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Progress

August 30, 2008

The thesis process has been generally a good one for me, with some bumps in the road, and a stiff learning curve.  I really had no idea what a masters degree was all about before signing up for one, and I did not research it very much, rather acted somewhat on instinct.  Apparently, the thesis is all about developing research skills on a rather large scale,

towards the goal of further research at the PHD level or otherwise.  It is thus a practical application and skill-development exercise at a somewhat high level of thought and presentation.  On one hand, I am somewhat overwhelmed by all the requirements, and feel that imposter-syndrome thing happening.  On the other hand, I wonder what all the fuss is about:  you read some literature, ask some questions, write it all down (oh, and fill out a bunch of forms).  My latter response reminds me of a university tutorial I took as a child.  The subject matter was the work of Immanuel Kant, particularly his Critique of Pure Reason. While I acknowledged the difficulty level of his writing and his thoughts, I had some problems then understanding just what the fuss was all about.  I mean, he wrote this big book, but ‘so what’? When I raised that objection in class, the professor seemed to agree with me, but never did provide an answer.  I guess I found some issue with the value of a large book written in such a manner with such language that more time is spent try to understand what the man was saying than debating his viewpoints.  Could he not have used some simpler English? (I realize he was German).

Perhaps that is where my difficulties with academic writing originates. I like to simplify things, I am hardwired for this, it seems.  But I am learning to adapt. Adapt or perish, is the Darwinian gift, I believe.

Progress:   My subject matter is an investigation of storytelling in a Police technology-mediated learning environment (tmle).  I chose this because I am fascinated about how we learn through narrative (stories) and how culture etc. is passed down by stories.  In my world, we call these war-stories, and new recruits love to hear them.  When I taught this summer, the college-level students loved the stories too.  When asked why, their response was generally that the stories put the concepts into context for them, i.e. the context of the stories wrapped around and explained the assorted concepts that we were discussing, and helped them making meaning of the concepts.

Acknowledging the value of stories to advance learning, my thesis will explore the use of stories as delivered through an e-learning environment.  An e-learning module (distinct from a webct or moodle sequenced course) will consist of members telling their stories surrounding the use of problem-based learning concepts in their work.  Each storyteller will deliver a short 5-8 minute narrative on how they used pbl methodology to resolve an issue in their workplace.  This is a new direction in the delivery of e-learning in our organizations; to date our delivery is primarily text-based/lecture style with audio and or video delivery of content. Story-telling will be a new and different approach, and I will interview a sample of officers to determine their response to it.    As a qualitatative study, it is not necessary to have a random sample, nor is it necessary to propose a hypothesis up front.

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