First year is over

Here I look back to my first study year as Phd student.

I picked half of the needed credits in TLU, although I did not participate in very many compulsory lectures. I would be more satisfied if I had passed more courses, as the second year will be more busy for me, because of personal issues.

The most important course was probably Science Methodology, as it made me lot think about of my reserach plan. The seminars were also useful, because I got several chances to talk about my thesis and it made me more brave. I was the most shy person in the world when I entered to my studies, I was not able to talk about my plans, not to mention that I had some argumentation. But that changed a lot during this year.

I am also very proud that I participated in Gothenburg University’s course, that was evidentially too difficult for me and several times I was thinking of quitting. But the decision would have been the disappointment mainly for myself, therefore I am very happy for finishing it. Directly I did not get much input for my thesis, but certainly it was useful and interesting and I saw that there are research groups who have quite different approach than we do.

Additionally I made some (good?) work in IntelLEO which is directly related with my thesis and that job gave a lot of input for my theoretical framework. I particpated in two meetings in Vienna and Barcelona, so I have quite strong ownership with the project.

I was responsible for organising one trial with pre-service teachers in Haapsalu Kolledzh, who entered to their first observation practice at school and used our Koolielu environment for performing tasks. The cross-organisational practice activities were provided in order to support collaboration between school and university. I have not yet analysed the results, but the first impression was that a) when students do not have to reflect (only perfrom some tasks) and reflection is voluntary, then they do not do it; b) school supervisors were quite passive in the Koolielu, they were supposed to give feedback and comment the tasks, but the activity was low.

I participated in Porto, Open Classroom Conference, where I presented the paper, the reflection is here. Together with Mart, we prepared the paper “Supporting Teachers in Cross-organisational Knowledge Building with a Web-based Portfolio ” for ECER, which was accepted, probably Mart will present it in August, Helsinki. Since the autumn, I have prepared my first journal article with my supervisor Kai and Mart and hopefully it will be sent out to the reviewers this month. With Mart, we presented the chapter to the book of “personal learning environments”, which is under review at the moment, the feedback should come in the end of the June.
I also sent the proposal for PLE2010 conference, my proposal was under second review and I quitted, as probably I can’t travel to the conference this time and I wanted full-paper, but reviewers suggested short-paper, so let it be this year.

I wish I had done:
– read more books that are waiting on my shelf, like Motivation in Learning Contexts, Between School and Work, New Perspectives on Transfer and Boundary-Crossing, The Knowledge-Creating Company and Vygotsky’s “Mind in Society“.
– been more actively in touch with my Turku’s supervisors, but mainly because of little daughter, it was difficult for me to be in Turku. Probably it will be more difficult next year and I am not sure how to solve it. I have written several times to them, about my recent activities and plans for the future, but I am not sure if it is enough. On the other hand, I have super supervisor here in Tallinn, so at the moment I do not have the need for extra support. Although expert and critical opinions are welcome at this stage. I did not get any credits also this year in Turku, although I am planning to send my Gothenburg certificate for them. Should I be worried about it or is it PhD studies and not so strict as lower levels..
– reflect more about my studies during this year, it would have been useful material for me, but mainly in order to believe in my studies myself, I have to practically use the same methods as I suggest others to do
– and as mentioned – participated in more courses, so the next years would be easier

As a whole, the year was very useful for me. Mainly because of that I became more confident and I found my place in our research group. I have excellent supervisor, who believes in me and this is one of the most important things, I see that now. My peers from TLU studies, have admitted that being alone during the studies is very difficult – your supervisor is busy professor who is more like formally supervisor and will meet you once a year and no support from research group either. So my skype discussions at least once a day with Kai, extra discussions with collegues in CET and tips and advices from Mart during the driving home from work, is luxury for Phd student and I am grateful for that.

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