Everyone Has a Plan ’till They Get Punched In The Mouth.

tyson-punch-out

Everyone has a plan ’till they get punched in the mouth.

— Mike Tyson

I finally listened to an online info session that I missed last week about my upcoming research paper. As of January 22nd 2017, I’ll begin working on my final paper, which is due June 4th 2017 (I can’t wait! 🙌🏽). After listening to the info session I missed last week, I realized that half of 2017 will be spent in my basement reading, writing and reflecting… pretty much the same way I spent half of 2015 and the entire year of 2016. 😜

For some odd reason I thought the next six months would be easier than the past year and half… I thought I’d have time to complete my paper at my own pace, actually spend some time with friends, maybe plan a couple “weekend getaways” with the family… WRONG! (Insert punch in the mouth here 🥊) There’s schedules to be made, milestones to attain and deadlines to be met. It’s suggested that 200 hours of effort be put towards our research in order to complete a 10,000 word/45 page research paper. 😰 I’ve already began to plan a weekly agenda, outline my tasks and also allot time for research, writing and synthesizing my findings… (there I go again with that word “plan”).

Even though it seems like there’s a lot to do, it can be done. Yes, I’m feeling a bit overwhelmed and stressed (as usual) but who wouldn’t be? It’s normal. Especially when expectations are so high and time is limited. There’s a lot to be done over the next six months but I’m learning to practice what I preach and “trust the process”, stay focussed and enjoy the experience.

#6Months2Go

tyson-punch-out-ko

Higher Ed’s Digital Skills Gap: Faculty & Students — Online Learning Insights

“Digital technology is an ally for higher education” —Professor Mary McAleese, Teaching and Learning in Irish Higher Education (2015) Most educators today possess the digital skills needed to function in academic life. There’s the basics—managing email, using the Learning Management System (LMS), uploading papers to plagiarism checkers among others. Yet some faculty still struggle with […]

via Higher Ed’s Digital Skills Gap: Faculty & Students — Online Learning Insights

This is what writing a thesis looks like?

So it’s been a long time since I’ve posted a blog entry. I’ve been pretty busy over the last few months with school, work and freelance… oh ya, and those people that live with me; I think they’re my family. Even though I’ve been consumed with work, I’m excited to begin my research paper. I’ve finally chosen a thesis topic and wrapped my head around where I’d like to focus my research. I’ve only begun working on my introduction this past week but I’m anxious to see how my paper develops. Fleshing out my ideas have taken longer than I expected but I think I’m on the right track now. It’s only the beginning of my writing process but I can see light at the end of the “Masters tunnel”. 7 more months to go!

I finally left my basement after 4 days… and this was just a rough draft… 😰

thesis

The Right to Education: Quality Impacts Opportunity.

Sometimes my mind wanders and I tend to think critically about what messages are being delivered through media, educational institutions and society as a whole. I may read too deeply into things at times and wonder what the intended agenda behind the messages really are. I’ve always thought deeply about what ‘The Right to Education’ really means. I would presume that most people agree that everyone has the right to an education but what level of quality does that education provide? What is the cost of the education and how accessible is the education that we agree should be obtainable for all? These questions all depend on how a person defines the words ‘right’ and ‘education’. How would you define the terms accessible or affordable? What does quality of education mean to you? We all define these terms differently, so the phrase means different things to different people based on their understanding and experience.

Defining Education.

On a broad scale, education can be defined as “all activities, which a person or group transfers information to its descendants as a body of knowledge and skills to enable a person or group to subsist” (Beiter, 2005). Hmm, that sounds like a pretty general definition. However, that last word in the quote is what really intrigues me. Subsist. Subsist could also have varying definitions; depending on who you ask. The Merriam-Websters dictionary defines subsist as “to maintain or support oneself, especially at a minimal level.” A minimal level? Okay, this is where my mind starts to read deeper into things and I start to ask myself a series of questions.

  • Does the right to education mean that people have the right to a minimal level of education?
  • How does this definition and the use of the term minimal impact the quality of education?
  • What rights are included in a minimal education?
  • At what point does a minimal education commence?
  • Assuming that a minimal level education consists of K–12 education levels, how does one support oneself with a minimal level of education in a world that demands a higher level of education to succeed and support ones life or the lives of their families?
  • If the goal behind the right to education is to provide a minimal level of education for all; are there standards that a minimal education adhere to?
  • Does a minimal level of education allow a person to obtain a good quality of life beyond educating themselves?
  • What does ‘quality of life’ mean?… See how my mind wanders?

My Redefinition.

Denzel Washington — The Great Debaters.

