I count myself as fortunate. I chose a graduate program based on the opportunity to learn more about particular interest areas that were already extremely close to my heart; and everybody who knows me will tell you that where my heart leads, everything else follows. It has no other choice ;-) . Now, less than a year from my graduation date (hopefully) and I am even more grateful that I entered a graduate program with relevant interests already established.
Since I have had the opportunity, over the course of the program, in which to research, refine, and redefine my interests – community, Community of Inquiry model, engaging adult and online learners, building thriving online learning communities – I have begun to understand how these areas fit into the larger arenas of adult education and distance education. That’s two years of exposure to and accumulation of new resources, of moving past the superficial to synthesis. With a master’s thesis coming up, I see this as a definitive advantage. So, when some peers are considering topics for their master’s thesis, I have already established a formidable annotated bibliography and written a few preliminary papers on the broader topic areas involved.
I didn’t realize how far I may have progressed in the thesis development process until this semester. After deciding to switch to full-time status, the long nights of homework and constant anxiety brought on some insomnia and a few nightmares. One night recently, I woke up suddenly at 4:30 am, ran for the first piece of lined paper and pencil that I could find. In about sixty seconds or so, I had written out what looks to be the theoretical framework for my master’s thesis…I think.