Thursday, December 31, 2009

PhD progress

I have been plodding along with my PhD and I feel like I am starting to build some momentum.  I have had a few weeks off work and been able to work on it full time and I can see the shape beginning to emerge.  I'm not sure if this is how it will look in the end, but it does feel helpful to start to build some structure around my reading and writing.

I had a bit of a panic this week when I realised how much more there is to do.  I have written around 10,000 words, and my final thesis will be around 100,000 words, so there is a long way to go.  Of course, I haven't started data collection yet, and this will form the main part of my thesis. The bit that I am up to is finalise my research proposal and make decisions about all of the details.  Things like which methodology I will use, how do I design the right method, how do I write a literature review that incorporates all of the literature that I have accumulated.  Then I will present to a University panel for Confirmation that I can proceed with the research, and the I need to apply for Ethics approval.   

The literature review is the bit where I felt really stuck - I was surrounded by papers and it was all starting to feel like it's all too hard.   But then I thought, I have been doing this for two years already, and I am not going to throw all of that away.  I need to break it down into smaller chunks, and work on each bit, one at a time.  And later, I will make sure that all the pieces go together properly.

Has anyone else been in this situation before?  Do you have any suggestions that might help me?

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

E-portfolio and citations

I have been starting to think about how to develop a portfolio of my academic activities, publications and presentations and I am wondering about the best format to use.   I looked  at developing a CV, which is a bit like a detailed resume and is a written collection of my academic achievements, publications, presentations etc.

I have been exploring the world of e-portfolios and thinking about whether I need  collection of citations.  I sometimes come across a review that a person has written about a presentation that I have done, or their thoughts about an article that I have written and I thought it would be good to gather this information together in one central place.

There are some fantastic examples out there.  Sarah Stewart's e-portfolio is one of the best that I have seen and includes her biography, employment, projects, publications and awards.  

I have also discovered a citation tracker that was developed by Panos Ipeirotis - this is a program that uses Google Scholar to find your publications. I think the term 'citation' in this context relates to what I would call 'journal publication'.    Panos blogged about monitoring citations and after clicking around his blog and profile I discovered that   Panos also has this awesome academic tree where he has tracked his academic genealogy.  It looks like a fun thing to do, and is a powerful representation of  academic history and being able to track this over time.  From Panos' page, I found Gene Golovchinsky and he also writes about the importance of measuring citations.  Gene also suggests that it is a good way to find papers that you might have forgotten about, or new things that need follow up.  Gene and Panos are computer science experts and I am sure they have computer skills that are way out of my league.

I am looking for something simple to use, cheap (preferably free) and easy to update.  Do you have any suggestions or ideas that might help me or lead me in the right direction?  What do you use to keep track of publications, presentations and citations?

Monday, December 21, 2009

My PhD - Wordle Cloud

I am nearing the end of my second year of my PhD studies and I thought it was time to check out where I am up to. I have been studying part time and plodding along, and this year I took 4 months off after my mum died.  I have enjoyed taking a break, but now I am starting to feel impatient to get going again.  I've had a few weeks off work and been able to study full time and this has been really enjoyable.

I thought it was a good time to do another wordle cloud to display and distill my PhD writing.  Wordle is a tool  for generating “word clouds” from text.   I have copied the text from my PhD writing over the past two years - I am up to around 10,000 words.  The  wordle clouds give greater prominence to words that appear more frequently in the source text.  It is pretty cool and you can make your clouds look different  with funky fonts, layouts, and color schemes. 

It's interesting to see the themes that are emerging from my thinking, reading and writing.  Do you have any feedback or comments about my wordle word cloud?

Monday, November 9, 2009

Professor Mick Dodson AM presenting the 209 Sir John Quick Lecture.

A crowd turned out in the early evening of Melbourne Cup Day to hear Mick Dodson's presentation. I didn't really know what he would be talking about, but based on the little that I know of him, I was expecting a passionate lecture about indigenous rights. And we weren't disappointed. As the crowd trickled in, I thought about the demographics of the people here and I wondered why there weren't more young people here.   

Professor Dodson talked about Sir John Quick, who migrated to Australia and worked in a few different jobs, including journalism, law and was knighted for his work in establishing the foundations for the Australian Federation. This was a man who achieved great things, and this is the power of having a dream, persistence and education.

