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Archive for July, 2006

Teach for America

Sunday, July 23rd, 2006

Early this morning, my daughter flew to New York City, the “Big Apple.” In May, she graduated from college with a Bachelor of Arts, Summa Cum Laude, and found a postition as a recruitment associate with a non-profit educational group even before she graduated.

Teach for America is the national corps of outstanding recent college graduates of all academic majors who commit two years to teach in urban and rural public schools and become lifelong leaders in ensuring educational equity and excellence for all children. Our mission is to build the movement to eliminate educational equity by enlisting our nation’s most promising future leaders in the effort.” (from the website)

The organization was founded by Wendy Kopp, who felt that there was a correctible educational gap in a number of low-income communities. Wendy presented the idea in her senior thesis at Princeton and Teach for America was born. Teach for America has impacted the lives of over two million students since 1989. If you would like to know  more about this fine organization, click one of the links in this post.

We are so proud of my daughter’s accomplishment, as she works to make a difference in the lives of children through recruiting college grads to work as teachers. Both she and I feel that the world can be changed for the better through educational opportunity. We believe that learning can open doors and make advances both in the community as a whole, as well as the individual. Education is a wonderful possession – it can never be stolen or lost, and it always has a positive impact.

Join with me to support the fine young people who are working for Teach for America!

Reading Wren

Saturday, July 15th, 2006

I am working through Wren and hope to get a writing start on Assignment #2 today. I am still weighing possibilities for which industry to discuss. I did some research this week and have some ideas. I typically do congruent research as I am reading. This augments the learning from the text and helps me with historical perspective and balance.

One of the students in our MGT5031 class is actually a neighbor of mine. I use the term “neighbor” in the rural south Alabama tradition – she lives about 20 miles away~ For all you city folks, this is pretty close, in a distinctly rural sort of way.

Mom and Dad are doing just fine (thanks for asking!). They are apprehensive about Tuesday but I know that we will work through the details. Mom has been in a wheelchair for a few years but she still wants to stay the night at the hospital with Dad. I don’t know how that will work out but I will let you know.

On my plate today is the Wren reading and paper start. Plus all of the other things that make my life interesting…and complicated!

Tossing Around the Possibilities

Wednesday, July 12th, 2006

I have been thinking about Assignment #2 and a selection of an industry. I have a few ideas that I am tossing around in my head, but I have not decided yet. To be honest, I was leaning toward a particular industry and was doing some preliminary research. I signed onto the student webpage/learner web page and found that Dr. Crake had just posted an “example” paper from a student on the exact same industry and with some of the exact same references that I was looking at. 

There is no way that I will choose this industry now. I don’t want Dr. Crake to think that I had copied someone else’s work. Oh well, back to the drawing board. I am just very happy that it was posted before I got too involved in the project.

I took a pause regarding working on my papers because my parents had heart catheterizations yesterday (Mom) and today (Dad). Next Tuesday, Dad will have two stints put in to help two blockages. I have been sitting in the hospital with my parents and instead of reading Wren, I took a novel to read. Of course, in the hospital, there are many interruptions and I just could not see trying to read the text with all of that goings-on.

Tonight, I had a number of papers to grade for a GEN/300 class that finished up on Monday evening. This was a FlexNet class, which is the online and campus blended modality. The grades were pretty good for this class, even though several students had tech/computer issues at the beginning. It is always interesting to see the difference between the first night of class and the last night of class. The learning curve is often very steep when adults return back to school and also take online classes. I know that a number of my fellow learners at NCU are experiencing some of the same things as my students.

Asynchronous learning can be disconcerting at first. Adult learners are well-suited for this method of androgogal instruction, which provides the student with learning based on their needs. Adult learners are self-paced and responsible for the extent of the receipt of knowledge transfer. In other words, asynchronous online learning can be a challenge!

Which Brings us to Today…

Monday, July 10th, 2006

So far in this journal, I have been pulling the reader up to today.

Here is where I am, now….not quite halfway through my first course at NCU. Along the way, I have met and networked with a few nice folks. Eric Brown provided inspiration and encouragement to begin this blog. Be sure to visit Eric’s Ph.D. Journey for additional insight regarding his experiences at NCU.

I have found NCU learners in some of the groups and newsgroups that I read. I have had a few emails from other learners welcoming me to NCU. My academic counselor, Rita, has been very nice to answer some very dumb questions. I tell my students that an education is one thing that no one can ever steal or take away from them. Every moment that is spent learning is spent wisely.

Now that I have made the commitment to return to school, I know that it will not be easy or fast. I will have to be content with taking one course at a time, working two jobs, and trying to be a wife and mother to people who matter.

Is it worth it?

I think so.

“Education, therefore, is a process of living

and not a preparation for future living.”

                          – John Dewey

MGT5031: Assignment #2

Sunday, July 9th, 2006

The thought of quitting flittered through my brain. I can’t follow directions. I can’t follow directions.

