Which Road Are You On?
I am an ambassador for life-long learning by pursuing a Ph.D. in Education at Walden University. As I strive to be a role model to my children and to those in my sphere of influence, I adamantly believe that blended education is a responsibility for academic professionals. We are curators of curiosity and earners of educational wealth. My Ph.D. path in Learning, Instruction, & Innovation is the embodiment of my passions and shall solidify my personal and career goals.
By necessity, human beings depend on one another. John Donne wrote that “no man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main.” It is as true in 1664 as it is today in 2017 that we need to work together to accomplish great things. A Ph.D. is not just doing independent research, writing papers, literature reviews, and earning good grades. It is also about creating human connections. People who do not experience online learning do not often understand how interactive and human it actually it. Just as in most schools, it is essential to cultivate a network of like-minded individuals in order to excel. Just like a traditional professional degree we need to support one another. For example, the rubric for this foundational course emphasizes the importance of interactive collaboration by weighting the discussions at 60% of the grade. When you have the determination, work ethic, and internal drive in the 21st century you may reach educational achievements utilizing the power of the internet and the logistical luxury which comes with it. However, making these connections virtually does not replace the face-to-face which is why this is a blended program with residential requirements.
As scholar practitioners, we are elastic amorphous segments in a global spider web; we spin a digital brand by how we invest our time. Everything we do in person as well as online becomes our reality. I am building a network in both realms by being present at events, both educational and social, and by nurturing relationships online and in-person. In a 2015 Ted Talk, a cognitive scientist named Donald Hoffman said: “We're inclined to think that perception is like a window on reality as it is. The theory of evolution is telling us that this is an incorrect interpretation of our perceptions. Instead, reality is more like a 3D desktop that's designed to hide the complexity of the real world and guide adaptive behavior. Space as you perceive it is your desktop. Physical objects are just the icons in that desktop.” (Hoffman, 2015) I inferred from his presentation that reality itself has changed due to the digital world so humans must adapt and utilize technology to survive.
My path to earn a PhD in Learning, Instruction, & Innovation is complex. I am of the same mindset of Kent William Thompson who is interviewed in the video from Module 6 entitled: Which road are you on? (Laureate Education, 2014) Just like Thompson, I assert that earning a Ph.D. will prepare me “to think and create new knowledge across a broad spectrum.” I am an open-minded troublemaker and a risk taker with a tendency to speak up for others. This specialty area is both general and specialize allowing me to make constructive waves in the way students learn and in how ultimately teachers will teach.
I have many career aspirations:
· Higher Education instruction
· Authoring of books and higher education/K-12 curriculum
· Digital literacy and public advocacy
The educational standardization case study problem which I identified is an inadequate implementation of educational standards by the state. With the proper professional development of educators, and improved communications to all stakeholders, we will be on the same page and then we can get creative in our execution. Even teachers with the best of intentions are at a disadvantage if they ill-informed. We need to clarify goals and methodologies and provide the space, support, and trust in our teachers. In the U.S., we have an untapped educational opportunity to be innovative and engaging.
One specific way I am able to problem solve this top-down educational problem would be within the Department of Education, Office of Communications. I would expand e-learning, outreach, and state-approved standards-based training. Clarity would be a high priority as we produce, support, and monitor stakeholder training. When I combine my decade long career in media, public relations, and advertising with a decade as a K-12 teacher and a Ph.D. in Learning, Instruction, & Innovation, I will have the expertise to be successful in the path of my choosing.
According to Walden University, the Learning, Instruction, and Innovation specialization will prepare me to “translate creativity into innovative learning experiences…. solutions grounded in principles of brain-based learning.” Borrowing the words of Sheryl Sandberg, the COO of Facebook, ultimately, “I want to work on stuff that I think matters.”
I reviewed Looking Ahead to Your Advanced Graduate Degree information on social change, a determining factor in my decision to pursue my Ph.D. here at Walden. I agree with the 2014 Social Change Impact Report, "change is continuous, and it is important." The Information Age is a turning point in history which we must embrace and innovate. Technology is not the enemy of education. The Digital Age provides an unlimited and evolving medium and I want to be part of what makes blended education successful.
Personally, I feel optimistic being part of a community of those who attend Walden University. As stated on the website, "we believe that knowledge is most valuable when put to use for the greater good." I want to make positive changes by helping others, being a trouble maker and I will be fulfilled by the knowledge and experience I obtain. In my life, I encounter those who do not seek out life-long learning opportunities which is not to say that a Ph.D. is the only vehicle for positive social change. For me, it is a personal choice which began at home and developed in the classroom, by successes, and failures.
My path began at home with my family. My parents valued hard work, cultural exposure, and academic success. My father, an immigrant learned English as a third language. He became an attorney and was a twice elected to the legislature serving as an advocate for education. My mom made sure I received a well-rounded education in public school, religious school and participated in extracurricular activities. She supported my identity even when I was rebelling from her. My siblings enhanced my vocabulary and still serve as role models and confidantes. They all taught me that competition is a good thing, that independence is a necessity, and that nothing gets handed to you unless you work hard.
In my teaching practice, I spend my days with teenagers and it is my professional goal to one day widen that footprint to budding educators by completing this Ph.D. There is also a spiritual reason for this difficult undertaking. I assume that Walden doctoral students are here to be “do-gooders” and practice the concept of Tikkun olam, (pronounced tee-KOON oh-LUHM) which in Hebrew literally means world repair. “Tikkun olam has become synonymous with the notion of social action and the pursuit of social justice” (MyJewishLearning.com, 2004) Tikkun olam is the Jewish belief that if you make a positive impact on merely one person, you will change the universe. We have a powerful viral responsibility to use our education for the greater good and this is the road I chose…
· Hoffman, D. (2015, March). Donald Hoffman: Do we see reality as it is? | TED Talk. Retrieved from https://www.ted.com/talks/donald_hoffman_do_we_see_reality_as_it_is
· MyJewishLearning.com: The Personal Gateway to Jewish Education. (8 June 2004). Overview: Tikkun Olam. http://www.myjewishlearning.com
· Sandberg, S. (2013). Lean in: Women, work, and the will to lead (First edition.). New York: Alfred A. Knopf.
· Thompson, Kent W. Laureate Education (2014). Which road are you on? [Video file]
· Walden University. (2014). 2014 Social Change Impact Report. Retrieved from https://www.waldenu.edu/about/social-change/impact-report-2014