Well, this has been quite the journey.
I am proud to share philosophyquest.ca my open access course on philosophies of research for grad students. Thanks to all of you who helped along the way with suggestions, feedback and support. I am very excited to launch this course and am hoping that it connects with many grad students from around the world.
I initially laid out my course outline with the blog post here. However, since my approach was intended to be an iterative, emergent one I did not provide too much detail in terms of course structure. I did indeed undertake an iterative process and you will notice my course now looks completely different than the Canvas course I presented late February. Below I lay out an updated course profile based on where I landed with my course development. I will not that the course continues to be a living document and that I will continue to update and modify it and the accompanying social media accounts as time goes on. I do hope that this course takes off at least in terms of people accessing its content, if not on the course site, on social media.
Course profile and needs analysis – This course continues to be aimed at grad students in the social sciences and humanities. Through my personal experience as a grad student in two different programs, universities, and provinces, I have observed that many philosophical perspectives on research are difficult for students to grasp, especially initially. Students in some programs (including education) may have had little exposure to philosophy or particular perspectives underlying their field in their undergrad work. As well, students may not have reflected on their own epistemological and ontological assumptions and may not be sure where to start with this process. In the design of my course I shared my idea and some of my course content with students in ED 920 which focuses on research and theory and gathered feedback. Many students expressed that they found such resources valuable as the dense academic reading that were used to first introduced philosophical perspectives were often too difficult to serve as a first point of introduction and students end up googling concepts to learn about and situate their broad outlines before engaging with the literature more deeply.
Format – Since the initial course profile I have changed the format from a Canvas course to a WordPress site. The WordPress site allows me to make the course more accessible, easy to use and visually appealing, as well as to integrate different learning content more smoothly. The course consists of six main lesson areas.
In my first lesson submission I completed two of them which I have since modified somewhat:
1. Two interactive, branching quizzes I designed in Articulate Storyline, which allow learners to self assess their philosophical alignment. Accompanying these is a animated YouTube video about what ontology and epistemology are.
2. An interactive Padlet map which locates philosophies and thinkers in a connected network, demonstrating relationships amongst them.
In my second lesson I have completed the following:
3. A series of animated YouTube videos (3-4 minutes in length each) which each introduce a philosophy of research, it’s ontological and epistemological assumptions and often its key thinkers or historical context.
4. Two meditations which take the form of videos, though are intended to be listened to and treated as a guided meditation. These meditations are intended to access more affective and spiritual aspects of the learners’ connection to philosophies of learning. These are included in order to make the course more holistic and to honour personal and meaningful reality of the process that grad students go through in connecting to their own underlying assumptions about reality and knowledge.
5. A Philosophy in Art activity in which learners are directed to a few resources which share public domain works of art and asked to connect individual works of art with a particular philosophy of research and share it on social media using the hashtag #philosophyinart and the name of the individual philosophy they connect it with. This is meant to be a fun, possibly humorous connected activity which takes their musings on philosophies of research to their broader network and other learners undergoing the same process. Images shared with these hashtags will then be shared to this section of the course website to create a shared document or collage.
The final course portion is an area that I did not fully develop in the course of this assignment:
6. Infographics about seminal thinkers in philosophies of research. I created one sample one and will continue to develop these. These will also be shared on Pinterest.
Assessment – As an open access asynchronous course with no instructor, all assessment is self-directed and formative. The quizzes and the medications are used to guide learners through a self-assessment of their ideas pertaining to knowledge and reality and the alignment of their perspective with established philosophies of research.
The map and the art activity are collaborative tools that allow learners to work together with others, through both space and time, to create meaningful knowledge outputs that will inform the learning of those that come after them. By adding information and connections about philosophies and thinkers, learners are gaining the value of communicating their knowledge to others. The art activity challenges learners to think deeply about what are the core defining factors of each philosophy of research and to make connections to these defining factors in a playful way mediated through art and analogy. This activity is intended to be a fun one but it is also a challenging final assessment of how thoroughly learners grasp and can apply their understanding of the philosophies of research.
I found the process of working on this course both challenging and exciting. The creation of animated videos can only be described as a marathon activity which I am still continuing as I build by repertoire of videos. Between researching, writing, recording and animating the videos, each 3-4 minute video took me about 10 hours to create, which resulted in some long days and nights. However, I am very happy with the products.
I really enjoyed and learned from the iterative process of creating the course and sharing it with classmates in both EC&I 834 and ED 920. Their feedback helped me focus on making my learning resources as directly relevant to learners as possible and bringing a more interactive creative approach to my course. I am very happy that I moved it from a Canvas site which was constrained and challenging in terms of visual appeal to the WordPress site. I haven’t worked in WordPress for many years so this was a good way to rejuvenate my skills. I created a lot of the visual resources for the course in Canva which was also enjoyable and rewarding. I also used DaVinci resolve an exceptional free video editing software for some other video editing.
I did write a blog about my process of refining my course plan which tells more about my process, which can be found here.
Please feel free to check out my course website at philosophyquest.ca, my YouTube Channel and my not yet very populated Pinterest profile (Philosophy Quest). I will also be sharing content around philosophies of research on my personal Twitter account so, if you have not already, feel free to follow me @jmayohbauche.