OK, enough beating myself up. There is another assignment due.

For your second assignment, select an industry that has undergone significant change in terms of organizational understanding, people management, complexity, and use of scientific theory in management. Generally, these are industries or businesses that radically evolved during the first half of the 20th century. Describe the changes that occurred to the business or industry in terms of its evolution in management.

Module #3 includes reading chapters 7-18 in the Wren textbook. This section covers Taylorism (scientific management), the Gilbreths and others. Years ago, I read Cheaper by the Dozen and it became one of my favorite books. Now, I am meeting the Gilbreths once again.  

Too Big

Sunday, July 9th, 2006

Dr. Crake returned my paper without grading it. The file exceeded 1MB in size. Barely exceeded, but still, exceeded.

You see, he has this on the student webpage and the syllabus, “Please keep your assignment file submission size to below 1 MB, otherwise it becomes cumbersome to work with.”

I certainly understand this rational.

I had checked the file size when I finished my paper. Then, I copy/pasted the special NCU cover page, saved the file and sent it. What a dummy. My first baby step toward my Ph.D. and my professor thinks I don’t know how to follow directions.

Impressive.

The NCU cover page tipped the file size.

I swallowed whatever pride I had left and the only way I knew how to correct the problem was to change the figures in the paper. I changed them to gif’s instead of bmp’s. This worked and I sent the file again, along with my apologies. I hope Dr. Crake does not hold a grudge against students with files that are too big. I won’t make that mistake again. I will look at the file size including the special NCU cover page.

This little episode won’t be forgotten. I had combed over my paper numerous times looking for missplaced commas or weird grammar. But I missed what was really important to my professor.

Size matters.

MGT5031: Assignment #1

Sunday, July 9th, 2006

After reading the six chapters in the Wren book as well as the resources available on the course page, I decided on a topic for Assignment #1:

For your first assignment, select an industry that you believe was profoundly changed during the industrial revolution. Describe the nature of the industry before, during and after the industrial revolution. Discuss and describe how the management of the industry and within the industry was changed by the industrial revolution.

The most obvious choice would have been the textile industry. I found a bunch of material on textiles. Not me – I chose the oil and petroleum industry. Here is the abstract:

Abstract

Although the uses of oil and petroleum were known for centuries in the Muslim world, the successful drilling and collection in large economic quantities did not occur until 1859 in Pennsylvania. During the Industrial Revolution, entrepreneur John D. Rockefeller realized oil’s potential as an energy source and purchased the complete supply chain from mining to distribution. The resulting monopoly led to the introduction of legislation to combat big business in the United States. After the Industrial Revolution, the industry continued to provide fuel to power the machines and the technology that led to sweeping economic developments in transportation and industry. Oil became the fuel that turned the United States into a great industrial power in the 20th century.

The assignment took many hours of research because of the nature of the topic. So many sources focused on Rockefeller, and generally ignored the industry itself. My daughter and husband read my paper and made some corrections and suggestions. I held my breath and turned it in to Dr. Crake.

The Syllabus

Sunday, July 9th, 2006

I know what to expect in a syllabus. I create them; I pass them out to students. I talk about them in class. I refer to them as a “contract” between me and the student.

So, why was I so intimidated by the syllabus that I received for MGT5031? 

I think that it must be the fact that I held in my hand proof that I was really doing this. It’s kind of like when you are ready to take a vacation trip but it seems like it is not real until you get the plane tickets or the final confirmation. My first thought when I read the syllabus was, what the heck was I thinking?

Actually, the syllabus is well laid out and very complete. The assignments are listed and it is cram packed with information that will help me succeed. Of course, the class appeared to be a lot of work. There are three papers to write and the topics are related to the history of management, beginning with the industrial revolution until today. There are five “Modules” dividing the course into swallow-able portions.

The student webpage is very nicely formatted and even includes discussion areas where students can exchange information. One of the topics is Buy/Sell Books. I zeroed in on this topic right after I looked at the prices in the official bookstore, run by MBS Direct. Way too expensive for me! I posted a note about the books that I was looking for, and immediately got some feedback from a few folks selling their books. Paul F. and I made a quick deal and soon my check for $75 was headed his way and his books were headed my way. 

We use APA in all classes at the University of Phoenix, so I have the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association. The primary text for the course is The History of Management Thought, 5th edition by Daniel A. Wren. A quick perusal and I knew this book and I would get to know each other very well. Luckily, it is not big and heavy so I can carry it easily in my briefcase.

I hole-punched and three-ring-bindered the syllabus and read it four times. I started reading the first six chapters in the Wren book, which is the first reading requirement for Module 2. I thought it might end up being dry. To my surprise, the text is very readable and Mike (my husband) and I have discussed some of the topics. He is a history buff and jumped right in with some insight.

I think I am going to make it.

A Birthday Present

Sunday, July 9th, 2006

I received the acceptance letter on my birthday, May 23: 

Hello Cynthia,

You have been accepted to Northcentral University!

