RRU Welcome

Reflection Eternal: Looking Back and Ahead of LRNT 501

RRU Welcome
RRU Welcome – Photo credit: Mark-Anthony Karam (2015)

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.

Google images (2014)
Google images (2014)

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.”

Royal Roads Gardens
Royal Roads Japanese Gardens – Photo credit: Mark-Anthony Karam (2015)

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.

Photo credit: Mark-Anthony Karam (2015)
Photo credit: Mark-Anthony Karam (2015)

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.

Going home.

50 Cent Drive Off Gif
50 Cent Drive Off Gif

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.

Photo credit: RRU (2015)
Photo credit: RRU (2015)

 RRU Gallery


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

3 thoughts on “Reflection Eternal: Looking Back and Ahead of LRNT 501”

  1. Mark, this is a fantastic post and captures so many of my own feelings of the journey so far. I was so anxious that last weekend before heading to residency. I had no clue what to expect from the campus and my own experience living in a dorm was less than desirable so that alone was frightening. Meeting everyone for the first time made me nervous and then we quickly formed bonds and build a support network that made residency unforgettable. I agree that the debate was an amazing experience. The way that everything clicked when that first timer began, was so neat and working together to form the rebuttal and closing arguments was such a crazy collaboration.

    I am touched that you held onto to that comment I made because I am always hoping that you (and all the parents in our cohort) understand how valuable what you are doing is for your kids. My mom went back to school when I was in 6 and my brother was 8. She worked part-time and went to school part-time, working towards her Bachelor of Education. I remember hearing the electric typewriter clicking away as I fell asleep, I remember late nights and early mornings and there were times she missed a few baseball games or field trips (but not very many). She still took us to piano before school (unfortunately) and made all my halloween costumes. My dad would take us to visit her while she worked Friday nights at Safeway and she would come see us at her break when we were at nana and grandpa’s because the Safeway was behind their house. My brother and I got to go with her to UBC and swim at the pool with the BIG diving boards while she had group meetings or needed to study, we loved it! She used me as her guinea pig when she had lesson plans to create and videos to make and I loved that too. Finally, when I was in grade 6, I got to skip school for the day, buy a new outfit and attend my mom’s graduation at UBC’s War Memorial Gym. I am tearing up writing this because I remember it like yesterday and I’m still so proud. My parents found a way to do it all during those years and I even though I may have missed my mom at times, I never missed out. She was my biggest cheerleader and is still is and when I have moments that I think I can’t do this, I look at what she did. She set an example for me and for my brother and doesn’t always give herself enough credit for what she accomplished. Even if your kids don’t understand right now, I promise you that one day they will thank you and strive to be just like you.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Sarah, I am also touched by your response to my post. These shared experiences are exactly what I value most about this journey. Having you and Miriam in my group—along with others like Yvonne, Lori & Lori-Anne etc… kept me focussed and helped me through those two weeks. When you spoke about your mom going back to school and the memories that you cherish, I couldn’t help but relate as those were the same things that went through my mind when I thought of my own family. I remember when my dad passed away, I used to stay at my best-friends house when my mom was out working two jobs. His mom went back to school leaving his dad and brother for months at a time for four years to attain a law degree. She inspired me to commit to this opportunity and now I can’t imagine how strong she must have been to go through those sacrifices. It all worked out in the end for her and her family, just like your mom did for you and your brother. I can only hope that I make my family proud of me. I will continue to work hard and give this my best shot, no matter how challenging it may get.


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