“…to tell the story of how great a love can be?” says Andy Williams in the beginning of the title song for 1970’s Love Story. I can not say that that was my feeling towards online education when I started my journey back in 2016, however what I realized in the end was nothing like how I assumed it will be.
Back in 2015, I was a research assistant in an Interior Architecture Department in Turkey. Completing my 2nd year, I was more than aware that the basic methods for communicating with students are not working that well. One can take the easy road and say that “This generation do not pay attention to things..”, “They don’t care” etc. However they had a point, our methods for communication via e-mail, the cold bureaucratic statements and leaflets we deliver in the classroom were not suitable tools to make someone interested towards the subject (bear in mind that a particular part of these students had been through a period of intensive training and competition against others and had chosen this department because of prospective financial gain). Tired students, frustrated educators and administrators and crushed research assistants, that was the picture.
During this time, I came across Tony Bates’ blog. Tony Bates is a psychology graduate that made his PhD in Education and since 2003 he is giving consultancy to institutes around the world on distance-online education. Through his website I stumbled upon Linda Harasim’s book titled: Learning Theory and Online Technologies. I read it throughout Summer 2015, and surprised by the amount of institutes that apply “New Online Learning” that is Online Collaborative Learning according to Harasim’s model. One of these institutes was the University of British Columbia (UBC).
At the end of summer, I made up my mind to apply for their Master of Technology Program (MET). At that time (and still) UBC offers two programs under MET: Master of Educational Technology Degree and Graduate Certificates in Technology-Based Learning. I chose Masters Program because I assumed that Educational Technology will be an integral part of any educational system and a masters degree will offer me a more comprehensive outlook from pedagogy to technology.
I remember searching for sample Letter of Intents and hastily putting together my resume and collecting my credentials. The application system had 2 steps, first you have to submit all your documents online. I remember being surprised when I see that my recommendation letters should be written by my professors separately in the system that they will login with their academic (or professional) e-mails.
Second step starts after you got admitted for application. In that stage, most of the documents that you’ve already submitted digitally should be sent by paper as well. This costed a considerable sum of money for me at the time, since I used a fast courier system. After that, you will get in contact with the department secretary and be given the password and username to get into the student service center. Through here, I chose my courses first and then paid the fee. At the time I started it was payment-by-course. MET recommends taking 4 core courses (ETEC 500, ETEC 510, ETEC 511 and ETEC 512) before any other courses. I basically followed their recommendations and took ETEC 511 and ETEC 512 for my first term.
In my previous post, I mentioned about ETEC 510: Design of Technology-Supported Learning Environments, and said that will be by next post. Well, I changed tactics. As I went through my documents today I decided to start with the first course that I took and arrive at 2019 September to the last project I completed. This blog itself might also be seen as an artifact of another course ETEC590 but still lets see what will happen.
As of today, April 2020, I’m waiting for the conferral of my graduation. Due to the virus crisis, the graduation office warned me that there might be delays. I will update you as I’ll get more news.