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  • Writer's picturealicjapawluczuk

2017 #PhD review: 5 things that went well.

I'm currently away from my Scotland [and my PhD desk]. I decided to take a moment to summarise my PhD existence over the last 12 months. Most of the articles that I recently read tend to focus on "how terrible the 2017 has been". That is why, I decided to highlight my top 5 positive events.



1. Experiential learning: lecturing Being Digital

This is certainly on of my favourite highlights of 2017. Lecturing Being Digital allowed me to return to what I love the most - working with people. This experience was special for two main reasons. Firstly, it provide me with opportunities to test my community education ideas in an academic setting. Since I worked with a large group of young people (70), some of my activities had to be readjusted. However, I was pleased to learn from the feedback forms that many students appreciated experiential and hands-on approaches to learning.

Secondly, preparing my lectures helped me to check if my digi-knowledge is up-to-date. Being Digital is a fascinating module, covering many aspects of living in a digital era. To make it interesting and current, I had to ensure that my digital stories are well-researched. Also, working with younger digital generations helped me to somehow dive into their vision of the digital world, the apps they use etc.

What I appreciate the most about teaching (in both academic and non-academic settings) is the opportunity to co-create knowledge with my students. Participatory learning approach has always been at the centre of my work and embedding it into my academic teaching practice makes quite a lot of sense. Practical tasks, where the students were able to actively engage with some of the theoretical concepts, were certainly one of the most exciting (and possibly the most enlightening too). Also, thanks to this pro-active approach to teaching, I'm constantly learning about the student's world and their learning needs (huge thanks to my students!).

2. Publications: getting encouraging reviews.

In the 2nd year of my research, I finally felt that I had something useful to share in the context of academic world. After testing my writing skills in 2016 and getting quite a number of harsh reviews, I realised that I should still wait a bit mote before sharing any of my literature reviews or data collection findings. Finally, in 2017, I applied to several conferences and got some positive/encouraging reviews. Although my inner sceptic's voice is still telling me that my work should be significantly improved, receiving good reviewers comments is still something to celebrate.

3. Becoming an office geek.

While doing my literature review in my first year, I mainly worked from home. In 2017, once of my colleagues from the Centre for Social Informatics moved out of the office and left her spot to me. This meant I inherited an amazing office desk, which is just by the window - and this is where you can find me most days now.

4. Completing Data Collection: 1) interviews with digital youth workers; 2) focus group.

In May 2017, I passed my first year transfer review, which meant I officially became a PhD student. As soon as I found that my overall research proposal and literature review make sense, I decided to start my data collection as soon as possible. Thankfully, due to the fact that I have been actively involved in the digital youth community over that last few years, finding research participants wasn't very difficult. In fact, I managed to complete 20 interviews by the end of July. I then dedicated 3 months to data analysis (found some fascinating themes in my data, but will cover this in a separate blog post).

After completing my data analysis, I decided to share my findings with a group of digital youth workers. I wanted to learn about their perception of the categories I had identified in the data collected in 20 interviews. In order to do that, I facilitated an interactive discussion session, using cards sort exercise. Below, you can see a photo of the cards I created for the exercise.

5. Conference marathon: I loved every moment of it.

2017 has been a busy year when it comes to conferences. I attended and presented at many events. I enjoyed everyone of them. Meeting many academics from all areas of information science, computing and digital media has been a mind-blowing experience. I got inspired, made some friends and learned a lot. I'm embedding some tweets below give you a glimpse of my overall conference experience in 2017. To find out more about my presentations, you can visits Publications & Presentations section.

Final note: 2017 has also been challenging in many other ways..

So here it is - my 5 top PhD highlights of 2017. It is important to note, that this year has also been quite difficult in loads of ways, particularly when it comes to my health (endometriosis). Also in the context of my work, I failed many times. But in way, I also managed to learn how to accept failure as part of my learning process - as a researcher, digital youth worker and lecture.

However, the purpose of this blog was to focus on good things - and to be honest the process of writing this up was quite therapeutic.

Huge thanks to everyone who supported me in 2017 - I would not be able to do it without support of my partner, family, friends, PhD mates and PhD supervisors. Your are ALL amazing :)

Looking forward to more PhD adventures in 2018.

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