M.A. in Curriculum and Instruction, 2012
Director of Online Learning, UT San Antonio
San Antonio, Texas
Program Area: Learning Technologies
I had built online learning applications and designed courses, but after I enrolled in the Learning Technologies program, I quickly realized that I had no clue what I’d been doing. I’m not sure I know even now, but what the program offered was a rigor and a methodology with which to critically evaluate my own work and the work of others. Years later, I finally understand that the more I learn about learning, the more I need to learn. And yet, every day I am able to apply what I learned in the program to solve real problems. Being able to cite the empirical evidence that supports those solutions is persuasive to the faculty members I work with on a daily basis.
It sounds strange, but even after a day at work, I would rush to campus, not only to find a parking spot, but also to talk with my classmates and find out where I should have explored the week’s assignment more deeply, to learn from them and from our collaborative projects as much as I learned from our instructors. And how would I describe the faculty members in the Learning Technologies program? Demanding. Encouraging. Scary smart. I can’t list all their names and attributes because I’d no doubt skip an important trait, but if I had to choose one word to summarize my interactions it would be exhilarating. I’m not kidding. What could be more gratifying than helping build an immersive game and then watching students get excited about temperature conversion tables? What could be more motivating than learning to use Twitter for professional development and then attending a national conference where a leading scholar recommended…using Twitter for professional development.
The program is not for the faint of heart. A dozen research articles to read and summarize each week? That was the norm. Building and testing designs? Real situations were integral to every course. And these weren’t artificial assignments: some became published articles, others won awards, and at least one project galvanized a local company to create an instructional design department.
Advice for Students
If you want to build authentic projects, informed by theory and tested by use, the Learning Technologies program might be right for you. If you want to learn to think about learning in new ways, from new perspectives, using new techniques and tools that aren’t (yet) mainstream, the Learning Technologies program might be your home. But make sure you’re prepared to live and breathe the excitement of learning about learning—and get ready to have a blast. I know I did.