Pursuing a PhD can be a lonely journey. Finding like-minded people to support you in your journey can help reduce the loneliness. The idea of searching out these like-minded people is often called “finding your tribe”; there is a great blog post about it titled “how to build your tribe – finding ‘your people’“.
Over the last year of PhD, I’ve been trying to find my tribes. I use the plural here, because I have a found a few tribes, but I’m still looking for others. I’ve found the tribe of PhD students within my cohort, where we meet at least once a month, keep in touch regularly on Facebook, and provide support for one another. I’ve found a tribe with my supervisor and her group of students, and I’ve found a virtual tribe in #phdchat on twitter. But I’m still missing my tribe relating to the type of research that I do. There are a lot of great people doing research at Ottawa U, but none of them doing design-based research in faculty development to support technology adoption – actually there isn’t even anything close. So I’m feeling like I need to find myself another tribe.
Whenever I find myself feeling tribeless, I find that I start looking into academic conferences – places where groups of like-minded academics gather to share ideas. So far, the closest I’ve come to finding my tribe academically has been when I attended mLearn 2011 in Beijing. There, I met people who share my interest in both learning and technology. I found other women that were also technology geeks! And I found other students who are planning to use design-based research methodology to study some for of technology-enhanced learning.
So, again, I am trying to find my tribes. In doing so, I’ve created a page (here and linked from the Academic Resources menu) that lists a bunch of different academic conferences related to professional development in higher education, learning technology, or mobile learning. After several hours of compiling the list, I realize that it is a never-ending task, and yet, I don’t feel like I’ve found the “right” one yet. It is difficult to determine if the conference is academically oriented enough, or the level of value of the conference, simply from its description. So, if you have any suggestions, I’d be happy to review it and if appropriate add it o the list. Also, if you know of any blog posts where people who have been to the conference provide commentary, I’d be happy to link to those too. In the mean time, I’m planning to attend several move conferences in the next few months, in the hopes of finding more tribes.