StellaPORTO eportfolio

E-learning academics and practice

‘Ex’ in Ex-CS

Re-inventing myself and becoming a distance educator

It is still fresh in my mind when I decided to start the MDE and the thought that my technological background would find a great match with the other areas of study within the MDE. This thought was mostly intuitive, although I did back it up with lots of rationalization. What great intuitive movement that was… Yes, I was totally right.

Coming from a traditional Computer Science background, it was hard to understand that research and most publications could be so fluid. It was hard to grasp that practical work, the one done everyday based on experimentation could in fact be shared and had so much value. This was one of the big lessons.

Being a multidisciplinary program, I was able to reach out to many of the previous learnings I had had to make associations. In a way, you never get rid of your academic background, and in my case, I continue to be “Ms. Computer Architecture” or “Ms. Parallel processing”. From afar, I watched out for changes in those fields, but I was happy to be connected to a new area, where ‘service’ was at its core. I wanted to see results of what I do right there in front of my eyes. The focus on adult learning, and the use of distance education was inherently connected to service, and that brought immediate satisfaction.

Another important piece of my transformation dealt with management. I had never studied anything related to management, and my everyday work did not involve dealing with such processes. Advising students, faculty, becoming associate chair and then chair of a department meant to be thrown into all of the managerial themes: dealing with conflict; leading a group, managing groups; managing projects; scheduling tasks; assessing results… One of the great opportunities I had throughout these years was the Leadership Program at UMUC, during the year of 2006. This made a huge difference in putting the pieces together and assessing my own challenges as a manager.

The presentation done with Gene Rubin in 2005 at the MLA in away describes all the fronts that a distance educator needs to work on. I had a chance through the MDE together with my work at UMUC to establish contact with all of them.

What is a distance educator?

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