What Have We Learned? DLL Program Reflection

Just for fun: a word cloud of my portfolio website.
Created using www.wordclouds.com

Looking Back

As I looked back through my portfolio website and the courses in the DLL program, I found it interesting the reaction they evoked in me. And maybe I was just hungry at the time, but it made me think of how different kinds of food make me feel. Some topics were like comfort food—parts of the program that I knew were a good fit for me and I was right. Others were like a new cuisine I’d been wanting to try—I knew they would be a stretch for me but I knew I had something I wanted to learn. Yet others were more serendipitous, they weren’t really even on my radar, but when I came across them I discovered something I didn’t know I was missing (these ended up being my favorites).

Comfort Food

bacon and panko crusted ridiculously rich mac 'n' cheese
Bacon Mac & Cheese
Photo by gail_thepinkpeppercorn on Flickr)

One of the things that drew me to the DLL program was the idea of a self-directed program. Once I got into the program, though, I discovered just how self-directed it was. Even more importantly, I learned about the innovation plan, which allowed me to learn the way I learn best–by thinking about a topic and applying it to a real-world situation. School has never come easy for me, but I got into computer programming without taking any formal computer classes because I had a real problem to solve. Once I learned that this was the approach of this program, I knew this was going to work well for me, and it absolutely did.

Organizational change was another topic that I thought would be an enjoyable topic, and I found that it absolutely was. One of the draws for me of moving up into administration (I know, I know, the dreaded “A” word…) has been the ability to see a need and have a real, noticeable, immediate impact. Well, not always as immediate or noticeable as I’d like, but having a leadership position allows me the ability to push for change without needing to push through quite as many layers of opposition above me. The “Influencer” model helped me to think through how to do this in a way that encourages the team that is under my care to lead rather than demoralizing them.

New Cuisine

Chicken Cordon Bleu with Wild rice and ratatouille....
Chicken Cordon Bleu with Ratatouille
Photo by swisschef on Flickr

Another of my goals for getting a M.Ed. was to understand the instructional side of the college a little better. Though I have worked in higher education for about 13 years, I have been almost exclusively on the operational side. When I moved into an administrative role in my college’s IT department, I wanted more context. That is, I wanted to understand the more about instruction and learning theory to be able to more effectively run an IT department that supports the college’s educational mission and instructors. 

Courses that dealt with learning theory, course design, online/blended learning, and creating significant learning environments were definitely a challenge for me. That challenge was exactly what I needed and was looking for, and I find it much easier now to discuss learning environments with instructors and I have a much better understanding of how I can support them and students with technology.

New Discoveries

Indian Food in Tokyo
An Indian food spread
Photo by dannychoo on Flickr

The first time I tried Indian food was because we just happened to drive by an Indian restaurant and thought it seemed interesting. Perhaps part of what made it so enjoyable was the unexpectedness of finding something so enjoyable almost by accident. 

In this same way, perhaps the biggest pleasant surprise for me was how much I enjoyed the research and literature reviews. Reviewing the research and conducting some original research. Reading the research completely changed my perspective on developmental education (the subject of my innovation plan), and that has become something I’m passionate about. I’ve been working already to make some changes and implement some new technology to help bridge the gap and empower our academic advisors to help developmental students.


It was great to see my progression through the program and what some of my main takeaways were from each course. In the timeline below I share a little bit of how each course contributed to my learning process; you can click through to see each individual course reflection. A course and assignment index is also available for more detail.

The Bottom Line

I am grateful for what I have been able to accomplish and for the growth I’ve seen in myself over the past two years. I came into this course a technology professional, and I feel that I have emerged an educator, and a stronger leader. Learning COVA and CSLE by being steeped in that type of environment and by practically working through concepts by developing an innovation plan has given me the tools to lead and empower others to help create the next generation of learners and change the world the only way we can—one learner at a time.