Dr Denise Sweeney, School of Education, University of Nottingham, July 2021
Have you wondered about how learning technologists and other TEL practitioners become scholars? In exploring this very question I came across ‘identity box’ as a data collection method to elicit experience (Brown, 2018).
I thought I would test it out myself for this blog piece. I have always enjoyed my ALT-C experiences and thought I would reflect on the part these conferences have played in my scholarship development.
My scholarly identity box as of July 2021
Item 1: Photos of my mum and dad
Intellectual curiosity – My family travelled to Scotland so my dad could complete his post-graduate studies. In those days it was by sea not air. My mum had 3 children under 5 when I was born in Ayrshire which was not an easy feat. For me it meant that I was able gain a British passport and have the ability to work in the UK as I do now. My parents never stopped learning and instilled this in my siblings and I a deep interest in the world around us and sense of curiosity. I am thankful for this.
Item 2: My first academic paper, co-authored and the peer review comments
Persevere in learning – The first time I received peer review feedback on an academic paper was really daunting. The paper was double-blind peer reviewed and there was some really harsh feedback. (It was ‘accept with significant revisions’). I was lucky that my co-author was much more experienced in the publishing game and helped me overcome the hurdle of revisions. It was a real baptism of fire moment!
Item 3: Map of Leicester and Joseph Carey Merrick (aka The Elephant Man)
Academic humility – In 2010 my family and I arrived in Leicester where I took up a 3 year educational designer post at the University of Leicester. Joseph Carey Merrick (The Elephant Man) comes to mind when I think of Leicester. (He was born there and spent his formative years in the city). At the University of Leicester, a few kind colleagues brought me into the fold, we conducted research together, shared our findings at a number of ALT-C conferences together and I got to know the ALT community through these interactions. I have fond memories of their generosity and humility.
Item 4: My husband UK surfing style and EdD examiners’ report
Set goals – I wouldn’t have been able to complete my doctoral studies if it wasn’t for my husband – he was the cook and child-carer most of the time and not once did he complain or question what I was doing. I will always be grateful for the surfing trip to Cornwall with the kids, so that I could complete the final stages of my thesis. I had set myself a goal and it was through his domestic support over those six years that helped me achieve that goal in 2018.
Item 5: Recent publication in Studies in technology enhanced learning on my PGCHE participants’ engagement with TEL literature
Academic risks – I have learnt a lot from the academic staff I teach on our PGCHE. These culturally and disciplinary diverse colleagues have given me opportunities to publish and present at ALT-C. I have also committed to give back by peer reviewing on a number of occasions ALT-C abstracts. It keeps me up to date, it helps my own writing, and I hope that I contribute to ensuring that the process is rigorous and helpful to the colleagues developing their own scholarly identity.
The rationale of identity boxes is to allow for a more embodied approach that generally is less reliant on text. I hope to use this method in the future. Would you be interested in creating your own identity box? I have linked Brown’s article as starter.
If you would like to learn more about becoming a TEL scholar you may want to join our session. Colleagues and I are presenting our paper: ‘Are we there yet? Becoming a TEL scholar: code switching and building identity through the ALT ELESIG Scholar Scheme (pilot)’ at this year’s ALT-C.
Look forward to catching up online!