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The Two D's: Dissertation and Digital

The Two D's: Dissertation and Digital

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Written by Sheila Cooperman
January 19, 2014

I feel the urge, no the need, to write this post as I stand with metaphorical new shoes to begin my journey to the land of the Big D. It is not to be confused with Gee’s Discourse with a capital D; it is a separate use of the fourth letter of the English language.

Four years or so of finished and completed course work, comprehensives done and passed, prospectus in and approved. And now I stand at the precipice? On the precipice? of this journey called Dissertation. A myriad of emotions fill me. Excitement, fear, trepidation, pride, motivation. On Monday I feel prepared and ready. On Tuesday I feel inept and not ready. Wednesday fills me with the knowledge that I know what I want to do and how to do it, while Thursday has me running around in circles, staring at a white screen, totally unable to decide how to start a single sentence. Friday is a rest day and Saturday brings me back to work time. I know that much, if not all of my future weekend spare time, will be devoted to the Big D since the remainder of the week belongs to the classes of pre-adolescent students that need my attention and tutelage. And when I think of them, and of what we do every day, I feel more grounded in my journey toward the Big D because it is what is happening in my classroom and in the classrooms of today that brought me to this point.

The landscape of education is changing and the need to understand how the other big D, the d in digital, is being used to enhance the education of our students today. I am fascinated by everything I see and hear in my classroom, but I have found myself really interested in those students that can be identified as “reluctant adolescent boys”. Not new to the field, much has been studied about how boys are more disengaged and perform less successfully in traditional academic measure of literacy, but my interest is in studying how boys’ other literacy identities – their digital identities- can help academic identity development. I know what I want, and I know what I have to do to get there, but it is a daunting and fearful road. My computers are primed, my margins are set, My APA manual at my side. It is Chapter 1 time- the first of many. There is something special, scary, daunting, exciting about the first chapter. Firsts always have that special something-first dates, first child, first acceptances-firsts. I will hold on to the special feeling that firsts provide and start the journey with a bounce.

Check in every now and then to see where my journey has taken me. Perhaps I will meet up with Robert Frost on that road.