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Shut up & write! Facilitating informal learning in doctoral education

By Inger Mewburn, Lindy Osborne and Glenda Amayo Caldwell


Providing help for research degree writing within a formal structure is difficult because research students come into their degree with widely varying needs and levels of experience. Providing writing assistance within a less structured learning context is an approach which has been trialled in higher education with promising results (Boud, Cohen & Sampson, 2001; Stracke, 2010; Devendish et al., 2009). While semi structured approaches have been the subject of study, little attention has been paid to the processes of informal learning which exist within doctoral education. In this paper we explore a 'writing movement' which has started to be taken up at various locations in Australia through the auspices of social media (Twitter and Facebook). 'Shut up and Write' is a concept first used in the cafe scene in San Francisco, where writers converge at a specific time and place and write together, without showing each other the outcomes, temporarily transforming writing from a solitary practice to a social one. In this paper we compare the experience of facilitating shut up and write sessions in two locations: RMIT University and Queensland University of Technology. The authors describe the set up and functioning of the different groups and report on feedback from regular participants, both physical and virtual. We suggest that informal learning practices can be exploited to assist research students to orientate themselves to the university environment and share vital technical skills, with very minimal input from academic staff. This experience suggests there is untapped potential within these kinds of activities to promote learning within the research degree experience which is sustainable and builds a stronger sense of community

Topics: 120000 BUILT ENVIRONMENT AND DESIGN, 120100 ARCHITECTURE, 130000 EDUCATION, Shut Up and Write, HDR education, Writing groups, Informal Learning, HERN
Year: 2012
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