Twenty-plus years after finishing my undergrad stint at good-ol’ UW Madison, I am returning to school. There wasn’t much in the way of online learning in the early 90’s, but this degree is entirely by the screen, though the school is strategically located in-state a couple hours North. I like the idea of going to visit the bricks and mortar up at NAU: meeting my teachers in-person, maybe surprising them with a hearty knock on their office door – if they have one. I think they do. That’ll be another reason to visit, though there are expressly NO REQUIRED ON-GROUND events as part of this online degree in Educational Technology. No field trips.
I already work as an educational technologist ( my official title is ‘Instructional Technology Coordinator’), and have resisted taking the next step because I have haughtily thought that I should be given the degree honorarily, due to the 14 years of work I’ve already done in the field. My job has been one long experiential education in online learning. This is a nascent area that’s just barely crawled out of the primordial soup, and it’s still morphing before our very eyes. Technology + education = constant change. I’m riding the edge-u-tech daily and I teach a course in it myself, so why should I go to school for it?
When I finished college in 1993 I was so done. I never wanted to do that again. I enjoyed much of it, but I was ready to do something else, and I felt a little jaded, like, “what the hell just happened?”; jettisoned out of the Red Beast and onto the lonely waters of life without a clue what to do next. I didn’t get a lot of career counseling and I was ready to lock myself in a painting studio and go at it, all the while wondering if those five years up in the tower of learning amounted to anything.
I feel a little differently now, though I still have resistance – I did wait until age 45 to go back to school. A degree, also known as “the piece of paper”, helps get jobs, but the job and the education are truly different things. I might have accomplished much of the same thing in my career whether I went to school or not. As time passes, however, I see how my time at the U. fed my mind and strengthened my perseverance. I wonder if I could do the same amount of work now? We will soon see. Grad School begins in (countdown) 6 days.