Embodied learning & its productive limitations

I love Katherine Firth’s post on embodied learning. It gets at all sorts of wonderful points behind my need to do not just pomodoros but S.M.A.R.T. pomodoros.

Research Degree Voodoo

It’s funny, we talk about limitations as if they were a bad thing . As if eternity and infinity and boundlessness was superior to now and today and here.

But we all know that nothing motivates like a deadline. We all know that some of the best poems are sonnets. We all know that the bloated budget film is often worse than the tight little indie feature (the Lord of the Rings films vs The Hobbit films anyone?).

Much of the writing about learning online seems to be all like:

‘on the internet there are no boundaries, no bodies, no time! We are infinite and beyond our bodies and this is a good thing!’

N. Katharine Hayles (1999) has already effectively addressed this tendency, (and I’ve already written a riposte to this point, another attack on the disembodied life of the mind), and so I’m not going to rehash that particular argument…

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WizFolio: A Competitor to Mendeley (more Robust) that Enables Writing, Citing, and Collaboration in the Cloud?

Greetings, all!

As I mentioned in my previous post, I’m in the final stages of my thesis work and cannot post as frequently or in-depth as I typically would.

Normally I would take the time to trial an app or piece of software before mentioning it here, and I would include my initial impressions of the app/software, often followed by a follow-up post updating my impressions.

Since it’s crunch time for me, I’m simply going to share a link to the app’s website and a link to a few of their videos. If you do look into the app, I’d love to hear your first impressions.

NOTE: That’s my way of saying, “I’m curious. Post your comments, please! I can’t in good conscience look into this now, but perhaps there’s a fix (LOL!): I could learn about it based on your experiences and what you think, right? Say something! Say something!” 😉

Yeah, I know. But as a former computer scientist turned educator turned researcher, it’s just in me. 🙂 Oh, well. 😀

On to the app itself . . .

The Cross-platform Web App: WizFolio

There are many WizFolio videos on YouTube, including many on how Apple users use WizFolio on the Ipad and in other iOS environments (WizFolio is a web app, though). The following three videos, in my opinion, seem to provide the viewer with a good sense of WizFolio. However, as I have yet to explore more videos or the app itself, I may be in error there.

One thing: What about the pay wall issue? This seems to not simply allow folks to scale it, but just obliterate it completely. Hmm. Remember the movie “A Perfect Murder” with Michael Douglas, Gwyneth Paltrow, and Viggo Mortensen? You probably remember that scene when, with oh so much ice, Michael Douglas’s character told Gwyneth’s character “That’s not happiness to see me.” Yeah. I feel that scene could be re-enacted, with WizFolio as Michael’s character and Gwyneth’s played by any of your paid, online journals of choice.

Aside: Paperpile (here’s a video) seems similar and has me wondering if things are just going that way now, to the cloud? Paperpile is a Google reference, search, and citation app for using Google Docs to writing individually or in collaboration, with citation and auto-reference-list-building functionality and such. I don’t know if I’m ready to draft and write — to have my pre-publish thoughts — in the cloud! I haven’t yet needed to write collaboratively, though.

That about exhausts my current level of expertise ( 😉 ) on WizFolio. As always, Godspeed regarding all of your present endeavors. The videos are embedded below.

Happy writing, and take care!


Are You a “Drafter-Type” Writer while Your Advisor is a “Planner-Type” Writer? Or Vice Versa?

Are you a drafter-type writer while your advisor is a planner-type writer? Or vice versa?

Please read the latest Thesis Whisperer’s post. It is EXCELLENT! And it turns out that this can matter IMMENSELY. You can find the post here: http://thesiswhisperer.com/2013/03/20/are-you-on-the-same-page-as-your-supervisor/#comment-31459


Blessings and vibes!

“Succinctifying”: One Awesome Technique for it that Rocks!

A PhinisheD forum member recently shared the following AWESOME technique for “succintifying”:

I found myself having to do some similar ‘succinctifying’ (love that term) recently on a big section of my proposal draft and stumbled across this technique –
I took a bunch of index cards (small ones, so I can’t get too wordy) then went through my draft and put each key idea/argument on a separate card, summarised in one sentence or less. Then on the back of the cards, I listed the sources I had to cite to support each one. Once I’d done that, I found a few peripheral points that I was able to drop (so interesting! yet so unnecessary…) I also managed to consolidate some of the citations, reducing several footnotes in different sections down to a single cite. Then, I played ‘shuffle the index cards’ and worked out a more streamlined way to structure everything.

Good luck with the revising!

I love this person’s method! It gets you out of your computer a bit and allows you to take a step back.

How do you streamline your writing? Please let us know!


New Year’s THEME Instead of Resolution: What Would Be Your Theme and Litmus Test Question?

Over at one of my favorite academic blogs, The Thesis Whisperer, I posted the following response to the blog author’s latest entry about the power in having a New Year’s theme versus a New Year’s resolution:

. . . I’m thus now updating my theme: This year’s theme is “instrumental.” In goal form, this would be: “I maintain an 85-to-15 . . . or better . . . instrumental-to-expressive SPLIT of my thesising activity!”

