Today begins my life with a master’s degree. It has been a long time coming, and I learned so much in the past three years. The best of what I learned, though, had nothing to do with what I had intended to learn.
I started this journey in September 2009, planning to get a certificate in instructional technology, so that I could develop eLearning courses using a variety of development tools. I had enjoyed my amateur efforts in this along the way and had hoped to become proficient enough at it to do some freelance work. I was disappointed in the content of the instructional technology courses. I found them shallow, uninspiring and insufficient preparation to independent work. I signed up for courses on Lynda.com and learned much more about designing eLearning and use of development tools there. Still, there was something very satisfying about being a part of a community of learners that made the experience worthwhile. I found, to my amazement, that the courses where I developed the strongest sense of community were the asynchronous online courses. The opportunity to acquire new knowledge, reflect on how it made sense in my own context, and then share my thoughts with others was much more satisfying than the more superficial conversations that happened in my face-to-face classes.
Then I took the course that launched this blog and a myriad of new concepts opened up for me. Workplace learning can – and will – change as a result of the availability of technology and the rapid rate of change in knowledge and information. The idea of “power to the learners” appeals to my aging hippie sensibilities. The idea of harnessing technology to enable elegant melding of work and learning appeals to my inner geek. And the thought of making the question, “what are you learning?” become more common than “what are you doing?” will, I hope, become my mantra in the next phase of my career.
Good bye, graduate school. Hello, personal learning network.