Guest post from Nicole Christen (Edul@b PhD student)
From a student perspective, one of the challenges with online learning at the PhD level is networking and building relationships with other scholars in the field. The EDEN Research Workshop proved to be a valuable experience, not only in terms of the content delivered, but also in terms of the opportunities for early-stage researchers to connect and share ideas with experienced researchers in the field of distance education. As an early-stage researcher, the feedback I received and the discussions I had with other researchers provided me with a richer understanding of the process that I’m embarking upon in my research.
Following the EDEN workshop in Oldenburg, Germany, I was able to travel to Barcelona to visit the UOC and meet with the Edul@b group. Once again, the experience of presenting my research to the group in a face-to-face setting enabled a deep discussion of my research plan. The generation of new ideas and perspectives will shape my research study, adding to its strength.
This reiterated of the importance of networking and relationship building as a part of the PhD experience. Online PhD programs are essential to students, such as myself, who would not otherwise be able to pursue a research career due to the constraints of traditional graduate programs. With that said, after my experiences over the past two weeks, I recommend that online graduate student place a priority on attending conferences and take advantage of any opportunity to meet with their research colleagues in-person.