Professor Dodson talked about human rights. He reminded us  'that we can't think that any problem is too hard or that it will go away. It won't. We all agree that every child deserves a good education, yet we don't deliver it. We have failed these children. There has been recent works with rebuilding schools and new classrooms, but are there good teachers for all of the schools, even the remote and far away ones. The education revolution begins and ends with people. We need to see the worth and potential in every person.'

Professor Dodson spoke about a school in the ACT that took Grade 5 kids away on a camp and when they came back to the school, they discovered that the Grade 4 kids had moved into their classroom. The Grade 5 kids told them to leave, but they refused. The Grade 4 kids were supported by their teacher and they liked the new classroom so they decided to stay. The Grade 4 kids kept all of belongings and work of the Grade 5 kids and refused to give it back. The Grade 5 kids were sad and confused and felt like they had been tricked, but the grade 4 kids didn't care. Sound familiar? This kind of critical, experiential learning delivers a powerful message to students and parents about Australia's history.

Professor Dodson issued some challenges to the Government - "if we are aiming for social inclusion  this  is about an inclusive society that we all feel proud of and we all feel part of.  How can we achieve this when the Government suspends the Racial Discrimination Act in the Northern Territory to specifically target policy at Indigenous people? There are many gaps to close and expectations to do well. We need to teach people about their rights and the rights of other people. We can only be fully inclusive when the wisdom and the vote of disadvantaged people can be heard".

It was an inspiring, provocative and challenging lecture and I left feeling that there is more that I can do personally, for both indigenous people and also other people who are experiencing disadvantage. 

What about you - Have you ever been to a passionate lecture like this - where you got inspired to take action or do something  differently?  What did you do and how did it turn out?

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Gee... this blog has gone quiet

Yes - things did go quiet here for a while and that is because my mum passed away in August and things have been pretty mixed up since then.  You can check my other blog to read a bit more about this.

It turns out that I am not going crazy, but experiencing a 'normal grief reaction'.   Whatever 'normal' really is.  I am just starting to feel like I can string a few words together, and they make sense  and I can  concentrate on reading and writing.  I have taken some time off from my PhD studies and I am looking forward to getting back into in in the New Year.

Well... this is what I have been doing - what have you been up to for the past three months?

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Rural Social Work Conference - Geelong

I am in the final stages of preparing for my presentation at the Rural Social Work conference in Geelong next week. I have presented different aspects of my research in a few places recently and I am having trouble working out what to include and what to leave out. The conference presentation is for 40 minutes, which seems like a very very long time to talk, however when I practice timing my presentation the time seems to run away and I worry that I am trying to fit too much in.

It's a challenge to work out what to include however, I think I will start with the basics of reflective practice, some information about me and my research, some information about blogs and my blog, then present some of my favourite blogs. What do you think? Do you have any feedback about this approach or any suggestions? Did you attend the conference and see my presentation? What did you think? I welcome all feedback.



Saturday, June 6, 2009

15th International Reflective Practice Conference: Comhrá

Welcome to the people who are visiting my blog for the first time after the 15th International Reflective Practice Conference: Comhrá at Limerick University, Ireland.

I'm writing this post early because I am taking some time off for leisurely travel to Ireland in the hope that I will have adjusted to the time zone and shaken off my jet lag before I need to stand up and present at the conference. If you are reading this it also means that someone was interested enough to come along to my session, listen to me and follow up - and that is all good news. I hope to hear from you and I would love you to post a message and tell me what you thought of the conference and my presentation.

For those of you that are new here I want to tell you about my five main reasons for keeping a blog. For those of you who are experienced bloggers - please respond with your reasons and we can share the joy amongst us all.

1. I like to get these thoughts, ideas and feelings out of my head and written down somewhere. Preferably, somewhere I can find it again, so a chronological blog is perfect.

2. I like to have a separate personal and a professional blog. I can let my family and friends know what I have been doing and load up the photos, and I can also keep in contact with other blogging contacts who might (or might not) be interested in what I get up to on the weekends.

3. I like the stimulation and ideas from other people who respond to my comments. There are very interesting people out there that I would never have met if it wasn't for this blog.

