Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

It has been weird not writing my dissertation or papers for over a week. Last week I created the PowerPoint for my presentation, I just have a few more slides to add. This week I will be making a few final additions to my planned analysis methods in chapter 3 in both the paper and presentation. Additionally, I plan on calling my committee members on Wednesday morning to see if there are any concerns, or things that they want me to explicitly cover in my presentation. I am debating creating the actual survey in qualtrics before the defense so that I can include the full instrument in my proposal. I also need to write the recruitment letters and informed consent forms for the survey and interviews.


I have taken the last couple weeks to think about the comments that my chair made on my draft, and how I should change it. Yesterday she emailed me asking when I would be getting revisions back to her, and that it was close to being the deadline in order to have my preliminary defense at the end of May. I told her that I would have it to her on Monday.

Today I took to the whiteboard and revised my research questions, and then organized the sections of chapter 2 so that they would lead up to them. I then removed several sections that we decided were not adding much to the discussion, amounting to 8 pages. I also went through and started making changes based on her comments. Tomorrow I plan on finishing going through and making the easy changes. Then I will move the sections around based on the new outline, finish writing a couple new sections, and a lot of transitions.

Today I received the marked up copy of my dissertation back from my chair. The majority of comments were minor APA and punctuation issues. I went into too much detail into parts of chapter one. I also need to clarify how the content in my lit review ties into the research questions. I will be working on it tomorrow, and on the flight to Toronto.

While I’m taking a little break from writing my dissertation I thought I would write a post on my workflow.

I am not an apple person, so I do not have an iPad, iPhone, or a Mac. I use windows 7 on my work computer and my laptop, I also have an android phone and a nexus 10 tablet. So this post will outline how I use windows and android programs in my workflow.

The programs that I use are: Dropbox, mendeley, chrome, acrobat pro (on PC) reader (on android), evernote, cutepdf, and word.

I have experimented with other such as qiqqa, and scriver, but they didn’t fit in my workflow like I wanted. Qiqqa took too long to update metatinfo for citations, and scriver didn’t work with word the way I wanted. Fresno State gave me a pretty good word template that I had already tweaked so that it had other styles for me to use, and the headings were set to the correct outline steps.

Collecting research
I started using mendely last year to organize articles that may be use full for my dissertation as well as for other papers that I wrote. I had folders created for each different topics, and as I brought articles in, or read them I would tag them with key concepts. I also set it up to auto save articles in a folder by author-title-year. I had experimented with using sub folders, but none of the options were better than in on folder. If it would save files into folders similar to the ones used in the program it would be helpful, but then you could end up with duplicates if you had a file in two folders. The folder that it saves it into is called research, and within that folder I have a folder called new that I have it watch.

I use a combination of databases through the school, and Google scholar to collect articles. Whenever I found an article that was close to what I wanted I saved it as a PDF. If I was somewhere that didn’t have a PDF option such as an article that was only available as HTML or a data view from BLS I used cutePDF to turn it into one. CutePDF sets up just like a printer, but instead of printing on paper it makes a PDF.  When using Google scholar I set it up to connect to the school library, so that if the PDF wasn’t free in the open web, I could search through the library to find it. I also used the ebsco android app to save files when searching the database from my phone, and would download them latter on the PC. When I’m on the tablet I just download them files and then upload them into the new folder in dropbox.

When I am reading a real book and come across something that I want to remember I take a picture of the passage with evernote and put it into a notebook called dissertation.

Organizing files
Once I had collected files I would start mendeley and make sure the info was correct and do my preliminary tags, and put them into folders. I try and keep my unfilled area empty. Once I started working on my dissertation I created a not dissertation folder, and moved all the folders that did not relate to my dissertation into it. That included folders for other papers I’m writing this semester.

The standard APA style for mendeley has a few issues so I have created a new version that fixes some things.

Reading articles
I read and markup articles in mendeley primilarily, that way I can make notes that show up without opening the file. Whenever I get a file that is just a scanned image I open it in acrobat pro and perform OCR, depending on the quality of the scan I get mixed results.

If I am reading on my tablet I primillary highlight, and make notes only when I really don’t want to forget something. That way when I go back to the PC I can see all my highlights and if I see a comment I open the PDF in acrobat and copy the comment into mendeley.

I do all of my writing in word, using the correct styles I am able to go the the outline view and move things around as needed. I also edited them web standard style to match what I wanted for the reference list so that I wouldn’t have to reformat it every time.

Android Apps

Posted: February 25, 2012 in Uncategorized

After being asked several times for which apps I use I decided to make a list. I use most of these on both my tablet and phone to different extents.


Learning by any other name…

Posted: February 24, 2012 in Uncategorized

Formal and Other learning

It’s easy to recognize and agree on Formal Learning, this is learning that takes place within a structured and accredited organization.
Confusion sets in when the conversation shifts to other types of learning. The other day Tom Spiglanin was  interested and intriguied that I made a distinction between Non-Formal and Informal Learning. Last year I thought that there was only what you did in school (formal) and everything else (informal).

Types of learning

What is the difference between DIY, Non-Formal, Informal, and Self Directed learning? These terms are used almost interchangeably in the open education and digital learning dialog. Over the last year or two I have seen them used in nearly the same context from many different sources. Through my research I have found that going back to at least the ’70s there is a difference in the literature.

Non-Formal, DIY, Self Directed

Coombs, Prosser, and Ahmed (1973, p. 11) define non-formal learning as “any organized educational activity outside the established formal system-whether operating separately or as an important feature of some broader activity-that is intended to serve identifiable learning clienteles and learning objectives”.  More succinctly it is “education ‘owned’ and ‘directed’ by the learner” (Hall, 2009, p. 31).  I think that DIY as well as Self Directed learning fall into this category as well. This occrs when a learner decides to learn a specific topic, determines goals, and goes about achieving them. This could be activly searching youtube or google for information or seeking out an open education initiave that helps to guide the learning.


Informal learning has several different meanings.  Colardyn & Bjornavold, (2004, p. 71) call it unplanned and unstructured. This is the type of learning that occurs while the learner is doing something else. It can be intentional, but is usually unstructured. Most commonly it is the type of learning that takes place while at work or in everyday life.
Do we need to continue to make the distinction between the different types of learning? Should we standardize definitions for terms? Should we use DIY, non-formal, informal, and self directed learning interchangeably? Does it really matter how someone learns something? Isn’t it more important that they retain the knowledge, and have the ability to put it into practice?
  • Colardyn, D., & Bjornavold, J. (2004). Validation of formal, non-formal and informal learning: Policy and practices in EU member states. European Journal of Education, 39(1), 69-89. doi: 10.1111/j.0141-8211.2004.00167.x
  • Coombs, P. H., Prosser, R. C., & Ahmed, M. (1973). New paths to learning for rural children and youth: Nonformal education for rural development. New York: International Council for Educational Development
  • Hall, R. (2009). Towards a fusion of formal and informal learning environments: The impact of the read/write web. Electronic Journal of e-Learning, 7(1), 29-40.

I have submitted my paper to the Research Contest for the Student Prize. Thank you to Dr. Rob Darrow & Dr. Debra Harris for reading it and giving  suggestions.

Here is the revised paper that was submitted.