The PhD Chronicles: Dissertation Journal #1

Word cloud of this post in the form of Rodin's Thinker.
Welcome to my new series within the PhD Chronicle series.  Herein, I will writing reflections and thoughts about where I am currently with thinking about my dissertation. I'm 30 courses in and if I haven't already, I should really start thinking about what I'm doing for my dissertation.  To be honest, I have been thinking about it, but this semester, my goal is to actively journal about it in the insuring months to see if I can find a strong focus and direction that I want to commit to.  In the next year, we will be writing our qualifying paper proposal (QPP) and qualifying paper (QP), which we will need to submit to move forward int he program.  Ideally, your QPP, QP, and dissertation proposal (DP) all align and I hope by working through these entries I can maintain that direct line of thinking.  

So let's start with some of my initial thoughts and consideration about what I want to focus on with my dissertation are.  


What is the current direction for my research interests/potential dissertation? I find myself coming back to a two areas of interest for my research.  These topics all relate in some way or another so if you see some thread that connects them all--by all means, share away!



Digital Access


As a college becomes more digital than brick, how does the institute respond to the question of access for students?  A century of writing and lore has focused entirely on how students prepare for physical institutions but how do they prepare and universities prepare them for digital institutions?  Institutions have digitized a variety of systems and processes from requests for information to applications to submission of and receiving of financial aid to student information systems to course materials and assignment submissions to digital portfolios and much more.  How does the move to digital create challenges or problems for student populations that may already encounter limitations or challenges in accessing higher education.  While students may increasingly have access to the digital world, how does techno-capital (not just access but ability) contribute to students' success in college?

Key terms:  techno-capital, academic capitalism, access, digital university, 



Digital Public Good


How do universities use the level of scale afforded by the digital world in order to more systematically engage in, quantify, and illustrate their essential role as contributors to the common good?  Higher education often fails to quantify their individual and collective contributions to society and particularly for public higher education, this reinforces the idea that higher education is a personal good, not a public good.  To that end, I am interested in looking at ways in which higher educations are using the digital environment to better capture and quantify the impact of their work.  Several topics come to mind with this particular topic including the exploration of open educational resources, open data and research, and also digital service learning.  With each, it becomes easy to see track and extrapolate the impact that higher education has on society at large and thus to be able to argue the value and importance of supporting higher education.   

Key terms:  public good, open educational resources, OER, open research, open data, digital commons, digital service learning, academic capitalism, techno-capital 


So that's where I'm at right now.  In the next post, I'm going to try an exercise to break them down further and see if that leads me in any interesting directions.

With these entries, I strongly encourage and hope that readers will chime in with thoughts, ideas, sources, or interesting questions to consider.  I am grateful for any and all help you're willing to give!
  1. Acceptance
  2. Orientation
  3. Day 1
  4. Week 1
  5. First 2 Courses Completed
  6. First 2 Courses Finished
  7. Semester 2, Here We Go
  8. The Existential Crisis of the Week
  9. The Balancing Act
  10. Negotiating Privilege in Higher Education
  11. Zeroing in on Research
  12. Completing the Second Semester



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