We have many talented doctoral students in The Department of Learning Technologies. Our hope is to be able to interview and showcase these PhD learners here in the LT Forum as each reaches milestones through-out their journey towards their graduation. Reading about other students’ successes may boost that extra energy needed for others to push themselves forward and learning about challenges may help guide others. We also want to spotlight our students so that new learners come join our team and travel with us in the Learning Technologies – a great place to be! [Jenny Wakefield.]Our third interview is with Laura Pasquini, Doctoral Student in the APTI program:
Laura Pasquini – PhD Learner in ATPI
JW: Tell me a little bit about what made you decide to enroll in the ATPI program and pursue a PhD/EdD. (When did you enroll? How long have you been working towards your exam and course completion?)
LP: In looking for a graduate program that suited my scholar-practitioner interests in higher education, I thought that the Department of Learning Technologies at UNT was best suited for my talents and interests. After completing a course in Fall 2009. I decided to join the ATPI program in Spring 2010, as I liked the interdisciplinary approach and learning model that was built into the curriculum. As an ATPI doctoral student approaching completion, I appreciate the ability to study in the field of applied technology, human resource management, organizational change/theory, and educational research while connecting with faculty and leaders in the field. The end of 2012 marks the end of my course work and movement into being a PhD candidate. I am fortunate to be one of the first ATPI doctoral students to complete the NEW ATPI portfolio (instead of the comprehensive exam) by November, and after my last ATTD class with Dr. Nimon this Fall I will be ready to propose my doctoral dissertation and move on to being a doctoral candidate. The tentative plan is to be complete the ATPI doctoral program and graduate around May 2014.
JW: Who is your major professor?
LP: Dr. Jeff Allen is my major professor. It has been great collaborating and learning from one another. I appreciate the ability to work with and contribute to research, publications, and opportunities in the LT department. He has been a great faculty advisor who knows how to challenge and support my professional/academic needs.
JW: What has been the most challenging parts of your studies so far?
LP: Balance. I am a student, staff, and instructor at the University of North Texas. My role as an Academic Counselor/Instructor with the Office for Exploring Majors, Undergraduate Studies supports undecided students with their major/career choices and academic journey; whereas I am often found on campus, late in class, or researching/writing for another project. Besides working on courses, I have found great values in collaborating with other authors on publications, connecting in the field with other educators, and meeting corporate leaders. Besides working on courses, I have been busy with contributing to professional associations and journals with research, publications, and presentations. This year I have taken on the role as the editor for the Learning and Performance Quarterly (LPQ) which is a student-led, blind peer-review open-access online journal. We just published our first issue on May 22, 2012 and I’m looking forward to working with our reviewers and editors on the second issue over the summer.
JW: Tell us a little bit about your journey so far. What are challenges you’ve had to overcome? Have you had any pleasant surprises, aha-moments you’d like to share?
LP: I am originally from Toronto/Niagara Falls, Canada, so it took me a little while to adjust to the climate and the ways of Texas. I have been fortunate to meet some hospitable friends and colleagues who have helped my transition to the Lone Star state. So far I have really enjoyed my PhD journey. I have appreciated the projects, classes, discussions, and, most importantly, the connections with peers from UNT and in the learning technology field. I think that learning is an ongoing process, and developing as a researcher and academic is a continual experience. I have learned to celebrate the accomplishments and milestones along the way, and to be open to any feedback and new ideas I am exposed to along the way.
JW: What presentations have you attended/presented at? Tell us a little bit about one of them. Anything in particular that comes to mind? Advice for others?
LP: I have been fortunate to present research, papers, and theoretical sessions at a variety of professional associations and conferences over the last few years. Some have been collaborative and others have been a great learning experience where I have engaged with participants in meaningful discussions about shared research experiences.
LP: Over the last year I have been fortunate to be asked to share ideas and thoughts around connected learning and social practices for professionals as an invited speaker a few conferences/meetings. Last fall I was invited to talk to the University of Hawaii System Advising group at their annual workshop in Honolulu, HI about “Why Advising Networks Matter” and how holistic, community models of connected advising practices best support our learners. I just returned from Helena, MT where I was invited to be the opening keynote speaker for the Mountain MoodleMoot. During this talk I shared strategies for developing learning curriculum and ideas to support social learning with Digital Pedagogy to Engage. Both talks offered me opportunities to share my research ideas and practical experiences with social, connected learning; but more importantly it allowed me to connect with colleagues to discuss how these ideas can be applied to provide solutions for issues in education.
JW: What publications and/or creative works have you published?
LP: In collaborating with a few authors from our campus and other locations in the US, I have experience publishing book chapters, monograph chapters, and conference proceedings around topics in technology for advising, collaborative learning, and innovative practices for performance and learning. I am currently working on a few manuscripts for peer-reviewed journals. If you want to see my publications, I have current publications shared on my Mendeley account. Besides formal publications, I am often reflecting and sharing thoughts about my research on my blog or podcasting with the BreakDrink.com Student Affairs and Higher Education community on the Campus Technology Connection podcast.
JW: Have you decided on your dissertation topic and if so what was it? If so, what made you decide on this topic?
LP: I am currently culling through my literature review and narrowing my dissertation topic – which should be finalized over the break in coursework this summer. My current research thread and interests are in the areas of collaborative learning environments and personal learning networks, specifically how these networks and environments impact learning, training, and development in organizations. What interested me in these topics was personal experience connecting and learning in both formal and informal learning networks – specifically with peer-to-peer learning and mentoring in professional organizations. I hope to share some insights and values to how alternative forms of learning, training, and mentoring can impact professional development and career growth.
JW: Have you been studying full-time or also been working? How do you feel about combining PhD studies and working full-time (if you did)? What are things to potentially keep in mind?
LP: As I shared above, I have been working full-time as well as working on my doctoral studies, research, and publications. I will say that it is quite busy and challenging; however with some effective time management and organization it is not impossible to accomplish your academic goals. I am grateful to have supportive peers, colleagues, faculty, and family who continue to motivate and push me along my PhD journey. Although it is not impossible, I will say that it takes a great amount of energy, effort, and time to commit to doctoral research and academic professional development.
JW: Any recommendations you would like to share with the rest of us on the journey towards a PhD/Ed.D?
LP: Stay the course. It seems like a long journey to the end of the PhD/Ed.D, but I think that there are some valuable experiences and rewards along the way. Embrace the challenges and opportunities that you have as a doctoral student beyond the course/program requirements. You can help shape your degree and academic experience, so be sure to make the most of it by getting involved, getting connected, and embrace new learning experiences that you stumble upon along the way.
JW: Anything else you would like to add?
LP: Thanks for asking me to share my thoughts about the Learning Technologies department and ATPI doctoral program. For those of you who want to follow along my PhD journey, I can often be found tweeting or reflecting on my blog. Get connected and share your experiences with me: http://about.me/laurapasquini