As an introduction to this topic, and letting you know the reason this is important and pertinent for me, I’d like to just briefly introduce myself to you. I’m Don Passey, and I’m Professor of Technology Enhanced Learning in the Department of Educational Research at Lancaster University. As part of my role, I am the Director of Studies for the Doctoral Programme in e-Research and Technology Enhanced Learning, which supports professional part-time students from across the world in undertaking doctoral studies. At any one time, there are about 100 students on this programme; many focus their doctoral study on aspects of networked learning, but we also use and rely on networked learning to engage with and support them. Hence, my interest!
Doctoral studies are concerned with in-depth investigation, and how the outcomes of those investigations can contribute to our existing bank of research knowledge. Networked learning benefits from the fact that it is well defined, and indeed, that the definition that has been most accepted has endured over many years. The definition, however, can be seen through a number of different lenses; those lenses might be focused more on theoretical concepts, or more on development, or more on existing practices in networked learning, as examples. With these possible different lenses, there is not necessarily a single way that these different foci might be considered or applied through any doctoral study; a doctoral study might take a practice dimension as its main focus, while another might take a theoretical conception as its main focus.
So, is there much research that explores these alternative foci, and the way that they relate? Certainly, there are plenty of studies going on, and the past Networked Learning conferences and their subsequent publications demonstrate this and chart this well. Given the points above as a background and introduction, this Hot Seat is concerned with the challenges that face those undertaking current and future doctoral studies.
I look forward to engaging with you in discussing these key questions, and hope that this discussion might then also be taken forward within the Doctoral Consortium that opens on Sunday 8th May 2016 (details can be found on the conference website). Please, in these discussion threads, do share your ideas, thoughts, or experiences!
Please, introduce yourselves and share what about this topic is of interest to you!
Professor of Technology Enhanced Learning, Lancaster University, UK