• 25Jan
    Author: Katherine Pisana Categories: Education, Technology Comments Off on The student becomes the teacher

    So it’s been a while. I have to admit that ulterior motives have propelled me back into the blogosphere. I’m returning to VS not because I’ve been particularly moved by an ed tech article or because I’ve come across a funky new technology I wanted to show you.  To be quite honest, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my short stint away from anything and everything related to online learning. You see…

    I finished my Masters in Online and Distance Education in December ’09, and from the moment I submitted my final piece of work, there was a part of me that knew I needed to take some time to recover. Perhaps that’s a common response felt by many a grad student, but the way in which I’ve been repelled from all things technology (even my shiny new iPhone at a certain point, or the untouched iPod shuffle that’s been sitting on my desk in its original box for over a month now) was quite surprising to me. After all, one thing I’ve learned about myself throughout this process has been that I have a natural tendency to seek out new technologies, determine in what ways they work within an educational context, experiment with new applications, and join emerging groups excited to share their common interests in the field.

    Maybe it was a case of me just overdosing on technology, but funnily enough, I didn’t suffer from the often paired imbalance of information overload. In fact, I’ve been deliriously delighted diving into books – the real PAPER kind! – ever since I officially parted ways with my student self and reentered into the adult world. I’ve even succumbed to redecorating my workspace in an effort to reflect my internal desire to reconnect with the less virtual literary world with which I think I might remember briefly engaging back in high school for a day or two.

    I’ve unapologetically started piling books onto my revamped workspace – not elearning books, not research books, not even learning and teaching books – but the kind of books that you want to fall asleep reading at night and reopen in the morning as you take your first sip of steaming caffeinated goodness. My home office is now adorned with candles propped up on rounded glass plates, next to a crystal hourglass that’s been sitting in its original gift box somewhere in the back of my closet for long enough that I can’t remember when I got it in the first place. The coffee mugs are still there (for what an empty cerebral world it would be without them!) but no more do I have to burrow myself in piles of file folders stuffed with printouts of assessment criteria for upcoming assignments.

    So back to those ulterior motives. They relate to this adult world I speak of, so often associated with mountainous career paths to climb and saturated weekly calendars to survive. It’s time to enter into the working world again, and for many of us instructional designers, our blogs are our calling cards – even more important in many ways then our CVs. So, I welcome this New Year, albeit slightly late, with this first post of twenty ten. Getting back in the game as it were… But now that I think of it, perhaps I did read something recently that’s sparked this train of thought…

    I received a mailing a few days ago from my Alma Mater inviting me to join its graduate association. The group’s slogan is “In my end is my beginning” – a sentiment that so brilliantly encompasses my current state. I suppose you could say that I feel accomplished, but coupled with a presumably organic sense of achievement is this bittersweet taste of being back at square one again, and no matter how many coffees I gulp down, the bitter taste doesn’t seem to be going away. Maybe it’s got something to do with the unemployment rate or with the economy, or with the general uncertainty of the times.

    In any case, regardless of my recent momentary shun of all things technology or of my desire to temporarily disengage from the virtuality of so many of the worlds we live in these days, I have continued to do one very important thing through this whole process. I’ve been determined to remember that many of my experiences as a student in the world of educational technology are most probably also experiences that other online students have shared. And now I find myself holding these thick tomes of lessons learned and knowledge gained close to me as I begin to look around for a new place to put them down so that I can share them with others.

    I think that in the end, the most cherished lesson I take away with me from graduate school is of how important it is to be as observant, tolerant and open minded as we can be when we are students because that is the best way to ensure that we are heard when it is our time to teach.