4. I live in a regional town and it can be hard to talk with other people about what I am thinking and feeling. I enjoy connecting with people and discussing the issues, without worrying if they might be related to someone who knows someone.

5. It's fun. It's new and it is the future. As a PhD student I want to have contemporary research in 3 or 4 years time and I am certain that we will be doing more and more online. So, I might as well learn how to do it now.

If you are new to blogging, here are some of my favourite blogs that I recommend you visit. Sarah's blog is an experienced blogger and her blog is fantastic - she has great information for new people about how to get started, and ideas and examples about technology, tools and techniques. Pam is a midwife and I enjoy reading her posts about the different aspects of her life. David's blog is fun and I enjoy reading his thoughts about daily life, through the eyes of a 20-something US bachelor. Mary-Helen is doing a PhD about doing a PhD and she describes her blog as a place to dump her thoughts - it's an interesting journal and I enjoy reading about her latest PhD adventure. Dave has a blog about using a blog for reflective practice and he has some great ideas about using technology. Do you have any favourite blogs to recommend to us?

Reflective Practice research design

I have been plodding along with my PhD and thinking about reflective practice and trying to work out how to design my research. I am getting towards the stage where I need to make some decisions and make a start if I am ever going to finish.

I had an idea about setting up a couple of different reflective practice groups, including a blogging group to test out some different reflection methods and techniques and explore people's experiences, but it all sounds too restrictive. How will I know which are the best or the right methods to select? What happens when people leave or join the group? I don't want to impose my ideas about reflective practice on other people - I think it is the kind of thing that you have to work out for yourself and personal preferences are very important.

So I was thinking that maybe I should do simple old qualitative research, where I talk with people about their experiences of reflective practice, how they learned about it, when they began to value reflective practice and how do they do it. I think it would be fascinating reading. This way, I could invite people to be involved and perhaps target some of the influential writers about reflective practice. There is also a place for me to explore the idea about blogging for reflective practice and find out about bloggers' experiences.

I have been reading Dave's blog - he has been writing about using a blog for reflective practice, and his ideas fit in really well with mine. I'm off to the 15th International Reflective Practice Conference: Comhrá at the end of the month and I am presenting my research ideas about reflective practice and blogging. I'm interested in your thoughts and ideas - do you think we can use a blog for reflective practice? Do you think my research proposal will work?

The 'Can Do' Initiative

I have recently discovered the ‘Can Do’ Initiative. This is an initiative funded by the Australian Government and promoted by the Australian General Practice Network. I think this is a fantastic example of an innovative approach to flexible learning.

The 'Can do' initiative encourages health professionals to focus on education, training and networking to learn about dual diagnosis of mental health and substance abuse problems.
The program offers an interactive on-line education program where you watch short lectures, read notes and consider a case study, then there are questions to answer to complete the module. The overview explains that it is a six-hour clinical education module that "provides comprehensive education and training in the recognition, management and review of service users presenting with co occurring mental health and substance use disorders. Many other training packages are available that address alcohol and drug issues or mental health issues but few address the combination of the two and their management in the general practice setting. "

The program is accredited and for me, as a Social Worker, I can count the time towards my Professional Development requirements. And it's free. So it is pretty easy and a flexible and interactive way for busy health professionals, especially people working and living in rural and remote areas to be able to access quality education and training.

I'm about half way through and really enjoying the program. Do you know of any other programs like this that offer a similar program?

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Re-organising Universities - Article review

I've been reading this article, 'Re-organizing Universities for the Information Age' by David Annand as part of the flexible learning course that I am doing.

Annand argues that 'University education is still conducted within pre-Industrial Age organisational structures' and suggests that we can expect that Universities will need to transform themselves to meet the needs of more and more students, and increased demand for flexible, cost-efficient learning options. Annand points out that distance education is perhaps a step in the right direction in terms of offering flexibility for students and cites Taylor's ideas of a 'Fifth Generation Learning model'. Annand warns that the traditional inflexibility of University programs does not position a University well for the future, where the demand will increase and be unsustainable in the current, traditional format. In closing, Annand talks about 'irresistible technological, economic, and social imperatives seem about to impose significant change on the conduct of higher education worldwide'.

