Just over a month has passed since I began my studies at RRU in hopes of becoming an instructional designer. As I look back, after leaving residency, I can’t ignore the fact that I have changed in many ways. I have gained new perspectives on the ways in which I learn and discovered how others acquire knowledge in respect to their beliefs. I have developed a greater understanding of learning theories and synthesized how those theories may be applied in my classroom. Before attending RRU, I have never formally learned about epistemologies or even used the word in a sentence for that matter. I’ve acquired so much knowledge in such a short amount of time that it gives me confidence about what’s ahead. Overall, my learning experience was invaluable during my two week residency at Royal Roads University. However, it is the intangibles that I took away from my RRU experience that have transformed me and developed me into a better student, teacher and person.
Good stress. Bad stress.
Before arriving at RRU, I have never travelled to the West coast of Canada. It was my first time travelling without my family and leaving them behind. It was also the first time I had lived on campus in a dorm room. I have always lived in housing while away at school—usually with friends that I have grown up with—which made it easier to adjust. Leading up to my travels, I was unaware of what to expect at RRU. I had mixed emotions and felt excited, nervous, eager, scared, anxious, grateful and overwhelmed… but overall, I had a feeling of being out-of-place. How would I survive two weeks away from my family and concentrate without them? Will my classmates get along with me and visa versa? How much work will we be given and what would my instructors expect/think of me? I had so many unanswered questions swirling in my mind during my 5 hour flight that I was feeling nauseous with doubt about what I was about to embark on over the next two years.
Over time—about a week—I managed to settle in at RRU. I met and worked with some great people who helped me as I learned the concepts within our LRNT 501 and LRNT 502 courses. The community building sessions really helped me adjust to life on campus. It allowed me to let my guard down and communicate with others to build relationships that I would value for the rest of my academic career and lifetime. The support I gained from my group members and faculty allowed me to return home from RRU and offer the same support and guidance to my students and peers at work.
I began to take everything one step at a time and focus on breaking things down into manageable milestones so that I wouldn’t become overwhelmed.”
When I felt unsure of my capabilities, my classmates encouraged me and my instructors motivated me to do better and improve. I still remember being disconnected and feeling guilty for being away from my daughter as I got off the phone with her one evening while she cried, “Daddy, come home… I miss you” (Nawal, 2015). As I walked back to my group meeting with tears in my eyes, Sarah (2015) turned to me and said, “You’re doing a good thing, Mark.” I quickly remembered why I was there. Achieving my Masters in Education has always been a personal goal of mine but this personal goal is now shared with my family who encouraged me to take on this new challenge and experience the journey. I began to take everything one step at a time and focus on breaking things down into manageable milestones so that I wouldn’t become overwhelmed.
Learning and growing.
The group debate was one of the experiences that I enjoyed the most. Not because my group was awarded as the victors of the debate but because it made me work within a group dynamic that allowed me to learn from other’s and gain an experience that I can now call my own. We were visited by Tony Bates, who we read and learned a lot from his book, ‘Teaching in a digital age.’ His presentation was very insightful and helped me grasp a better understanding of learning theories. Our discussion on connectivism by Downes and Siemens (2004) brought upon new perspectives on how we use technology to seek knowledge in our digital world. Discovering the differences between xMOOC’s and cMOOC’s were interesting to discuss as this is one of the paths that I see myself instructing within in the near future. The debate is still open on if connectivism is an epistemology or a learning theory. 😉 Overall, The guest speakers during the course were great; offering valuable feedback and insights on anything from learning theories and open-source texts to graphic recording and thesis research.
Upon returning home, there have been many things that I have reflected about. I’ve reflected about what I have learned, how I learned and what this whole experience will mean to me two years from now. The end of it all seems so far away but in reality, I know it’s closer than I think. Achieving this goal will take sacrifices, compromise and experiencing difficulties along the way but I know it will be worth it in the end and I am aware that I will continue to have help and support from my family, friends, faculty and classmates.
Bates, A. W. (2015). Teaching in a Digital Age. BC Campus. Retrieved from http://opentextbc.ca/teachinginadigitalage/
Siemens, G. (2004). A learning theory for the digital age. Retrieved from http://www.elearnspace.org/articles/connectivism.htm