Dissertation 2.0

The last few months have been quite a challenge for a number of personal reasons so I’ve ended up taking an unintentional break from the dissertation. A few things have happened in the interim:

I’ve changed the topic of my dissertation

The first idea was too overwhelming and I think that was part of the reason for not properly engaging with it. I had a great discussion with Guy, several months ago now, where he suggested an alternative based around a case study of a single JISC-funded project. I was much happier with this and it held up the prospect of working closely with some excellent people around Sheffield and just seemed so much more manageable. It was at that point that I found myself slipping under a whole number of work projects so ended up having a hiatus. 

The new topic

…which has yet to be confirmed with Guy but he seemed happy with the broad summary I put to him pending a proper proposal. The new idea (hopefully the final one) is to focus on the development of JISC Netskills staff in order to support organisations with their storytelling. Once Guy’s fed back on the proposal I’ll explain it in more depth. It’s a lot closer to home and I think will have much greater benefit to me and the Netskills team.

Interest in the team

There are about half a dozen people at Netskills now keen to learn more about storytelling for a range of purposes. They want to engage at different levels, some wanting to create stories, others to support people they work with outside Netskills and some with a passing interest. 

There’s a good opportunity to document the process of informal collaborative learning that leads to becoming a storytelling organisation. This means I can look more closely at the ideas on affinity spaces, communituies of practice and situational learning that have interested me so much since I started TELIC.

A new publishing platform

Inspired by the examples of Ian Guest and Frank Thuss I’m making this dissertation available online. I’ll be using the WordPress platform for a number of reasons

  • I’m familiar with its basic operation
  • There is tonnes of flexibility in terms of how I can make the site look and function
  • It means Guy and anyone else can see work in progress and interact through comments and so on as the site develops
  • I can keep certain areas of the site private to protect the confidentiality of my research participants
  • There are people with WP skills at Netskills that I can call on and it will be a useful learning experience for me. WP is becoming more and more popular as a content management tool, not just a blog.
  • I can transfer my existing Posterous content easily
  • I don’t have to decide on a format straight away. I can remain flexible right up until submission day.

The plan will be to host it myself eventually, buying a domain name so I have more control over its availability and hopefully keeping it online for longer.

For the moment I’m building the basic structure and writing the content at this wordpress.com site. There’s very little there at the moment, just a room full of empty, jumbled boxes but it’s a start and I feel like I’ve got my momentum back.

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