Integrating art instruction with the digital world
Karen was a teaching artist in elementary and high schools for 13 years, with little consideration of the possible role of technology in her work. She took a year off to volunteer for AmeriCorps/VISTA, and stayed on as program coordinator with a non-profit literacy organization for a couple more years. Then she felt a sea change when she discovered a course offered by a Marlboro MAT graduate.
"I took an online course at Community College of Vermont called Introduction to Online Teaching," said Karen. "The course excited me about the possibilities of integrating my background in art with the digital world. Before the five-week course was over, my application was in at Marlboro College Graduate Center."
"My MCGC program allowed me to re-invent myself. It was a very challenging year to work and go to school at the same time. The grad center experience took me out of my comfort zone many, many times, but was exciting at the same time. I learned new and cutting edge technologies at every step of the way. I also liked meeting friends I will have for life."
What made the MAT program at the graduate center stand out for Karen was how it meshed with the real world, in terms of both timing and content. "The program was flexible and offered a Constructivist approach to learning," said Karen. "In other words, I applied everything I learned in some way, shape or form."
Karen's capstone project was designed to increase awareness of the ease and uses of technology among arts and humanities instructors at CCV, where she has been an art and history instructor since 2001. "Humanities and art teachers are often not early adopters of tech and I wanted to show them that one of their own was actually using it and having a blast. I hoped that my enthusiasm would rub off."
Apparently it did. While Karen was finishing her capstone, CCV posted the position of coordinator of online learning services, and she was hired and started the day after she defended her thesis.
"The expertise she acquired through her Marlboro College graduate program was certainly a factor in her hiring," said Eric Sakai, director of learning technologies at Vermont State Colleges. "We wanted someone with a vision of academic technology for the future of higher education. I believe Karen gained an understanding not only of technology tools but also of how technology needs to be deployed to transform teaching and learning."
In addition to her roles at CCV both as an instructor and academic services coordinator, Karen has started a doctoral program in computing technology in education at Nova Southeastern University.