The Right to Education—in my opinion—should be one that is inclusive, equal in scope, accessible, and prepares a person to progress beyond a “minimal level” of education. I believe that the right to education should not have limitations. I would hope that most people agree that a minimal education does not go very far in the competitive landscape that we currently live in. The right to education should not simply include teaching children how to read, write and do arithmetic based on low standardized checklists. Don’t get me wrong, the fundamentals are necessary. However, in the 21st century, I have experienced students who are expected or assumed to be intellectually advanced—by way of their birth date (Millennials)—yet they possess an inconsistent quality of learning of these foundational skills. They may also be assessed differently. It is a shame that not all students experience reading, writing and mathematics with equal quality. However, there are many other fundamentals of learning that students experience poorly or not at all. If we accept providing people with a minimal education, this means that we accept the quality of education to be minimal as well. How can we expect people to succeed in the current world if their educational experiences are of lesser quality than the demands made by higher levels of education? If a minimal level of education is not granted at an equal level of quality then the right to education will prohibit people from pursuing higher education; and shouldn’t people be granted the right to higher education as well?

The Right to Education in the 21st century.

I may not be able to provide students with financial accessibility for their educational path but I can redefine what the right to education includes in my classroom. I believe everyone should be given the right to a quality education that prepares them to pursue their passion and potential. Students should have the right to think freely, objectively and critically about the messages and information delivered to them and how they apply to their lives and the lives of others. I’ve met many students in my 10 short years of teaching at the post-secondary level and I have to say that I’ve seen many students arrive in my classroom incredible talents and abilities. Most of them come into my class with different levels of education and experiences. Even those who presume their education is of equal standing find out that there are differences in how they experienced the “same” education offered to their peers. I am also aware of the many incredible students that I have not met or those who had to leave my classes that may have excelled at the post-secondary level but were not afforded or granted the same opportunities and quality of education as other students; for whatever reasons. As an educator, professor, teacher, facilitator, mentor… whatever category I fit in, no matter what level of education I provide, I will always strive to nurture and provide students with a quality education that is inclusive and prepares them to reach their potential with meaning and fulfilment.

Idris Elba — Speech on Diversity.

 

References

Beiter, Klaus Dieter (2005). The Protection of the Right to Education by International Law. The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff. p. 19. ISBN 90-04-14704-7.

The Four R’s of RRUMALAT: A Masters Student Guide To Survival.

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Running. Reading. Writing. Resting. | GIF created by Mark-Anthony Karam 2016.

It’s been a hectic start to 2016. Although, this is what I signed up for; I have to admit I get overwhelmed at times… Ok, I get overwhelmed many times. I tend to take on more than I can handle outside of work and school, which can contribute to unwanted stress. Obtaining a healthy work/life balance is always a struggle for many people, including myself. That’s why I decided to throw in taking a Master’s. 😐 <— That was sarcasm.

With the due date of my second assignment nearing for LRNT 505—in addition to my program portfolio show to prepare for, designing and developing online courses, family obligations, yada-yada-yada—sticking to a strict schedule has become crucial for me in order to manage projects and deadlines. (Off-the-record, writing this blog post was not part of today’s strict schedule. 😉 ) Over the past month, I’ve made an effort to stick to my routine of managing deadlines and managing stress. I call it the Four R’s of RRUMALAT (RRU Masters of Art Learning and Technology). These Four R’s help me get through my day and keep my sanity: Running, Reading, Writing and Resting. In order to maintain a healthy balance between work, life and school, I set aside time to exercise, complete assigned school work and get enough sleep so that I don’t “crash” throughout the day.

Hopefully, I can keep up with my Four R’s of RRUMALAT and survive the next 15 months.

I usually wake up at 5:30am and go for a 30–45 minute run and a brief workout. After my run, I get ready for work. I begin work at 10am and teach a class for four hours but I usually arrive at work by 8:30am. With the extra time, I read a few assigned chapters for school in my office, write notes and flesh out my ideas for any upcoming paper’s or weekly tasks/discussions that my teacher has assigned. After work, I make my way home and fulfil family obligations. Before going to bed, I read some more and write again… as I get ready to repeat the process the next day.

There are many other things I manage throughout my day; in addition to the above. I haven’t even touched on personal obligations. However, setting aside some time for myself and my family are important for me in maintaining a healthy work/life/school balance. I’ve made a lot of sacrifices to go back to school but sacrificing my family and health are not sacrifices that I’m willing to make. Besides, that’s what keeps me going.

So far, I can’t complain. I love the program, I’m learning a ton, and I’m meeting some great people while building relationships in an online community along the way. Hopefully, I can keep up with my Four R’s of RRUMALAT routine and survive the next 15 months.

M.

Be Water: My Online Learning Philosophy

With so much to remember, online facilitation and teaching isn’t easy. With so many factors to consider as an instructor and student, the process of teaching and learning in an online learning environment can get overwhelming at times. My approach to learning and teaching in an online learning environment is one that is adaptive, collaborative, inclusive and centered around the learner. I believe these attributes can help build a positive online learning community where social collaboration can be nurtured and enriched with the use of technology.

#BeWaterMyFriends

M.