Saturday, May 10, 2014

ETMOOC Helped Me Get a Great Job! Really.

My decision to go back to graduate school to pursue an M.Ed was really kind of an experiment. I never got into PhD programs as an English major (a total blessing in hindsight), so I kept researching and thinking about the Education degree that I thought I was going to pursue as an undergraduate. As the job market became more dismal in English, I decided to take advantage of the WA state employee tuition waiver. I just reread my application statement of intent; I can read between the lines and see that I wasn’t sure what I was going to do. Half way through the degree, I thought about walking away. It was too hard to teach full-time and be a part-time graduate student. Thanks to kind words of encouragement from family and friends, I graduated last December. 

I’ve been saying for years that I want to teach teachers. The real question became: How can I teach teachers when a lot of the education programs focus on K-12?  I love working with high school teachers, but I wouldn’t have any credibility with them because my experience is in higher education. I also knew I don’t want to be a high school administrator.  

As I reflect on the last year, every bump and turn in the path of my career lead up to my new job as Director of eLearning and I’m still over the moon that this is my life. I feel so lucky, but then again, I’ve worked really hard.  

So how did ETMOOC help me get a job? Well, when I started to research Instructional Designer positions, I needed a portfolio. I had zero results for digital citizenry aside from bike race results and a certain website for rating your professor. All of my OL work lived inside of an LMS; my work as a teacher left me little time to connect. Teaching four to six composition courses a quarter leaves little time for anything in life. 

Without my ETMOOC experience, I would have been scrambling to substantiate my research interests. Albeit I learned a lot in my graduate program, but many of my assignments were theoretical.  My course in educational technology helped me discover ETMOOC, and the mix of an amazing F2F class with a MOOC blew up my world. I wasn’t anywhere near one of ETMOOC’s most active participants, but I learned a lot. I started this blog, for instance! What a huge step for me both—personally and professionally—so when it came time to put together a portfolio, I actually had one.  

One of my interview questions had to do with my perspective about MOOCs. I almost leapt out of my chair with ideas—all based on my ETMOOC experience. MOOCs are a model for life-long learning and building skills that must live on. I've read a lot about MOOCs being fads and failures, but I’m living proof that this model of learning can work for professional development.

So more than one year later, I can attest that a MOOC helped me get my dream job that, I hope, will be a catalyst for future opportunities.

I see MOOC learning similar to a bike share program (only it's free). You take one bike, ride it to another neighborhood, and leave it for another person. The infrastructure (the bike or the MOOC) supports the creativity (the learning or the riding) and it's communal.  It's up to you to unlock the potential and pedal to new learning.

I'm working on this metaphor, but that's what ETMOOC taught me to do; share your learning. Oh the cheesy places I can go with this idea! Bad ideas are like dropping your chain. Learning is like buying a bike: invest in a good frame and upgrade the parts later. Learning from other people is like riding in pack. Being an innovative teacher is like digging into your suitcase of courage. See? I can go on and on with this one.

I’m getting ready to begin another blog, but I have to conclude this one with a sincere thank you to the organizers of ETMOOC. You helped me a great job. Really. 

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