Is there a Doctor in the House?

I’m beginning to feel like Dorothy, in the Wizard of Oz … lost in a strange world; tired and hungry (it’s tough to eat well living in rez).  I guess the funnel clouds before summer session began was a little foreshadowing of what I was in for.  Disoriented and disconnected, craving more meaningful face-to-face contact to develop personal relationships with my classmates (as Dorothy had the opportunity to do with Tinman, Scarecrow and Lion as they stumbled along together trying to follow the yellow brick road).  Unfortunately, I feel as though too many of my classmates are more like the Wizard of Oz behind the veiled curtain of their computer screens. 

I find it ironic that we were brought together on campus, but most of my time is spent in front of a computer during class and in my dorm room reading or on my laptop researching and writing trying to keep up on all the coursework .  While I agree with Dr. Jacobsen we are developing an on-line community with our Blackboard posts and blogs, I can’t help but feel at the expense of what and wonder isn’t there a better compromise?  We’ll be doing that when we are back in our home towns doing our on-line courses so should so much of my time be devoted to it now? 

While I enjoy reading people’s posts on Blackboard and checking out your blogs, I honestly do not have a face for all the names yet and there is a disconnect for me between our class time and our screen time.  At the BBQ today I was struck by the fact that when a classmate joined our table and sat by the person who has been accross from her in the computer lab the past 3 afternoons, she did not know her name.  Honestly if I had 16 pictures and our 16 names I would be able to match 8-10.  How about you?  That makes it difficult for me to connect what you share live in class to what you post on-line.  Should my time here be monopolized by so much screen time?  I would like the opportunity to get to know you all more on a personal level since we are such a diverse group with unique strengths.  Even the wizard of oz eventually came out from behind the veiled curtain!

Craving contact … maybe I should have brought a dog or packed a pair of glittery red shoes.

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When does a doctoral student sleep during summer session?!? I knew the two weeks would be intense and would test my time management skills, but I’m beginning to realize I need to pace myself or I will run out of steam before the end of this 2 week triathlon.

So what have I been up to in the last 24 hours?’

6am– up, out of the shower and on-line for a quick FB status update to let my friends and family know what I’m up to while eating breakfast.

6:15 Researching the group project topics and settle on my top 2 picks: grassroots video and mobile learning

7am Reading / skimming the 2009 Horizon Report (must go back a reread some sections at a later date- good stuff!)

8am– packed up and left my lovely dorm room to get lost once again on campus. Luckily I was able to follow the trail of people with Tim’s cups to fill up on caffeine and arrived at the library with time to load up my student ID with $ for printing and to text a morning message to my daughter.

9am– learning / playing with Blackboard and Elluminate in class

lunch– printing, eating and reading Dr. Kopp’s article on Virtual Patients in Second Life before she presents in my afternoon class.

1pm brain bursting in the afternoon class … thinking about a lot of things in new/different ways, joining a group for the ed tech trend wiki / presentation project  Just a thought, but for me I think it would have been better to have my heavy content course in the morning and the Doctorial Orientation class in the afternoon.  What do my fellow ed techie docs think?

4pm getting to know my group members and dividing up some of the group work based on individual strengths and interests

5pm back to my dorm room to freshen up and text a few friends before working on one aspect of the wiki over dinner with a classmate.

6pm getting lost driving to the restaurant but eventually getting there with my classmate’s help … hum, this getting lost thing is starting to become a theme…

8pm back in my room reading about grassroots video to complete what I committed to do before our next group meeting tomorrow at 8:15 am as well as following up on some of the ideas discussed over dinner, emailing group members

9pm reading and responding to classmates posts on Blackboard, writing a blog post and skimming some of my classmates blogs.

10pm tackling today’s reading list: 3 chapters of Creswell and 2 chapters of J&M, a mere 130 pages,

11pm taking a break from reading: accepting a classmate’s invitation to join our grassroots video wiki and adding to it, joining Second Life and creating an avitar (Belle Calcutt)

11:30 back to tackling that reading list

3:30am reading a classmate’s response to one of my earlier e-mails and realizing it was time to unplug- the laptop and the lamp!

