PhD Friday – on not talking theory

Every time I turn a corner it’s like a new beginning – but not in a good way – more oh **** another focus shift needed. I guess each move is a step closer but appreciating it will take the benefit of hindsight. At the moment my sight is limited, the future hidden and the progress I think I’ve made is never enough. I have pilot participants ready to talk to me but it seems I’m not ready for them.

I can’t position myself epistemologically or ontologically, never mind axiologically – which is possibly the key of the three. When it comes to technology for learning my criticality is driven by my values. It seems these run in ever increasing circles of contrariness to the majority view of pushing the frontiers. I believe we need to look the other way – compare where we are to where we’ve come from. The distance may be less than received wisdom would have us believe. I think closer attention to resistance is called for. A realistic approach looking to the past and the present.  Technology has not transformed teaching in higher education. It might enhance on-campus delivery – it can improve part-time and distance learning – but it cannot transform. Not without attention to the time it takes to produce tasks and facilitate activities or surface the ways it excludes as much as widens participation.

Back the phd. I don’t know how to get theoretical enough. I don’t know how to align myself. I support approaches which offer multiple realities, identities and positions. Grand narratives which scoop everyone into a single overarching structure are less attractive. Pluralities appeal. I met postmodernism in 1999 and I liked it. Within the messiness of postmodern ideas, structures can be identified; hidden agendas and power mechanisms. I can adopt a critical approach in order to uncover these; to show the social underpinning of technology, education and knowledge in a digital age. But I can’t link this with the deeper philosophical language of doctoral research. I can’t move forward from where I’ve been stuck for months. I can’t talk theory.

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