Current PhD Title

THE DESIGN, DEVELOPMENT AND EVALUATION OF THE CRITERIA REQUIRED OF A TECHNOLOGICALLY ENHANCED LEARNING ENVIRONMENT.

 

Current PhD Question

Which attributes should a Technologically Enhanced Learning Environment possess?

 

Supervisors

Prof. Liz Bacon, Prof. Lachlan MacKinnon, Dr. Cos Ierotheou

 

Overview

I am co-owner of several websites which aim to create an open e-learning environment.  The materials have to be in a specific format (click here for details).  O-VL (short for Open Virtual Learning) provides learning materials that are learning style independent.  EduLevel keeps track of what has been completed and all the administration around education.

The PhD seeks to discover the underlying educational principles needed to design an environment (VLE and LMS) which minimised the barriers to learning for students.  This will give the sites an academic pedigree and foundation.

This site has been created to track my progress through, what I expect to be, a daunting process.  My memory rivals that of a dead gnat, so I expect this to be my life line when someone says, "Oh, surely you remember ...".  Please contact me if you come across any tips or tricks and I will add them here - if I remember ... and if I have time!

From what I have read so far, the trick is to get organised early.  Sign up for the web sites you will need, download the software and create those folders.  Not only will this save you time, but you will also be able to start getting your head around the news ways of thinking required. Oh ... and do read the two books.  Both give excellent advice.

 

Useful books when starting

 

Useful applications when starting

  • Simplemind - Application (£26.73) - This is an excellent mind mapping tool that allows you to share your mind maps with your computer via email or DropBox.  Do treat yourself to the Pro version because it allows you to import from and export to other free mind mapping tools on your PC/laptop.
  • Zotero - Application and Web - Citation software.  It helps you to keep track of what you have read and allows citations to be added quickly and easily.
  • Docear - Application - Citation software.  It uses mindmaps to organise academic projects.  All references must be in PDF format and save in a specific directory.
  • EverNote - Application and Web - Memory software.  It allows you keep track of snippets, make notes and organise work.  It uses folders and tags make find these easy.

 

Useful SmartPhone apps starting

  • Scholar Droid - Android Smartphone App - This app allows you to find sources on the go.  Excellent for travel and short breaks.  Go to Google Play on your mobile and download it.
  • SimpleMind - Android Smartphone App (£3.99) - This is an excellent mind mapping tool that allows you to share your mind maps with your computer via email or DropBox.  Do treat yourself to the Pro version because it allows you to import from and export to other free mind mapping tools on your PC/laptop.

 

Useful sites when starting

  • Harvard Referencing - Website - This site is a useful source when referencing in papers and dissertations.  Ensure you put your sources in alphabetical order by author.
  • Research Gate - Website - This site offers a free community of reaseachers in most disciplines.
  • Post-Graduate Forum - Website - It can be helpful to learn from others and to get advice from those who have the T-shirt.
  • Google Scholar - Website - A good starting place when looking for papers.
  • Web of Knowledge - Website - Another good starting place when looking for papers, but have register whilst logged in at university.
  • Web of Science - Website - Yet another good starting place when looking for papers, but have register whilst logged in at university.
  • The Three Month PhD - Website - The whole site is fascinating, but this page gives good starting advice.
  • Sophie Coulombeau - Newspaper article - A well written article on how to overcome the pitfalls of starting a PhD.
  • Times Higher Ed. - Newspaper article by Prof. Tara Brabazon - How to fail a Ph.D.

 

Useful videos when starting

  • YouTube - Video - The challenges faced when starting a PhD.
  • YouTube - Video - Why is doing a PhD so hard?
  • YouTube - Video - Part 1 of 3 of a series on how to write a PhD thesis relatively quickly.  It contains a lot of sensible advice.  Watch these 3 videos early in your PhD and then revisit them later.
  • YouTube - Video - Part 2 of 3 of a series on how to write a PhD thesis relatively quickly.  It contains a lot of sensible advice.  Watch these 3 videos early in your PhD and then revisit them later.
  • YouTube - Video - Part 3 of 3 of a series on how to write a PhD thesis relatively quickly.  It contains a lot of sensible advice.  Watch these 3 videos early in your PhD and then revisit them later.

 

The Three Stages of a PhD

Stage 1 - Literature Review
The Liz Principle - Collect Butterflies
Find and read as many papers in and around your area as you can.
The Lachlan Principle - Learn to Read
Read the abstract - that will determine whether this is of interest.
Read the conclusion - that will tell you what they got to so that you can see whether that is of interest.
Read the references - it tells you where this paper lives and whether the author has cited the important sources.
If it is still of interest, record which theme this paper addresses as well as whether it is experimental, a description of theory, a description of practice, is it empirical or qualitative.  This huge body of knowledge will be whittled down once the research question becomes clearer.  As you are doing that you are identifying that there are some key papers that need to be revisited.  You are looking for, "These are the reasons why I now have this research vehicle."
Read the paper - this comes last!
The Cos Principle - Go Travelling
There is no such thing as a dead end, just roads that should be mapped, but do not need to be re-visited.
Stage 2 - Creating a Product
Stage 3 - Writing up the PhD