Your acceptance is only valid for 30 days and your attention is required now in order to complete enrollment at NCU. Your enrollment packet is ready to review on your applicant account screen.

First, review and acknowledge the letter of acceptance.

Second, review the degree plan, which has been prepared for you.

Third, request your first course electronically.

Lastly, you must submit your tuition payment in order to complete the enrollment process. You will have the option to pay your tuition online when you submit the course request.

As soon as these items are completed and tuition has been received, the Registrar will send your course syllabus, textbook information, and contact information for your Mentor.

Welcome to the NCU community, and best wishes on your studies.


This letter was from my enrollment counselor, Rita, who has been encouraging me ever since I sent an initial request for information, just as I had done with five other universities that had programs of interest. I followed the steps above, and received the information for my first class, MGT 5031, The History of Management Theory, with Dr. Alan Crake. Class was set to begin on July 1. All of the assignments must be completed and submitted by the final date of the course, September 23.   

A Decision

Sunday, July 9th, 2006

I also have three educator friends attending Capella University, and one attending Argosy University. Yet, as I reviewed the various schools with online or partially online programs, I kept coming back to Northcentral University.  Why NCU? The main reasons are no residency (100% online), monthly course starts and price.  According to the website, the estimated cost of attendance is $25,825, which of course does not include books. If I remain consistently enrolled for four years, expenses will be about $6,500/year. The additional salary from my teaching job for a Ph.D. is favorable, and the possibility of a real job career advancement is real. A Ph.D. may also open doors that include writing, editing and consulting in the future. All of these things pushed me toward thinking about a Ph.D.

I try to keep current in both my career as well as my teaching. I am a member of various groups and forums where higher learning is discussed endlessly. One particular group is devoted to online education discussion, and the topic of whether an online-Ph.D. is as relevant as a brick-and-mortar-Ph.D. is continually bantered.

Some accuse NCU learners of wanting a “vanity” Ph.D. Not me! I plan to get as much mileage out of my grad degree as possible. I believe that I can offer my students greater depth of knowledge about business topics. I will apply my learnings to my real job, just as I have applied my learnings from my MBA (I will discuss my education at some point in the future – suffice it to say that I do NOT have a undergrad business degree, I have a science degree).

In reality, I do not have time for a “vanity” Ph.D. If I could not justify a degree, I would not attempt it. Would you?

I began my search in Fall 2005, and decided in May 2006 online learning via Northcentral University would be my choice. Trembling, I submitted an online application and waited.

Why?

Sunday, July 9th, 2006

I earned my MBA while working a full time career, juggling family and work responsibilities. Once I finished my final course, I swore that I would never go back to school because of the time and effort that it took to finish. But here I am again, back in school, just five short years later. Why? Because I want to. Yes, I know that sounds like sheer insanity, but I have a hunger to learn, to think, to know.

Because of some family circumstances, I have worked part-time jobs alongside of my full-time job for quite some time. Now, my part-time, low paying jobs have evolved into one part-time job that I truly enjoy. I work for the University of Phoenix, teaching business classes both on campus and FlexNet, which is the online/campus blended modality. After teaching a number of both types of classes, I believe that the future rests firmly in online education. I do not presume to know in what format education will be delivered in the future, but I am sure that asynchronous learning will be part of the equation. 

A co-worker at our local campus mentioned that he was going back for his doctorate, and he told me that  I should, too. I was surprised about this comment, because earning a Ph.D. was a dream that I had for a long time. I had set the desire aside because of my busy schedule as a career person and mother, and I already knew how much work the MBA was trying to balance it all.

My friend told me about Northcentral University and was very excited about their program. He planted the seed. I knew that he was a busy person, and yet he found time to go back to school. Of course, my friend is a career educator, and I am not. I work at a “regular” job which is not remotely related to education.

I started looking at my options, especially financial and relational. 

  • Here I am working two jobs because my husband does not work (he is disabled) and we are in the process of getting through disability court – he has no benefits yet.
  • I have one daughter, just finished college, and a son about half-way through.
  • How much time will it involve? Just as the children begin to move out, my husband and I will have time together. Do I want to spend it studying?
  • We have bills just like everyone else, and I have been working diligently to pare them down. I do not want to have extreme bills that prevent retirement.
  • I am not a young woman: I am 47 years old. How much time will it take?
  • Is my mind sharp enough? Will I be out of my league?
  • Do I have something to add to the collective knowledge relating to business? Am I creative, observant and forward thinking? Or am I kidding myself?
  • What will my family, co-workers and friends say? Will they be supportive or will they understand my hunger?
  • How much is the cost, both in obvious and “hidden” fees such as books, computer, paper, etc.? Can we afford it financially?

The final question boiled down to this:

Is the total cost less than, equal to, or greater than the benefit received from earning a Ph.D.?

TC [ < or = >] Ph.D. benefit