There are some strong ideas in this article - I love the term 'irresistible technology' - I agree that there is something seductive and captivating about new technology. The lure of something new and fresh and different. But we sometimes get pulled back to reality when we find out that new technology isn't available for everyone. Some people won't have the computers, or the broadband internet to be able to access the 'irresistible technology'. But I will stop this tirade and try and focus back on the article!

I think it is an exciting time to be a PhD student at a University because I feel like we are about to embark on something new. New in terms of delivery of learning, and flexibility of learning and assessment, which will affect the structure of the University, where people are based and how we communicate with each other. As a PhD student hoping to move into a Research or Academic career, I am excited and encouraged by the flexibility that I hope to see available by the time that I complete my research. It's an interesting article and I am keen to hear what other course participants think.


Saturday, April 18, 2009

What is Flexible Learning anyway?

I have been having a think about what is flexible learning and I wanted to try to draw together some of the excellent resources out there. As part of the course , we are directed to find out about the Australian Flexible Learning Framework. This is a great web site and suggests that flexible learning is basically learning where there is more choice for the learner in where, when and how the learning will happen. It can include things like teleconferencing, videoconferencing and using other multi-media tools. Megan suggests that flexible learning has probably been around for a while, however the tools that we use now are more advanced and interactive and Jenny has a really clear example of some of the problems and solutions to flexible learning.

Sarah's blog is awesome and a great place to explore at any time, as she is a regular contributor and there is always something new there. Sarah's post about cookie baking introduces the Personal Learning Environment (PLE), and for Sarah it seems that the online tools and activities tend to merge into one PLE. Sarah has also written about eLearning and her ePortfolio.

I'm still thinking about how it all goes together and what will work for me. I am seduced by all the bright lights and whistles of the multi-media world that we live in and the options and opportunites that are out there. I feel that Sarah is brave and courageous to expose to the world her ePortfolio, goals and achievements, and I am not sure if I could do this. But then, why wouldn't you want to tell the world about your successes? Maybe this is one of those things where you just need to take a leap and see what happens? What do other people think?


Tuesday, April 14, 2009

X marks the spot

One of the things we are asked to do as part of the flexible learning course is to think about the reasons that a person might have for NOT doing a flexible learning course. It is an interesting way to approach this ... and here is my short story.

X is a busy person. There is always something to do and there are so many 'jobs lists' around the house that she is thinking of making a list of the lists. Where does all the time go these days? I am sure that it wasn't this busy last year. X is interested in a course, but there is no way that she can fit in the time to attend the classes, she can't take time off work, she can't afford any fees. Makes you wonder if she is really committed to the course in the first place?

If there was a course that was flexible - it just might work. It would need to be something where she can pick out the bits that she really wants to learn, and do just as much or as little as she can. It would be different to the 'normal' courses, where someone else decides what needs to be studied - in this course, X can decide which bits are interesting and relevant and which bits she already knows or is not interested in. This course is about actually learning something new, rather than just going through the motions of what you have to do for assessment. It might mean no study for a whole week, then a flurry of activity at once when the opportunity can be grabbed. Technology is important too - she can't access the internet at work, because her organisation has it blocked, although she does get broadband internet at home. It needs to be simple to use, not take forever to load up on the screen and it needs to be fun.


Monday, April 6, 2009

Flexible Learning Course - 2009

I have just joined up for the Flexible Learning Course 2009. It is an exciting program, developed by staff in the Educational Development Centre of Otago Polytechnic in New Zealand and the best news is that it is free. Yep - free. The course is structured into chunks, so you can practice a range of activities that are designed so that you have a go at different things, like developing a blog, reading and responding to other blogs and meeting a group of other interested people.

I have a little experience in blogging and I set up my blog last year. I have posted intermittently and met some very interesting people around the world who have similar interests to me. I am a PhD candiatate at La Trobe University in Bendigo and I am interested in exploring whether blogging can be a way for practitioners that are socially or geographically isolate to engage and connect with other professionals. I am looking at a couple of different ways of reflective practice and one way is via a blog.

My reasons for doing the course are to develop my skills, experiences and confidence with flexible learning and to engage with other people who are also interested in these topics. I hope to also be able to learn the language of e-learning, PLEs, delicious, twitter and other strange words.

