It hardly feels real, even as I type it. I’m going back to school. No, I’m not grabbing my backpack and leaving DTLT. In fact it’s because of UMW that I’m able to do this. I’ll be taking one class each semester in the Instructional Design and Development program at George Mason paid for by my employer with the goal of having my masters in a few years. I’m not in a hurry, but this is something I’ve wanted so badly to do for so many years that it’s hard to describe how excited I am right now.
Awhile back I wrote about VSTE jumpstarting my career goal of being in educational technology. During that first conference I attended a session put on by the Virginia Tech Instructional Technology Master of Arts program. At the time I had mistakenly signed on to an Information Technology masters program and hated it (the business IT world is not for me) so the possibility of transferring into a program that focused on instruction was appealing. They offered a completely online degree, which was important since I was currently working full-time in Farmville, Virginia (which isn’t exactly close to much of anything). Unfortunately the ITMA program turned out to be a complete dud as well. I should have seen the writing on the wall when they advertised the ability to offer every class, every semester, completely online. It was a turn and burn program funneled through Blackboard with inexperienced and disengaged TAs pushing things along. It was rare that any of the required readings or tasks had anything relevant to the last decade of technological advances shaping education. Combined with Longwood dropping support for external professional development and certification opportunities I had to give it up.
After I came to work at UMW the thought of getting my masters surfaced again. One of the great perks of working here is that after you’ve been employed one year Mary Washington will cover the cost of up to 12 credits each year. I knew I didn’t want to repeat the same problem of finding something completely online that could very well turn out to be the same poor experience as the VT program. After searching for a bit I decided that the George Mason program would be a good fit. It wasn’t too far away. It was a hybrid program with a few face to face courses as well as a good part of it happening online. And it was a very relevant degree to the work I’m doing right now. It’s also a great time for me to be reflecting on this work as I continually push to innovate at UMW. I’ve already started collecting research on the work we’re doing in our Makerspace with the help of Mary Kayler and what better way to continue to write about that work than as a part of a possible thesis? It’s certainly an option and one I’ll explore.
Most of all I’m excited about being a student again. I can’t say I did a lot of reflecting during my undergraduate years but I learn every day and regularly write here about the avenues I’m exploring. With my position at DTLT and the great work I get to do every day it’s the perfect storm of opportunity for me to build a foundation on that with some good old fashioned academic rigor. Of course I’m planning on blogging the experience and the work I do here every step of the way. You’re all a part of this journey with me, no getting away from that. I can’t wait to see how the work of Domain of One’s Own, DS106, Makerspaces, and Media Servers all informs the various things I have yet to learn. It’s going to be a fun ride and I’m ready for it.