3:35 sleeping

6am up again and logging on, reading some more e-mails from classmates who got up before me, blogging and eating breakfast.

7:15 hitting the shower in order to make it to my 8:15 group meeting on time…after getting some Tim’s of course!

So how about a coffee kiosk instead of that water cooler?!?!

I must confess I am not a gamer.  The last video game I played was probably “Where in the World is Carmen Sandeigo?” back in the late 80’s!  Needless to say, I have never experienced Second Life.  Dr. Kropp’s presentation on Virtual Patients in Second Life was very thought provoking for me and surprised me by connecting to a passion of mind- providing more equitable access to learning experiences through the effective use of technology.  While practica in real environments provide many benefits, there is the uncontrollable variable of what patients come to one student’s placement versus the placements of fellow classmates.  By including Virtual Patients, a certain breadth of experience can by provided for all learners.

When I think back to how I have ended up here it’s been a winding journey that began when I was in junior high.  I still remember vividly the first computer lab was I was ever in- a room full of Commodore 64s.  It was the fall of 1984.  My grade 7 homeroom teacher had spent the summer training to be the ‘Computer Specialist’ at our school so we were the first students to pilot the new Computer program.  Mr. Cheverie was enthusiastic and that enthusiasm was quite infectious.  He certainly introduced me to computer technology in a very non-threatening way.  I  feel that this first introduction has had a huge impact on my current perceptions and attitudes towards educational technology.  That and the fact that by the time I began high school my parents had purchased a home computer for my brothers and I to share.  It was a Tandy my dad had the local Radio Shack store bring in.  Anybody remember those?  Being in a pilot class with many ‘hiccups’ and later being the oldest child in a family with a new computer, I quickly gained the confidence to figure out on my own what I wanted the computer to do for me.  This confidence has evolved into an ease with educational technology.

I was fortunate to be working towards a BEd at Acadia University when they implemented the Acadia Advantage program in the mid 90’s.  This was a pivotal moment in my life as I was able to see the ‘advantages’ for me as a learner but also begin to think about the impact it could have on the teacher I was becoming and my ability to better meet the needs of all learners that would be in my classroom.  Once out in the real world of teaching in techno-barren schools, I got caught up in the day-to-day minutia of teaching but eventually was drawn back to technology.  I knew I needed to learn to better use the technology I did have access to.  I completed a MEd in Curriculum Studies with a focus in Learning & Technology through Acadia University’s on-line program.  As I was working towards this degree, teaching students with special needs and mothering at the same time, I kept thinking about how attending classes on campus on a regular basis would have been an insurmountable barrier for me.  This has led me to a keen interest in how educational technology can remove or reduce barriers to learning and to support people in reaching their full potential.  To explore this further I attended Harvard’s summer institute on Universal Design for Learning.  This experience solidified for me that I needed to continue my formal learning regarding educational technology so I began hunting for a program that would fit my needs.

I was so excited when I found out about U of C’s on-line EdD program and that it had an Educational Technology strand, even more excited when I found out I had been accepted into the program.  While I remain excited, I am filled with a nervous energy as the question “What have I signed up for?” swirls in my head.

It’s is finally starting to feel real now that I’m on campus, have finished my first day of classes and dropped $400 at the bookstore … I really am about to tackle doctoral studies!!!  Many of us mentioned a ‘nervous anticipation’ regarding this journey we have just begun so I would like to welcome you all by sharing a poem that inspires me.  It was written by Walter Borden, a Nova Scotian poet and playwright.


Walk On

You must know that you are part of your creator,
And hold within you power to create.
Don’t be afraid to fall
Attempting mankind’s scale,
Perhaps you’re not a singer
You are a song!
You are a note of ringing splendour
In the universal anthem,
Know your sound
Know your sound

You have a life of many pages
To expand the book of ages,
Take a pen, take some ink,
And set it down.
Be sentence, not word,
Be of self, and not of herd,
It is your right,
You have the choice
To be your spokesman,
With your voice.

Now step outside your cage
And touch tomorrow.em>

Best of luck clarifying a research interest and getting to ‘know your sound’. May we never be caged by fear of the challenges that lay ahead as we dive deep and resurface during our doctoral studies.

Belina

December 2017
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