At a crossroads (#phdchat)

I'm at a crossroads – and I'm not sure what fork in the path to take. You see, once you start down the path of becoming a researcher, you see research potential in so many things. As a Ph.D. student, I need to choose only one thing and run with it – at least until I can prove to the world that I can be an independent researcher – once the Ph.D. is done, then the doors are open and I can do anything I want. Well, maybe that is a little dramatic, but the options are certainly grander after you have done the Ph.D.

Note that I'm taking a pragmatic approach to my Ph.D. I am doing it because I want to do it. It isn't about the career – you just need to read the economist article to see that a Ph.D. does not make economic sense – there is so much more too it than that. But even with that, it is just a hurdle to allow me to enter the world of academia. So, my thesis need not be my lifes work, just something to demostrate my competence.

So here is my dilemma. I could do research into mobile learning design – which is were I started, or I could do research into MOOC design. Mobile learning design will certainly prove to be more technically challenging, but MOOC design could be a lot more complex. I do feel that I could contribute in both areas – just in very different ways. Chances are, no matter will one I choose now, I will like incorporate mobile learning and MOOC in the future.

One would argue that I don't have to choose yet – I have until December to register my thesis topic; however, I'm taking any extra time I have this semester to prepare for comprehensives. I really do need to decide sooner rather then later, so that I can focus my literature reviews.

So, my question is, how do you decide? What criteria should one use to decide which research projects are worthy of ones time at the immediate moment, and which can wait until sometime in the future? What do you think?


  1. Hi Rebecca,
    I am interested in the fact that you are researching mobile learning. I just finished a book on the subject, aimed at business executives who have to decide what to do about this latest wave in learning technologies.
    There is a research project centred at the Ontario College of Art and Design University in Toronto called "Taking Ontario Mobile". I am heading the mobile learning part of the report, and would love to include you as an Ontario resource, and find out more about your PhD research. Please contact me at gary [at]
    You may also want to check out my writing on mobile learning at or I am also starting a new blog at on all work-based learning technologies.

    • Of course that is a whole other can of worms! It really depends on what one wants for a job. I’m looking at online teachings, so anything that involves technology and education would be good. My Masters actually did most of the training for the job – you just need a Ph.D to get one!

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