Summer 2006 (Beginning of the program):
I have begun! I didn't think about it at the time, but as a 23-year veteran, it appears I'm one of the oldest in the MSET program. Since I've always been excited about and have used technology the vast majority of my career, I had not really considered that I'd be "an old lady." I hope I can do this and have the stamina it will take to finish in two years.The first two classes were taught on-site in Watertown, which is a relief because then I didn't have to travel or stay down in Madison and try to keep things going with my family. I really appreciate the DSU faculty being willing to do this. The courses were Multimedia Production and Computer Hardware and Networking Essentials. I learned a lot in both and had fun too. It was a great way to start my MSET experience. In fact, I implemented some of Tom Farrell's quizzing and grouping techniques in my own classroom. Deb's course in the fall, "Introduction to Adult Learning" was really my first experience with total online learning and WebCT. I appreciated how well-organized and planned the class was. She pretty much set the standard for me as an online student. I wasn't sure what I would think of online courses, but so far, I love the flexibility.
Summer 2007 (Middle of the program):
I find myself at the mid-point in my program. A couple courses have been very challenging for me, especially Research Methods in Educational Technology. I've always heard that this one is a tough one from everyone who has ever worked on their Master's and I found it to be true, as well. By this point in the program a group of us in the co-hort have formed a study and support group. It has really been helpful. I noticed, based on the discussion boards in various classes, that others have formed groups too. This summer I took 9 credits and it really kept me on the go. During this summer, I experienced course work and instructors from USD. What a difference! It was very clear to me that the instructors at USD have not bought into online instruction the way DSU instructors have. It was very obvious that the USD instructors were very uncomfortable with the process.
Summer 2008 (End of the program):
The end is definitely in sight! It doesn't seem possible, but I have been able to maintain the pace. Over all the instructors have been excellent, especially those at DSU. Could it be that I'm biased towards my alma mater? I found most of them to be very flexible and understanding of adult learners who have lives, careers, family, and other obligations. My family has also been very understanding and supportive. I think they are counting down to graduation! Even though this is the end of the program, I know that because technology continues to evolve and change, I will never stop learning and growing either. As I continue to learn more about technology and learning, I will endeavor to monitor and adapt my instruction to meet the needs of my students in order to "enable all students to succeed in an ever-changing world."
Positives of the MSET Program:
--The flexibility and understanding of adult learners who have lives, careers, family, and other obligations is vital to the success of the program.
--I found that I like online learning and not having to travel. I started out concerned that I wouldn't be able to connect with the instructors or other members of the class because of the distance, but as I got used to online learning, I found that those connections can and do happen.
--I was required to focus on completing the program in 2 years, not dribble away at it over a long period of time. It would have been easy to decide I was too busy and take a semester off, but this way I'm finished!
--The cohort allowed me to connect to people in my area that I did not know well and make some new friends.
--The time to re-evaluate my beliefs about learning and the opportunity to further develop and apply my knowledge directly in my classroom with my students made the learning meaningful.
Areas of Concern:
--More emphasis is needed on technology integration in the curriculum rather than network administration or adult learning. The Social Studies and Language Arts in a Mobile Computing Environment courses were very helpful, but others seems to repeat themselves about learning theories.
--I believe that more hands-on orientation is needed at the beginning of the program, especially for adults who are not as familiar with online learning.
--I'm not totally convinced that the USD instructors really "buy into" online learning. At times their communication felt hostile and as a DSU student, I did not always feel the USD instructors had time for me.
--Email communication should be re-evaluated. Because I'm an off campus online learner, I do not need messages about lost keys and snow removal issues that are occuring on campus. These don't make me feel involved. They just get in the way of the Important messages I need to read. A separate distribution list should be created.
I am so glad that I took advantage of the opportunity to get a Master's Degree in Educational Technology. I would not have received a Master's in any other way because of the needs of my family. Technology integration is very important to me and an area of strong interest, so I know it will be a never-ending learning process. Great job, DSU!!