I choose this theme because it’s most pressing for me as a grad student at this juncture. Here is a quote to explain what these terms mean:“Instrumental behaviour consists of actions leading toward a stated goal; for instance, the goal of learning to drive a car might involve the instrumental behaviours of booking driving lessons, buying a copy of the Highway Code etc. Measured against this criterion, the de Leonists’ behaviour appeared senseless. Expressive behaviour, on the other hand, consists of actions demonstrating to other people what sort of person you are; for instance, sitting in the front of a lecture theatre and taking copious notes in a very visible manner to show that you take your studies very seriously.” Source: Petre, Marian; Rugg, Gordon (2011-03-28). The Unwritten Rules of PhD Research (Open Up Study Skills) (Kindle Locations 366-370). McGraw Hill International. Kindle Edition.

THAT all said, “instrumental” may suffice to capture my theme for the year. “Is what I’m about to do INSTRUMENTAL?” would be my litmus test question. 

What about you? What would be your theme and corresponding litmus test question?

The Good that COULD NEVER Have Happened without the Bad That SHOULD NEVER Have Happened


When I’ve been thesis-ing for hours and just reach a point where I can’t process another dat-gum thesis-related thought, I switch to some other activity such as (a) watching episodes of “Suits” (USA) or “The Big Bang Theory;” (b) taking a walk; (c) “fixin'” myself a healthy snack; (d) or reading what I intend to be non-thesis pleasure reading or personal development reading.

So, I just read the most INTERESTING phrase in one of the personal development -type books I’m currently reading during thesis down-time. It is:

“In the case of human-caused evil, it will be a good that never could have happened without the evil that never should have happened. We’re dealing with the mystery of paradox here.”–Paul F. Knitter

Mm. What a profound description to bring to the fore the neatness and coolness of such occurrences, ya know? It’s like in the bible story of Joseph when he tells his brothers, “You meant it for my bad but God meant it for my good” (serious paraphrase).

So, once again, my non-thesis related reading takes me straight back to thinking about my thesis and graduate school and life in general.

Question for you: Has this happened in your thesis or diss writing, or in your graduate school experience as a whole . . . that something really important and good has come of and is only possible because of something bad that never should have happened?

It might be some good idea, good resource, good connection, good meeting, good class, good opportunity, what have you, that happened precisely because initially something “bad” happened.

I dunno! I’m sure this has occurred for me, but I’ll have to think about it a moment before I have clarity about it.

And you? Any such joyous, inspirational, and/or victorious stories of this nature to share?

Regardless, it’s a thought-provoking phrase, yes? Food for thought indeed!

Blessings, and I hope your day is bright today.  


NEW! Good updates to the “Starting & Staying Organized” page



Good news! Recent updates (i.e. on June 13, 2012) have been made to page one of this blog, the “Starting & Staying Organized” page. To access the page, simply scroll to the TOP of the blog and click on the menu it “(1) Starting & Staying Organized.”

I hope you enjoy the new content and get something out of it–even if only inspiration or an idea :). And as always, your feedback is MORE than welcome!



[Video] Quotes and Tips Photo Album for a PhD/MA Survival Kit

The best dissertation is a done dissertation.

One tiny step at a time: That’s the way.

Working feels better than not working.

Quotes and tips such as these actually really help as they take root and become a part of the thesis or dissertation writer’s mindset, especially when reinforced and shared in a community of writers and researchers.

So how to keep them at the forefront of one’s mind once you identify the quotes and tips that really help you?

I’m sure there are many, many ways. What I’ve done is to create a 4-inch by 6-inch photo album of said quotes and tips, complete with a STAND so the quotes and tips can be displayed as I work (see 50-sec video below). The frame cost me $5, and it took me 15 minutes to copy and paste the quotes and tips as jpegs or MS PowerPoint slides and another 6-7 minutes to print and cut them out.

Besides those displayed in the video, I have some VERY personal KITA (“kick-in-the-a**) quotes in the photo album as well! The photo album is an item in my PhD/MA Survival Kit.

How do you keep helpful quotes, tips, and desired mindsets at the forefront of your mind? Please share!

My First Prezi (i.e an alternative to PowerPoint) !!!


After watching a TED Talk about the no-no’s and to-do’s of making PowerPoint presentations, I gave making my first Prezi a shot. (A Prezi is like a PowerPoint, but with zoom-in, zoom-out, and other features).

This content of it is a response to an assignment in Joseph A. Maxwell’s book “Qualitative Research Design.” It’s a “for-the-researcher’s-eyes-only” type of assignment. In other words, it’s not to be shared professionally. It’s just to help the researcher reflect on ultimate aims, possible related questions, unconscious biases, etc.

Here’s the link: My first (very informal) Prezi: The Evolution of the Research Question

What do you think about the Prezi format? Too much for the academy?

To be fair, there’s a whole bunch I don’t yet know about how to make a Prezi better. My font was too big for most of the time, for instance. Too close!

But about the Prezi technology itself in general: What do you think? Have you seen one presented in a formal academic setting? Have you or anyone you’ve know presented to your department using a Prezi instead of a PowerPoint? What were the results? How were the talk, the presentation, and the Prezi itself received?

As always, thanks for visiting!

Have a blessed day!