Blog, Education

Why I’m Studying Adult Education

If you follow me in other places or know me personally, you probably know that I’m in a Masters program for Adult and Organizational Education at Oregon State University right now. I’m in my second term, and I’m loving the program so far. I had always known that I wanted to go to grad school, but it was a challenge for me to find the right program or even field of study. I’m a “techie” guy, but I didn’t feel like computer science was the right field for me – I’m a mile wide and an inch deep when it comes to programming. I like to dabble a little in everything. People ask me if I’m a developer, and I always say no, because I feel like it would be an insult to the developers I know to say that I was.

But I’ve always loved to learn new things, and teach people how to do cool stuff. It energizes me, and (I’m told) I’m pretty good at it. So I started looking into education-related grad programs. Most of them, as you can imagine, are focused on people who are going to be teachers or professors. I’ve toyed with the idea of being an adjunct professor or something someday, but I like working in the world of software and technology too much to give that up for academia. I’m a practitioner, not a researcher. So my search continued until I found this program at Oregon State.

The program is built around several different educator roles, like instructional systems designer, and the more I thought about it, the more it seemed like it would be a good fit for this weird sort of hybrid career and skill set I have built up. So far, it’s been challenging, fun, and I have learned a ton. I have no fixed idea of what I want to do with this degree when I finish it, but this program is helping me figure that out. When I was little, people would always ask me what I wanted to be when I grew up, and, snarky child that I was (and am), I’d say “it hasn’t been invented yet, but I know it has something to do with computers”. That statement is as true today as it was when I was five.

I’m going to be posting a lot more here about the things that I’m studying and working on. Right now, I have an amazing instructor for our Instructional Technology courses, Jonan Donaldson. He has introduced some amazingly powerful concepts around “constructionism” (building our own knowledge) and how we can use technology to learn and teach. I’m absolutely in love with these ideas and their application in my work and family life (as we explore alternative education methods and homeschool with our kids). Jonan calls this concept “authorship learning“, and he’s definitely on to something. There’s something very powerful about the idea that instead of receiving knowledge from a teacher, or through study, that we create it by making things, sharing them with others, and reflecting on what we’re learning. We’re doing that in Jonan’s class, and I’m experimenting with it with my kids. I can’t wait to get a deeper understanding.

Expect to see posts, artifacts, reflection, and more on the topic as I explore these new concepts and attempt to figure out my mission in life. Wish me luck! :-)

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