This boy has a new (‘nother) blog

Howdy.

To kick-off my journey back into academe as a student, I’ve created a new site. I’ll use it to document and share research and activities related to my Masters of Arts program. It’s partially a blog, partially a journal, partially whatever you want it to be.

kyle's masters

So far, so good. Have a visit, if you’re interested. Follow along, if you’d like.

kylemackiemasters.wordpress.com

This site will still continue to see some action.

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Master of Karaoke?

Karaoke Star!

cc: flickr.com/photos/derekgavey

From the “Research Interests” section of my application package:

“My course work will focus on media, technology and literacy. The proposal for my research project is to focus on media-enhanced presentation styles that encourage improvisation and participation. Specifically, I will be examining PechaKucha, Ignite, PowerPoint Karaoke, and Battle Decks events. My final project will explore how these presentation styles can contribute to meaning-making and community building in an educational setting.

My research will focus on these presentation styles as a new type of literary form; a digital, participatory, fluid and multi-modal script. Through an examination of these presentation formats, I’ll discuss how the enforced structure of these styles affects the information presented, suggesting that the rules demand a creative and intentional approach to meaning-making. I will look at ways in which this enhanced script creates a new performative experience, establishing new relationships between the presenter, audience members and external online participants who are contributing to the discourse during the presentation. I will explore the interplay between the live events and the online commentary, examining how the boundaries blur between the "real" presentation and the "backchannel" conversation, and how this interplay can serve to enhance or distract from the intended meaning of the performance.

My research will draw from and advance the work done by Guelph’s Media Education Project and the international Improvisation, Community, and Social Practice research project. I will be working with educators to explore how these presentation styles can be incorporated into course delivery and student assessment.  Together with these educators, I will explore the new literacies necessary for students to be able to effectively participate in and learn from these new presentation styles.  Beyond the context of the University, I will build partnerships with the technology and arts community and community-based organizations, with the goal of creating a community engaged approach to this scholarship.”

@barrydahl put it well: “Cool – you’re going to get a degree in PechaKucha and Karaoke. I’m looking for a program in slot car racing and ping pong.”

I’ll show him!

Master of Everything/Degree in Nothing

I’ve had some interesting conversations with folks lately with regards to my re-entry into grad studies. These comments range from humourous, to supportive, to vaguely critical:

A Masters of Arts in a liberal, flexible program? Where’s that going to get you, Kyle? It sounds like “a Degree in Nothing”.

Michael Amick, who I’m working with on a presentation for eLearning 2011, suggests that it’s actually degree in everything. Let’s go with that.

One Twisted Venn Diagram

cc: flickr.com/photos/love4loaded

Master-y

masterlock

cc: flickr.com/photos/spyndle

As I mentioned in a previous post, I’m on the eve of re-entry into the world of academe (as a student). My short-list has been shortened and shaken around a bit. What’s surfaced is the Masters Program from the School of English and Theatre Studies (SETS) at the University of Guelph.

It cannot be discounted that pursuing a degree from the University of Guelph in many ways is convenient for me. As a resident of Guelph, and an employee of the University, the logistical aspects of participating in this program are highly attractive. It’s actually for these reasons that I had discounted pursuing further studies at Guelph. It seemed “too easy”, and the voices in my head were telling me to take a more challenging path.

I have many ties to the University, being an alumni, a volunteer and staff member. I am familiar with many of its programs, faculty and staff. I’m repeatedly impressed with the caliber of scholarship and teaching that comes from Guelph. It’s a comprehensive, world-class institution, dedicated to excellence in education.

From the SETS website:

The School of English and Theatre Studies provides life-changing experiences for all our students, offering a top-notch, student-centered education and the opportunity to combine the academic with the social through school events, guest lectures, and student societies. Students work with high profile creative writers, directors, playwrights, and scholars recognized for the quality and dedication of their teaching.

SETS has a number of amazing projects on the go; Canadian Adaptations of Shakespeare, TransCanada Institute, and two that I’m really looking forward to getting involved in,

Media Education Project

Media Education Project, a “digital learning commons providing materials, resources and inspiration for media educators”.

Improvisation, Community and Social Practice

Improvisation, Community and Social Practice, “defining a new field of interdisciplinary inquiry…fosters innovative partnerships with community-based organizations…highlights collaboration with arts presenters, educators, and policy makers…inventive flexibility…creative risk-taking…”

Why wouldn’t I want to study here?

All I Want for Christmas is an Open Education!

Open

cc: flickr.com/photos/cat1205123

It’s high time I started another degree. I’ve been shopping around for a couple of years now, and (mostly), I have it down to a couple institutions:

Both very attractive programs, and I’m sure I’d learn a lot.

As I’ve been shopping, I’ve been reading Don Tapscott’s latest epic, Macrowikinomics. It’s a great book. I found myself thinking “Hey, I’m not crazy! Other people think like this too!” (Or, maybe more to the point, at least I’m not alone.) In Chapter 8, Rethinking the University: Collaborative Learning, Tapscott proposes that we need to embrace open and collaborative learning in a “Global Network for Higher Learning”. He questions,

Why is the university the unit of measurement when it comes to branding a degree? In fact, in a networked world, why should a student have to assign his or her “enrollment” to a given institution, akin to declaring loyalty to some feudal fifedom?

There’s been some great scholarship and initiatives on the concept of “open courses” of late. Shouts out to Alec Couros, Stephen Downes, Dave Cormier, Bryan Alexander, George Siemens, David Wiley, Jim Groom and others for being trail-blazers on this.

What I’m after though is an open degree.

From what I’ve researched, a number of institutions will allow a small number of courses to come from outside the program and still be counted towards the degree (usually no more than two, although I’ve seen at least one allowing four…maybe under special circumstances, and with major administrative hassles). So, here’s my question, and my pitch: I’ll concede that I have to have a home institution, but what I’d like to do is take “one half less one” credits from other institutions, so that >50% of my credits come from my “home”.

Now, I may be missing something. There may be a program out there that allows this flexibility. If there is please let me know. If you work at one of these magical, enlightened institutions I will sign up! I am an excellent student. Believe me. And, if you want to help me with my quest, in any way, shape or form…