I have two blogs and they are linked via my profile. One blog (this one) is about reflective practice and the other one is more personal and family orientated. I wasn't sure about whether to combine the blogs or separate the blogs. I had thought that family members might enjoy the personal one and be bored with the reflections, and the people interested in the reflections wouldn't really be interested in my veggie garden. I am interested in your feedback - what do you think?


Saturday, February 28, 2009

Conference Review

Yesterday I attended the Loddon Mallee Allied Health Conference and had a great day. It was an opportunity to meet with other Allied Health practitioners in Bendigo and to hear about current policy, practices and research. It was also an opportunity for me to present an aspect of my research about using a Blog as a tool for reflection. There were several highlights for me: John Mulder, CEO talked about Bendigo Health's Strategic Plan and future plans for building a new hospital - it looks fantastic and is an exciting time. Robyn Lindsay is the Chief Physiotherapist at Bendigo Health and she delivered a fantastic presentation that was very entertaining and fun - I loved the use of superhero characters. One thing that really resonated for me is the importance of timing - when you are looking for change one strategy is to keep plodding along, building up skills, experience and research and wait for the time to be right - then pounce.

Amanda Kenny from La Trobe University spoke about her plans for a common first year for Health Sciences students and the development of a rural allied health centre in Bendigo. It sounds like a very exciting idea, and that there may be prospects for teaching and research positions for new PhD graduates!

I was really impressed with Pam Harvey's presentation. Pam is a Lecturer at Monash University, School of Rural Health and her presentation was interactive, engaging and inspiring. Pam talked about the differences and diversity among the people in our workplaces and suggests that we should look at the these differences and diversity rather than trying to box people into groups like generation x or y. Pam talked about modern Web 2.0 tools like wikipedia, twitter, and blogs and encouraged people to check out my blog - thanks Pam it is great feedback. I haven't been sure if a blog is an appropriate tool for reflection, and this is something that I will think more about. Pam mentioned that it is important for us to develop these new social networking skills so that we can keep in contact with our colleagues and clients and understand how to use the new technology. These social networks may be part of a solution for isolated clients and practitioners, whether they be isolated geographically or socially.

It was a great conference and I look forward to next year.


Sunday, February 22, 2009

Allied Health Network Conference, Bendigo 27/2/09

I have been preparing my first poster to deliver at the Allied Health Network Conference in Bendigo on Friday, 27th February 2009. I wasn't sure what to present, as I am in the early stages of my research and I have lots of options for which direction I might take. I have decided to present my thoughts about Critical Reflection and the use of an on-line blog. I have attached the notes here and I will present the poster on Friday. I welcome any feedback about the poster and I will be back next week to let you know how it went.


Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Overcoming fear monsters

There are very few monsters who warrant the fear we have of them. Andre Gide

I went along to my first Toastmasters meeting on Monday night and I have to say that it was a lot of fun. In a scary, out of my comfort zone kind of way. It's one of those things that I know is going to be good for me, but on the other hand I resist.

Toastmasters is a structured meeting type of workshop, where you learn speaking skills by practicing conversation with other people in a meeting type of atmosphere. Members give short speeches and other members evaluate and provide feedback. It is very respectful and feels comfortable - it feels like a safe place to practice public speaking and develop my skills. It is also a great way to meet a whole lot of interesting people. I'll be going back.

Jerry Seinfeld got a big laugh when he joked about a survey that found that the fear of public speaking ranks higher in most people's minds than the fear of death. "In other words," he deadpanned, "at a funeral, the average person would rather be in the casket than giving the eulogy."

The Toastmaster principles seem to be that the way to overcome fears is to face up to them, and practice repeatedly, until it becomes second nature and comfortable. Have you ever faced up to your fears? What did you do? Did it work? Any advice gratefully accepted.


Sunday, February 1, 2009

How do you learn how to learn from experience?

