Two years after I first walked into a classroom in the basement of Clearihue for my first day of grad school, I’ve officially graduated. The grad box arrived last week, so now I have that degree in hand (and the hat on my head!).
In recognition of two years of producing work, this blog post summarizes and presents all the major output from this degree (it’s a lot!)
This M.Ed program was project-based, so the last term was spent putting together a major project. Based on my research and practical experience, I created a website resource to help other practitioners create asynchronous, self-paced online orientation programs called Taking Orientation Online.
The journal article
In early 2021, NODA put out a call for articles for a special COVID-19 edition of the Journal of College Orientation, Transition and Retention. My literature review seemed to fit the criteria, so I did some editing, pressed submit, and now I have an official publication: Designing effective online orientation programs for first-year university students.
This might be the most exciting thing that’s ever happened to me.
The official submission
The final submission that was needed to fulfill the requirements of the degree was a four-chapter file: Chapter 1 was our introduction which shared the background and rationale of the project, Chapter 2 was the full literature review, Chapter 3 was the project itself, and Chapter 4 was a reflection on learning. This was uploaded to UVic DSpace, where it will live forever. I don’t necessarily recommend reading it, but it’s there!
The oral defense
The last thing we had to do on the path to our degree was participate in an oral defence. These are the slides from my 10-minute presentation. (Spoiler: I passed!).
Two years of work
A large part of this degree was learning about open education, while simultaneously practicing open education. As a result, a lot of things were written, created, and shared publicly throughout this degree:
- Wrote 24 blog posts consisting of 34,335 words
- Co-wrote one e-book, Learning to Learn Online, consisting of 10,292 words
- Co-created two videos, one of an EdTech Debate on the topic of digital equity, and the other sharing advice for online learning directly from UVic students
- Wrote two literature reviews outside the project submission, consisting of 7,493 words
- Co-created three blog posts as an accessibility resource for educators (an introduction to digital accessibility, curated accessibility resources, and a digital accessibility how-to) which totalled 2,930 words
- Created one final project, Taking Orientation Online. This consisted of 22,312 words of blog posts, and 16,475 words of content replicated from and/or explaining UVic’s Pre-Arrival Program
- Wrote one final master’s submission (chapters 1-4), consisting of 19,956 words
- Total number of words: 113,793 (not counting all the words I wrote and then deleted)
Additionally, I wrote eight blog posts documenting the journey through grad school, consisting of 6983 more words.
A note of gratitude
Since most of you will never read my official master’s project submission (and I don’t blame you), below is a slightly edited version of my acknowledgements section.
Doing a master’s degree, particularly during a pandemic, can often feel like a solitary activity. I am forever grateful to the people in my life who made me feel less alone and provided advice, encouragement, a sounding board, and ultimately, a community.
I have loved the entire journey of doing my master’s degree and cannot thank the #tiegrad cohort enough for the conversation, commiseration, and constant refrains to stop overthinking. I am so grateful I had the chance to learn from and with you.
There would be no #tiegrad with Valerie Irvine, who supported our entire cohort right from day one. And it seems possible that I would have never made it to the end without my supervisor, Michael Paskevicius, who had an uncanny ability to make me feel calmer and convince me to stop worrying about anything and everything, let me miss every deadline I told him I’d meet, and was a never-ending source of encouragement.
I owe so much to the folks at UVic’s Technology Integrated Learning (TIL) department, particularly Rebecca Edwards, Hayley Hewson, and Mariel Miller. They were my partners in creating UVic’s Pre-Arrival Program and taught me so much along the way. Many of the processes, approaches, methods and opinions discussed throughout this project were strongly influenced by this team. They have made my work infinitely better.
I love working in student affairs and have felt the support from colleagues across the country throughout this master’s degree. Colleagues I barely know offered to read versions of my writing and provide feedback, and repeatedly told me how useful this content would be when I was questioning everything for the 800th time. Colleagues I know quite well were always willing to hear me talk about the rabbit holes I had gone down, checked in on how I was doing, and yelled at me for procrastinating. My Twitter community offered so much support, through likes, replies, and most importantly, gifs, every time I shared a milestone, a complaint, or was just freaking out a little. Dan, Noah, Logan, and Layne, I’m so glad we all ended up doing our master’s degrees at the same time.
Finally, I am especially grateful to the folks in UVic’s Office of Student Life, who offered endless support and encouragement along the way. Perhaps most importantly, thanks to Kirsten McMenamie, who let me take this work that I love, turn it into my master’s project, and share it with the world.