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Reflection Living and working more than an hour away from any university kept earning a graduate degree on the list of those things that “might have been nice to accomplish.” After having a conversation with colleagues who were graduate students working toward their principalship certification and completing some of their coursework online, I began exploring the possibility of enrolling in graduate school myself. I discovered that the Instructional Technology master’s degree program at University of Houston – Clear Lake (UHCL) provided an opportunity to complete the entire degree online. With that, I made up my mind that I would work toward this degree. One of the very positive aspects of the program at UHCL is that attending class was as easy as logging on to a computer. The fact that all of the coursework was online made it possible for me to work and travel during the semester without being “absent” from class. Not being locked into a set class schedule allowed me to work around my family’s daily routine. I simply logged on to retrieve or submit assignments whenever and wherever it fit my schedule. A second aspect which I very much appreciate is the opportunity to choose the way in which I would complete the degree. My strong suit is not writing and I would not have chosen to enter the master’s degree program if submitting a thesis had been the only option for completion. The practical experience of an internship was much more appealing. The only negative experience I can recall is the difficulty I had, at times, understanding exactly what the expectations were from certain professors. The fact that students are, for the most part, relying with written words on a page to provide them with all of the guidelines and expectations for any given assignment, makes it difficult to be sure that one is performing at the desired level. As an intern, I was given the opportunity to work side by side with individuals who are usually my supervisors. As a building Instructional Technology Specialist (ITS) my communication with them is typically limited to weekly email messages and monthly meetings. During this experience, I gained insight into how the Educational Technology Department functions at the district level. This experience has greatly affected how I plan to work with my staff during the upcoming school year. I have a better understanding of what is truly meant by “seamless technology integration across curriculum.” Because of the relationships that I built during my internship, I have been invited to assist in writing upcoming trainings, have been consulted on new assessment tools for use with district middle schools in the area of technology integration, and will be training teachers who have been hired to begin working in the district. I am sure there are more doors waiting to open for me as my campus has been chosen to pilot a Gifted and Talented Academy for middle school students. All of these opportunities for professional growth have been made possible as a result of the education and experience I was given through the Instructional Technology master’s degree program at UHCL.
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