Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Spiraling with focus

I keep a sticky note open on my desktop at all times, with a running tally of how many times I've reworked (totally or partially) my thesis idea. Currently, the count is at 6, and we're only two months into the adventure.

However, I do feel that I am getting closer to home. In receiving excellent advice from various sources, among whom I can list Kim Jaxon, Barbara Ganley, and Alan, I've come to the conclusion that, while tools are great, what I need to focus on is methodology. I'm going to look at the different DH methologies that I think might be helpful to teachers, and unpack them as simply and clearly as possible. The most important thing I can do at this point is show people what the field has to offer, rather than exclusively focusing on tools that may not be relevant in a very short time.

That's not to say that tools are out completely, I'm still going to introduce them as examples under their respective methodology. Through the tools, I shall incorporate my dystopian literary example (example? right now I'm unsure of if I will be focusing on one text, or a small handful) as a way of showing how DH can be applied to a text. In doing this, I will use the tools as examples of what technology currently has to offer, while also keeping methodologies the primary focus of the paper. I want to show teachers what is possible, while incorporating the truth that technology is an ever-changing organism, and the tools we use today will likely be outdated tomorrow.

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After last week's "Thesis Tank," I started to think about the options that I have in front of my for my thesis-- namely, why am I writing it? It's been fantastic to hear the opinions and experience of different people throughout these Hangout encounters and, although so many ideas can be overwhelming, it has helped me to think about what I want at the end of this endeavor.

First, and foremost, I want a paper that I can submit to education magazines or journals, as something understandable and accessible to the average person. I'm not about gatekeeping or ivory towers, and I want the language and subject matter of my thesis to communicate that. I'm not in this for academia, I'm in this for students.

Second, I need to speak with teachers. I want to find out what has changed in the classroom since I graduated high school in 2011-- back then, we had computer carts and PowerPoint presentations. I need to know what teachers are using to reach their students. I don't believe I will be pursuing IRB approval for my work, because I don't feel that it is applicable to my study. If I were already a teacher, I might consider a more targeted project and test it on my students but, as that is not the case, I am going to work with the tools (and connections) I already have on hand.

Third, I'm going to use the library databases to see if I can find articles about DH in cross-curricular fields-- which will cater to my interest in reaching students in departments other than English. I believe that this field has an interesting opportunity to unify departments, and I believe that is an idea worth pursuing.

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More tomorrow but, for now:


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