Summer of 2013 has turned out to be a great time in terms of both my professional and personal life. Academically, I was able to complete two more classes for my Masters degree in educational technology, Leadership and Education (EDUC 6368) and Managing Computer Applications (EDUC 6404). I was also able to work on a project for the University of Maryland, building an online tutorial course for the engineering software MATLAB. Working on the creation of this course gave me the chance to actually apply the theories and techniques I’ve been studying this past year. It was a lot of work, but a great learning opportunity.
If I had to summarize these two summer classes in one word, it would be “intense”. The summer semester spans only 6 weeks, and in this time there was a lot of material to master. The first course, Leadership and Education, is one of the few required courses that does not focus on computers, educational technology or instructional design, but rather on the nature of power and the skills and qualities required for the educational leader. As a techie, I was a little apprehensive at first because I thought that this course might be a little dry, but I was completely wrong. I really loved this course. Lots of time was spent on reflecting on our own teaching/leadership styles, and comparing it to the theories and models used by major historical educational leaders.
The textbook we used was “ Leadership in Organizations” by Yuki and we also read “On Becoming a Leader” by Bennis. The textbook was good at analyzing all the different components behind leadership theory, but I wouldn’t say that it’s a must read. Bennis’ book however is a must read. “On Becoming a Leader” is one of those rare books that has so much to offer, no matter what profession you are in. It reads really fast, and contains lots of real-life stories that help to explain Bennis’ views on leadership. My one piece of advice is to read it with a highlighter. Trust me, you’ll want to revisit many sections over again. One of my favorite quotes might be:
You should preserve the ability to say, ‘Shove it,’ and go your own way. That really frees you. – Warren Bennis
This quote is important, especially today since the world is in a state of constant change. Leaders can’t afford to sit by, or else they risk being left behind. We need to see change as an opportunity, and we need to have the courage to be our own leader, and not try and fit into a mold or vision of leadership we read in a textbook. We need our own unique vision, and we need to follow it through.
My second course this semester, Managing Computer Applications, was much more similar to previous courses I’ve taken at GWU. The major goal was to address the knowledge and competencies needed to improve the productivity through the effective use of computer technology. The course work was focused around the creation of our own Strategic Management Plan (SMP). I decided to do my SMP on the process of incorporating Google Glass into a High School. The SMP included the following sections: needs assessment, planning, improving overall productivity, practicability, usefulness, budget and strategies for acceptance. Choosing Google Glass was a little risky since it is a brand new piece of technology; it’s not even technically available for purchase, but I wanted to pick something that was cutting edge. Instructional designers and experts in the field of educational software need to be up-to-date with emerging technologies. Studying ID theory is great, but it must also be applied in the real world with modern tools.