One of the questions I have reflected on quite a bit during my two years working towards a Masters of Distance Education and E-Learning is “Why get another degree?” One might think I would have answered this question before beginning, and certainly I had my reasons at the start. After working in online learning for 12 years, I wanted a credential to go along with my experience, and I wanted new learning to supplement my practice.
As I continued in the program, however, I had more opportunities to critically consider the value of formal education and to ask myself when enough is enough. The course Costs and Economics of Distance Education & E-Learning prompted much of my consideration, as I was led to think seriously about education’s value to individuals and society. Realizing that education is a positional good led me to question why I would seek to add another degree to my résumé when I already had attained a graduate degree.
In June, I participated in the MarylandOnline Leadership Institute, a four-day gathering of emerging leaders in online learning put on by the same organization that developed Quality Matters. As part of the institute, I took the Clifton Strengths Finder assessment and found that my top strength is Learner.
This helped reveal to me that, to be my best self, I will always be pursuing new learning, whether or not it results in certifications or degrees. Combine this with my other top strengths of Input, Individualization, Ideation, and Intellection, and it makes sense that I thrive in an educational environment, both as an educator and a learner.
In addition to the ways in which education provides value, the MDE program also opened my eyes to the vast disparities in educational opportunity around the globe and even within the United States. While I can pursue education because I thrive on it, because it helps me be great at my job and be my best self, others are not so fortunate. Therefore, I do not take the privilege of earning another degree for granted. I am inspired to take a global and multicultural perspective and to play my part in opening opportunity for others.