I have been thinking about people learn from their experiences. There are heaps of interesting quotes from those much wiser than I and I have attached a few below:

We should be careful to get out of an experience only the wisdom that is in it - and stop there; lest we be like the cat that sits down on a hot stove-lid. She will never sit down on a hot stove-lid again - and that is well; but also she will never sit down on a cold one anymore. ~Mark Twain, Pudd'nhead Wilson's New Calendar, Following the Equator, 1897

Experience is the name everyone gives to his mistakes. ~Oscar Wilde, Lady Windemere's Fan, 1896

Learn all you can from the mistakes of others. You won't have time to make them all yourself. ~Alfred Sheinwold

I have been wondering about how people learn from their experiences. Do people really learn from their mistakes? How do you learn to do this? Can you learn from other people's mistakes, or do you have to make the same mistake yourself? And Mark Twain's advice is very relevant for me - make sure not to overgeneralise and to miss out on many positive experience because of fear of negative times.

How do you learn from experience? Can you learn from good and bad? Can you learn from other people's experiences? How does it work?

I look forward to hearing from you.


Saturday, January 31, 2009

One door closes... then what?

I was having lunch with a friend recently (great lunch Nadine) and I was talking about how I was feeling confused about some choices that I have recently made in my work, and some choices that I need to make in the future. Over the past year, I have experienced having one door close - a career path that I had worked hard towards was destroyed by a vindictive bully. I won't go through all of the gory details, but it was a difficult time. I found, that soon after another door opened, and I decided to step into the adventure of PhD candidature. This is something that I have always wanted to do. I really love being a PhD student - I love reading, and finding out about other people's research, planning my research and writing and presenting my research. I am glad to be a part time student because it will go for longer and it is a wonderful time.

But back to the door thing - I find myself in a position now where I'm not sure what to do next. I was talking with my friend about this and she commented that it can be hard when there are lots of doors open. It made me stop and think - she is right and there are lots of doors open for me at the moment. It is nice to be in a position where there are lots of good options to consider, but it does make it hard to know what is the right thing, or the best thing to do.

How do you decide which is the best career move next? What kind of jobs should I be looking for or thinking about as a PhD graduate? Has anyone else been in this situation before? What did you do? Does anyone have any tips or suggestions to help me out?


Thursday, January 22, 2009

Wordle - a tool for distilling thoughts

I have decided to go back to wordle and see if I can find a clearer way to understand my thinking - it's a bit like sifting sand from a mine to find the gold. Here is the wordle of the past four months of my blog. Cool huh. I think wordle is a great reflection tool or reflection technique - it's a way to see things more clearly. I have also seen Wordle used as a way of distilling poetry and journals, and I am going to see what my journal looks like when its Wordled. Not sure if I will share it - but I will save that for another time.

Confidence in Public Speaking

I have been having a think about my presentation skills and confidence at getting up in front of a group of people and being able to make sure that words actually come out of my mouth. I feel like I do an OK job. I get feedback from other people that I look and sound confident. But I don't feel confident. I feel anxious, nervous and worried. I believe that it is possible to die from embarassment. I feel light headed, dry mouthed and it sounds to me like my voice is a quavery squeak.

But if I want to be a world famous researcher, author and conference presenter, then I am going to have to find a way to improve my confidence in public speaking. And my first presentation, all by myself is planned for Feb 27th 2009.

I was inspired by Jeffrey's ideas about Learning from Impromptus, and his advice that people get better with practice. I also enjoy Kevin's blog and especially his post about the magic of dialogue - Kevin says that it is a skill that can be learned.

So I have decided that I am going to learn and practice how to improve my confidence in public speaking. I found a group called Toastmasters - they advertise in my local area - the Bendigo Club 'Have you ever wanted to speak confidently in front of an audience? Learn and practice your speaking skills in a friendly, supportive environment. And have a lot of fun along the way.' Yep -that's for me. What an appealing advertisement - it actually sounds like fun. And not scary at all.

So I am going to join and I will let you know how it goes. Wish me luck! Do you have any other advice or suggestions for ways to improve my confidence in public speaking? I'd love to hear from you.


Monday, January 19, 2009

Who controls my expression of opinion?

I was inspired by a post all the way on the other side of the world - Buckeyebrit posted a blog called Blogging and the day job. And it got me thinking - who owns the information and who is entitled to say where and when I can express my thoughts and opinions. I work in a Government organisation and they have very strict rules about confidentiality, so I am careful to never name the organisation and always talk about what I think, rather than something that happened at work. And I am always conscious to be careful about what I say about the organisation in the public domain.

