Guest Post – How ALT-C has shaped my scholarly identity

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

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!

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