Saturday, April 28, 2012

My Best Learning Experience

This is my second writing assignment for the doctoral program I am starting in a couple of weeks.

I would like to preface this essay with this observation:  there are positive learning experiences and positive “being taught” experiences.  I have been blessed with many wonderful teachers over my undergraduate years and two graduate programs.  Those were positive “being taught” experiences.  Sometimes, our learning experiences do not involve an actual teacher or facilitator.  My best learning experience falls into that category.
            In the mid-1990s I began working in the technical college system.  When I began my career there, I had minimal knowledge of computer technology, and that only because I could type.  This was the time of transition to Windows products and also the beginning of the Internet really becoming a part of everyday life; it was also the beginning of online courses.  Employees in the technical college system were required to use as much informational and instructional technology as was available to them.  Unfortunately, however, that did not mean that we received adequate training on those products.  Most of what I learned, I taught myself, and that convinced me that sometimes being thrown in and teaching yourself is the best way to learn.Soon I was using Publisher, FrontPage, Blackboard, PowerPoint, Word, and Excel.  When the technical college system began its big push to offer online courses, I jumped on board, creating five courses in, of all things, FrontPage, this being the days before the abundance of learning management systems.
            It was a positive learning experience in that I was given the resources I needed.  I was even given a laptop to take home, although our Internet Service Provider was not very good since those were the days of dial-up.  We had access to all kinds of products for spreadsheets, presentations, desktop publishing, and creating online courses.  Secondly, it was positive in that I had the liberty to explore and play with the products but at the same time an expectation was put upon me that I would learn and use them.  Freedom and accountability proved to me to be essential for learning.
            Third, of course, I was motivated.  Here was my chance to learn about all these products and learn to be intuitive about them.  In case I lost my teaching job I could do something else, now that I was up to speed with computer technology.  I recognized teaching online as the “next big thing” and wanted to take advantage of it professionally.  However, I was also motivated because it was fun.  I had an opportunity to use creative skills I didn’t know I had before that. 
I am thankful for my years in the tech system because I didn’t just learn how to use the various products, many of which are no longer available, but I gained great confidence in my ability to handle software products and lost all my reticence about technology.When I came to my current job I became known as a person to go to for technology help, thanks to my positive learning experience. 

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