The word ‘thesis’ makes me shutter a little bit – I’ll be honest. The idea that I will spend the next 18 months researching, gathering data, writing, and compiling a masters thesis intimidates me to no end. But it’s happening, whether I’m ready or not.
I’ve been very keen to start my thesis ever since I found out I was accepted into the Longwood Graduate Program. I met with many professionals, a lot from Longwood Gardens, with whom I gathered idea’s and insights from; it was an invaluable time! My thesis proposal was due roughly around the end of last semester (Dec 2010), which I turned in before leaving the country for a month and a half. Coming back to that proposal this semester was challenging – as a month and a half seemed to be juuuust enough time to forget the realities of the work that waited upon my return.
The thesis proposal is currently being finalized. Just last week I had my first committee meeting, which I thought went really well, I enjoyed it! My thesis committee includes our program Director and two very qualified professionals that have been wonderful so far! I feel very fortunate for this committee; they’re very supportive and have lots of helpful ideas for me.
Originally I was going to look at interpretive technology tools (mobile apps, audio tours, web applications, etc etc) within public gardens, but during my committee meeting we all decided that I should focus on one particular facet of those technologies. Much to my excitement, we decided on web and online initiatives. Whooo! I have so much to learn about the web and how to best harness it for our institutions; so why not start by finding out what other gardens are currently doing? My ‘hook’, if you will, is going to be looking specifically at the evaluation of web initiatives. Yes, we want to know what organizations are doing – but we want to know what is actually successful. And most importantly, how are they measuring success? Is it conversions? Click throughs? I currently just don’t know. But I’m excited to have the opportunity to find out.
The first steps I’m taking are to finalize my thesis proposal (I’m essentially rewriting the introduction and justification as the topic has changed just enough to warrant this), and then I’m going to begin drafting a survey.
More to come as I make progress. And cross your fingers that this cat doesn’t find me….