My first dissertation module has come to a close. It was actually fairly easy-going – although that could also be due to my attitude. There are still 17-18 months to go until dissertation deadline, which at the moment looks like a long time and gives ample reason to procrastinate. Nevertheless, the deadline for the proposal is 12th August, which actually gives reason to that uneasy feeling before panic! The reason for that uneasy feeling is that I think I still haven’t done enough. Sure, I read and watch some documentaries, but that is rather entertainment than hard-knocked science. Another problem is that I found my topic underresearched. This, on the one hand means I have potential room for originality. But it also means to make some sense of the entire issue of Chile’s involvement in the Falklands War.
Anyway, the three E-tivities of the dissertation module helped to define and refine the dissertation on general. For all the campus students and future distance-learners: E-tivities are online activities students are required to complete. They are not graded in dissertation module but are in the regular ones. They involeve article reviews and designing essay plans etc. E-tivities have substantial impact on the overall module grade.
E-tivity one of the first dissertation module demanded us to take any topic of potential interest and think hard about it over a period of time. We were advised to formulate questions, write them on post-it notes and put them in places we frequently look at, such as the fridge or the laptop. This way the topic(s) stay with you over long period of time. Although I already knew my topic early this technique really helped to identify gaps, areas of interest, and to create a roadmap in your mind. Great exercise to give some direction!
The second E-tivity was a wiki. This was quite new to me. A page in form of a table had been set up. On the left side various statements in the form of ‘I am confident in academic writing’ or ‘I know where the gaps in my topic are’ had already been inserted. Students were asked to put in initials (XX for those who wanted to remain anonymous) in the corresponding column (very confident, not confident, and unsure) and provide some comments if desired. The exercise was illuminating in identifying one’s own needs and those of the group.
The third E-tivity was really simple. The university has a ‘dissertation proposal planner’. This is some online form that’s to be filled out with data such as the proposal deadline, word count and so on. When done the planner sends out a plan in the form of an E-mail. Though a rough sketch real progress from E-tivity 1 can be discerned at this stage.
The only thing that remains to do now is to have a serious sit down and fill a Word document with some bits&bytes. Funny, but this turns out to be the hardest E-tivity…