Well – here I am. One year into my Master’s degree in Educational Technology and Design.  What a difference one year can make!  I’m 3/4 of the way through my program with only two half-classes to finish this upcoming year.  I can see the light at the end of the tunnel.  The problem now is What If I Don’t Want this Tunnel to End?

I’ve always been a task oriented person.  That was my learning style, and that’s how I tackled life.  I was seeing my program as a ‘checklist’ of sorts —- ETAD 802……check! ETAD 804…….check?  and so on.  The courses were a means to an end – a walk across the stage, a hand-shake, a couple of photos and a nice piece of paper to hang on my wall.

My whole paradigm of my own learning shifted recently on a trip up to Emma Lake.

In a nutshell, the University of Saskatchewan has a campus up in Northern Saskatchewan (just south of Prince Albert National Park).  This campus was originally used by Arts and Ecology. Today many different programs go up to the campus for various course work.  There were 11 students who went up to the camp (2 of which I never met because they had to leave before I arrived).  My fellow students were all at different points in their program – one classmate had even finished her program in the spring, but was there for some video editing experience. When I head that she was coming?  My initial thoughts were…..”If you’re done?  Why would you come back? There’s no credit……You already have a degree……..Aren’t you tired and need a break??”.

As the time went on (and after many conversations) I realized two things – that my own time in the program will soon be ‘over’ and that the program is more than a degree – its a community – a family of learners.  There were several questions about what happens when you’ve finished the program.  Are you ‘out of the circle’….’over and done with?’

During one of our deep conversations over some coffee (and a beautiful view of the lake) we realized that we cannot simply rely on professors to keep us in the loop. Throughout our program they gave us the tools and capacity (and leadership) to carry the torch.  It’s up to us to work together to continue our learning community.  A few of us are hoping to start a podcast, and a few may hold twitter chats to stay current and connected.  I’m also planning on returning to Emma Lake next summer – as a graduate – to work on some projects and connect with my friends and colleagues – and just maybe – this ‘tunnel’ will go on a little longer.

J.T.

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