Canada!

So I’ve commenced my last major trip for my study leave for this year – visiting the University of Windsor, Ontario. Study leave trips are always a little odd for me, it involves a dramatic transition to living in another country, focussing immediately on your research projects, and working as hard as you can so that you feel that it is all worth it.

Of course, it is interesting and fun too – working with new people, staying in a new city, exploring and working out how the local culture works. It is great if you can find a balance between these…

My focus while I am at Windsor is to continue my work in collaborative leaning, but also to explore some of the expertise here in self regulation, and blended and online learning. Everyone has been lovely so far, and very willing to talk with me. I am well aware, though, that it takes a fair amount of time to really build relationships that will last, so I am hoping to spend a fair amount of time working with people here over the next month.

While I am not chatting to people, I am going to be working on two papers. One is a phenomenographic study of students’ perceptions on collaboration: why they think they do it, what they get out of it, how it makes them feel. So far, I have been able to ascertain some interesting dichotomies in terms of what they feel comfortable doing, and what they feel that should be doing. It’s interesting work!

The other paper is a case study description of applying system execution modelling techniques to two examples from the defence domain – back to software architecture, with a really tangible project. It is nice to switch between two such completely different areas!

While working on such different areas though, I have been thinking about why I persist in research in both education and discipline areas. It’s certainly not easy sometimes, keeping both project areas going, and building up enough scale in project groups. But what I have come to realise is that I have no choice. I’m not the only one either – reading Boyer and other’s recently in their thoughts on scholarship and research make it very clear that the role of an academic is not as easily partitioned into the clean cut areas of research/teaching/admin. Our research bleeds through into our teaching, and vice versa – and our discovery and exploration in teaching has to be informed and contribute to research itself. If we, as academics, are driven by inquiry, and the need to improve, extend, understand then we must undertake research and scholarship in everything that we do…

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