reflection on Buddy Biscuits
As I studied, my dog patiently reflected on cookies. I contemplated removing this photo from my site but my love of dogs is a huge part of who I am, and without my dog I would have not made it through my graduate program.
I've always been inquisitive. I love learning. Some may say I'm addicted to it. The diversity and ease of online learning is perfect for me, and obviously so many other learners. People would ask me why I would want to go back to school, or is it worth spending the money or will you get a better job? For me, none of that mattered. I wanted to get my master's degree so that I could be surrounded by knowledge. I am thrilled that I had the opportunity to share this world of knowledge with my professors and peers, and overjoyed that now I am sharing my perspective with the world.
Lately, I have reflected on my first semester in the program since I am working in a group with some "first semester" peers. I found myself telling them that graduate school is different..."We are learning to think. Make a decision, meet demands of the rubric but don't get caught up in undergrad thinking", and then I realized that saying this is probably useless since they must make the journey themselves. From my first day at Mizzou to my last day I was part of a metamorphosis. In my first semester, I was extremely fortunate to take the Introduction to Research course with a professor who would become one of my favorites, Dr. Adkins. She set the tone for my graduate school experience and I can't thank her enough. I embarked on my master's degree journey with what I would consider a subpar academic background. Dr. Adkins prepared me to succeed in the program. I was exposed to a whole new world called researching, that included a fun quiz to determine my epistemology, obtaining my first IRB certificate, research methods, literature mapping, APA citing, and some serious writing! Dr. Adkins provided consistent, timely, and encouraging feedback. Despite the knowledge void I was working hard to fill, Dr. Adkins gave me confidence in my abilities. This course taught me to think, apply, and create. At this point in my program I had no idea what Bloom's Taxonomy was. Now I understand why the course was so effective. Additionally, my vocabulary was increasing from being surrounded by scholars and I was thrilled. My first course and first professor sent me on my way to a new career and a scholarly way of thinking.
As I continued in the program, I became more and more fascinated with learning technologies and design. I found Dr. Galyen's SISLT portfolio online, it spoke to me, and I was in awe. I thought "I want to be as good as she is". My admiration for her increased when I was enrolled in her Introduction to Digital Media course. Dr. Galyen is a thoughtful, wonderful, talented instructor. The projects I created brought me a great sense of pride and accomplishment. The tools (Adobe Illustrator, PhotoShop, Audition, LumaOne) I learned were immediately used to create freelance portfolio items, as well as assist me in future courses.
A professor who is perfectly suited to teaching and mentoring is Dr. David Reid. I took his Rapid Development Tools class and was impressed by his vigilance, and responsiveness. It was clear that he closely monitored the course and student's needs. The feedback he provided was extraordinary, even providing feedback videos for his student's final projects. I learned to use Adobe Captivate to make an impactful learning experience, complete with interactions and assessments. I continue to use Adobe Captivate. I had the opportunity to take another course of Dr. Reid's this semester and I jumped on it. His courses are definitely challenging but the experience is absolutely fulfilling. This semester I am happily enrolled in Learning Analytics. Dr. Reid observes student's understanding of the subject and provides "just in time" videos when he sees they are struggling. In the first week or two of this course, I thought "Oh dear, what have I done?" I was concerned I wouldn't like it. Dr. Reid is passionate about sharing his knowledge and I was soon engrossed. The course has led me to read at least fifty research studies on learning analytics, and spurred an interest in engagement and facial emotion detection as well as instructor feedback in online learning. My world has expanded once again as I reached out to researchers to obtain their datasets. What an amazing world I've become a part of!
During my early semesters at Mizzou, I became interested in accessibility. I began taking courses outside of Mizzou to learn about it so that I could make my projects accessible to all. I later created a course in Moodle and Canvas, for my two Mizzou courses, on how to makevcourses accessible. Additionally, I became Section 508 certified and am currently working on my Department of Justice Trusted Tester Certification.
On my learning journey, I've encountered a diversity of peers and instructors, and have been mesmerized by what I've learned from each. Every interaction, every time I looked up a vocabulary word, every new software I learned, every friendship, every time life was difficult, every time I would tell someone I was getting my master's degree, when my co-worker began at Mizzou because of MY experience...these all contributed to my wholeness as a master's degree candidate. I am grateful that I have been a part of this program.