Some of the basics we learned in kindergarten can also be applied to how you learn as an adult. I have been thinking a great deal about how to organize my information and research as a graduate student. I strive to be both an open learner and transparent educator, so let’s see if I can use a few principles from my kindergarten years to explain how.
With the ease and cost of the social web it is easy to share with others. Social media applications and resources provide a great community for others to read, publish, and write content online. In a previous post, I shared how I engage with social media both personally and professionally. The value I get from sharing is that if I pay it forward it often comes back in return. I value ideas, articles, opportunities and challenges that are posted in my PLN. Learning is a continuous cycle.
Don’t take things that aren’t yours.
As a researcher and writer, I am often scanning and reading for a literature review or an article. To quote a common phrase by my faculty advisor – “Publish or perish!” One lesson I learned early in my academic career came from a History faculty who told our class, “You have no original thought. Be sure to frequently cite your sources.” This statement is somewhat true. You might have a great idea; however it has most likely originated from someone or somewhere else. Using online bibliographic resources like Zotero and Mendeley are key for my APA-induced world. When I am blogging, creating presentations or sharing in my networks – I often refer to where I get these great resources too. It’s important to give credit, where credit is due.
Live a balanced life.
Remember to nurture yourself. Take the time to attend to your basic “F” needs: family, friends, food, fitness and fun. Although you may be consumed by your academic interests, it’s important to find harmony in your life. As my Niagara University Crew coach said, “If you want to row strong and win the race, you need to be able to balance your boat.” Balance is critical to sustain yourself and your priorities – do not forget to find time to laugh.
Take a nap every afternoon.
Naps are great. Maybe an afternoon nap is not realistic in your office, however effective sleep-care maintenance can be. Consider taking breaks throughout your day: stand up, leave distraction, and get un-connected for a while. Find a way to hit your refresh button – take a walk, sit in the sunshine, meditate or daydream. These breaks create a space for your mental reserve.
Hold hands and stick together.
Many find the process of the PhD daunting, but just remember: YOU ARE NOT ALONE. I have found a few different groups and spaces to connect to on locally and far away. to support my learning and research. On campus, I am part of a collaborative doctoral student research group for my program ATPI where we connect weekly IRL and on a wiki/google docs for projects, presentations and publication work. The #phdchat community has been a group I have found helpful to chat with on Twitter and ponder my own process – plus they have some great resources to share on their wiki. Beyond that, I have a connected to the PhD Journey group on Flickr, tagged my bookmarks in a Delicious way, and stay on top of my news and trending information via RSS in a Google Reader.
Be aware of wonder.
There is always room to learn. Believe it or not, it is not possible to know everything there is to know. That’s what keeps life interesting. I try to open my learning options by staying tuned in to new literature, scanning a myriad of blogs, listening to a variety of podcast, or connecting to a researcher in a different field then my own. Don’t let your academic work get dusty.