A call to action…

March 25, 2008 § 2 Comments

I am writing this post today in response to a call to action from some alumni of my Master’s program.  I hope that those of you looking into online programs will give Pepperdine a look, and those of you who know people looking to get a Master’s Degree will pass this on.

I graduated from Pepperdine University’s Online Master of Arts in Educational Technology in the summer of 2003.   I decided to look into because, at the time, the Master’s programs at other universities I’d looked at consisted of a curriculum degree with maybe one or two technology classes thrown in.

The program at Pepperdine stood out to me for a couple of reasons.  First the superficial ones:

  1. It’s Pepperdine, for God’s sake!
  2. It was online, which meant that I didn’t have to go anywhere.
  3. It was only 13 months, meaning I’d be done sooner, rather than later.
  4. I had to go to California to start the program.

And then what I found when I started:

  1. The group of people you go through the program with become like family.
  2. You own your research because it effects your workplace.
  3. You get to make a change.
  4. You truly come to understand the philosophy behind educational technology.
  5. Your coursework will give you the opportunity to explore with some of the greatest minds in the field.

The Online Master of Arts in Educational Technology (OMET or OMAET as it’s called by students and alumni) changed my entire way of thinking about educational and technology’s role in education.  In this program, you’re challenged in your traditional ways of thinking because you’re not in the program with people just like you.

I was expecting K-12 educators and what I got was a baseball coach, a university registrar, a homeschool advocate, a college tech director, and much, much more.  In addition to all of those job fields, your classmates are from all over the country and world.

Perhaps the best part of OMET is the fact that it’s not entirely online.  Before you even start the program, you go through a week-long, very intense “virtcamp” in Los Angeles, where you meet your cadre and some of your professors face to face.  This face to face meeting, I feel, is the thing that makes this program unique.  Because you meet your classmates and professors, and spend a week of 8 hour days getting to know them, you become invested in the program.  You look forward to the mid-program meeting and reconnecting with those same people face to face again.

You go through every course with this same group of people and their thoughts and ideas influence your research and arguments in ways you never thought possible.  It shapes your practice of what you do and how you do it.  Five years later, I still reflect on every move I make and every new product we try.  I make sure I have my arguments for or against something before I go into a meeting, and I make sure I have evidence to back things up.

Being a graduate of OMET is like being part of a big family.  Even though I may not know every person from every cadre that came before or after Bu5Alive, we all have a special bond.

Now we are hearing that OMET enrollment is dropping and that there may not be a cadre 11.  I can only hope that in the sea of copycats that have come along, people will take a hard look at Pepperdine when considering a Master’s program, and especially an online one.

There are several online programs to choose from, but in my opinion, Pepperdine offers one of the premier online Master’s programs out there.  Please check it out.  I think you’ll be surprised by what you learn and how fun this program is.

Inspiration

March 14, 2008 § 1 Comment

I’ve been doing a lot of reading lately, and not a lot of writing. Part of that is because I’ve been busy at work, but part of it is because I’ve felt like anything I was going to write was going to be a complaint and negative, and I’m really trying not to do that, and not get into any of the negative stuff that’s going on at work (at least not in this very public forum).

Today, I read something that inspired me to write about my own learning experience. Doug wrote about learning to fall :

I believe that teachers should try to learn something that’s hard, every once in a while. And maybe even scary. It gives us some appreciation for what many students have to routinely deal with. But, of course, it should also be something that you really want to do, or why would you bother? And how often do students get to make that choice?

I think he’s right, which is why I decided last fall that I wanted to learn to play the guitar. It’s really been a learning experience for me because I’m not learning musically, which is how I’m trained, instead, I’ve been learning by ear and learning to play chords.

Over the past couple of months I’ve toughened up my fingers so it no longer hurts when I press down on the strings, and now I’m working on my timing, switching between chords. I’m learning on my own, without the help of an instructor, but at some point, I may want to do that as I get more into the advanced techniques.

But that’s the thing about being an adult, isn’t it? We get to pick what we want to do. We tell our students what they need to do, what they need to learn, and how they need to learn it. At what point do we trust them enough to let them choose their own path?  I don’t think a junior high student necessarily needs to be given a wide range of classes to take, but giving them open ended options for completing a project sure is a good place to start.

There are always going to be students who need step by step instructions on what to do and how to do it, but just as we modify for special ed students, we should be modifying for those students who are more independent thinkers as well.

Maybe our school system is too ingrained in the corporate approach of “we’ll tell you what to do and when to do it, and you all just be good little sheep and follow along.”

Holy cow…am I becoming a radical?

Where Am I?

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