Sarah Stewart has written extensively on topics like 'An ethics question', and privacy and confidentiality, and suggests that Health Professionals that blog about their clinical practice should be prepared for scrutiny. This resonates for me and it is something that I agree with.

As a PhD student I always identify with La Trobe University, the place where I am enrolled. But I have never asked anyone there if they are happy for me to blog about my experiences as a student. Imagine if they tried to stop all students from blogging? Is there a line between my thoughts, experiences and reflections as a Social Worker employed in a Government organisation, and a Social Worker who is a PhD student? How could I possibly separate them?

As I build my portfolio and reputation as a Researcher, these lines will continue to blur. If I write a paper or present at a conference and identify myself as belonging to one organisation or the other, it will soon become obvious that I belong to both organisations, and it will become more difficult to separate them. Have other people experienced this situation? What do you do about it?



Saturday, January 17, 2009

2009 Loddon Mallee Allied Health Conference

I applied to present a paper at the 2009 Loddon Mallee Allied Health Conference that will be held in Bendigo in February - the title of the conference is 'Change: Embrace What's New'. I was disappointed not to be accepted to present a paper about my research, but I was invited to present a poster during the lunch break. I haven't presented a poster before, so this is a new experience for me and I am quite looking forward to it.

I have been working on a catchy title and I have come up with, 'Critical Reflection online: can a blog support isolated practitioners?' What do you think?

I think that I need to include my blog address on the poster and have some paper copies of the poster to handout, in case anyone is interested in finding out more. This is challenging because it is the first time that I actually publicising my blog - maybe people will come and look at it!

I have tried to upload a copy of my poster, but I can't get it to work yet. I will keep working on it and I am sure there will be a way. Have you presented a poster at a conference before? I'm interested to hear if you have any suggestions or tips for what I can do to make it an interesting and fun experience.


Friday, January 2, 2009

Mind Maps: an innovative solution

I have been thinking about my PhD research and trying to find a way to create a kind of mind map to chart what I want to do and how the different topics link together. I have used a couple of old-fashioned versions, with bits of paper, a grey-lead pencil and an eraser. They almost work, but are not quite right. I followed a blog from Sarah Stewart where Sarah tells us about 7 things we don't know about her and tags another seven people to do the same. It is an interesting way to find out more about people.

I ended up at Pam Harnden's blog. Pam is a midwife and much of her blog about about midwifery (much of which I don't understand), but there is heaps of fantastic information about tools and other stuff relevant to everyone. Pam has posted a link to - a free web application for brainstorming and mid mapping. It is awesome and is just the thing that I need to be able to get my thoughts and ideas into a map, and be able to move ideas and topics around, and to do it electronically, rather than the old pencil and paper way. Thanks Pam.

I have also decided this year that I will spend more time commenting on the interesting blogs that I read. I tend to read a lot and lurk, but I am committed to spending more time commenting and encouraging comments back to my blog. I haven't found a good way to keep track of them all yet so if anyone has any suggestions I am keen to hear from you. I have worked out how to subscribe to posts, but how can I find out if a blogger replies to a comment that I leave on their blog? Is there a simple way or do I just need to subscribe and go back and check regularly? I hope there is someone out there that can help me with this.


Thursday, January 1, 2009

New Year's resolutions

Well we made it to the start of another exciting year. I had an early night last night, and was in bed at 12.01, and I woke up feeling bright and fresh - a great way to start the new year. I normally make a list of resolutions, and then usually forget about them. This year, I have written a letter to myself, which is placed in a sealed envelope and stored in a safe place and delivered back to me, unopened on 1 December 2009. It will be an interesting reminder of the goals that I started out with for 2009.

Do you like New Year celebrations? I tend to agree with Seth Godin who sees NYE as a time of 'faux merriment' (I absolutely agree), yet it is a time of exciting possibilities where there is a chance to start afresh and I think that is a wonderful way to look at the year ahead.

So what are your New Year Resolutions? I'm planning on learning more about e-learning and technology, making time to write in my blog more consistently, and spending more time learning how to ride my bike. I'd love to hear about your resolutions and how they go.