Monthly Archives: July 2011

You know you’re an adult student when…you have mastered the skill of quiet typing!

What is quiet typing? Quiet typing is that thing you do when you wake up at 5am in a hotel room that you’re sharing with your kids and you want to get as much of your homework done as possible while they are still sleeping 8-P

Two of the kids and I spent Saturday on the Wilmington Riverfront as volunteers for the Kalmar Nyckel Foundation’s first Pirate Day. Aye!

The Kalmar Nyckel Approaching Lewes

After a long and glorious day out in the sun decorating foam swords and building wooden boats with hundreds of small and adorable little children, we took advantage of an online discount and stayed at a local hotel. At 5am the next morning, there I was, working my mad quiet typing skills to outline a plan for data collection, evaluation, and revisions on my adolescent suicide prevention skills lesson for INSYS415.

As I sat there in the bright morning sunlight that was coming in through the window and hitting the desk, I started to think about how grateful I am that there are ways and means for me to make all of this work – being a mom, a student, a volunteer…

I’ve read textbooks and articles in typical and unusual places – in cars, in lobbies, in hallways, and even in hotel bathrooms. Hey, don’t knock it. There’s a door and a light and that trumps a dark, somewhat creepy, smelly hallway for reading any night! I’ve read with a flashlight, with my phone, with a nightlight, with the interior light of the car, and with my keen new Kindle lighted cover! I have read for class while sitting at a bar with earplugs and chaperoning my kids at a concert in a dark downtown club.  I even finished my final paper for my undergraduate degree while in the car on the way to a long weekend of celebrating at Rehoboth Beach by using an inverter to power my HP laptop and a VW access point to get on the Internet. Yes, I am also thankful for willing drivers <3

Summer 2011

The Kalmar Nyckel Docked at Lewes, DE

Life IS good! I bet there are some even wilder things that we adult learners do to make it all work. If you have any stories to share, I would love to hear them :-)


Why be an attack student?

So I’m a graduate student. What now?

I’m in love with studying adult education and distance education. My mission is to be an advocate for adult learners, especially adult learners studying online. Never in my life have I had such a gratifying and joyous experience as when I help someone else successfully navigate a few steps further down their path.

I love research. Well, reading published works, at least – plus the few experiences that I have had proposing and conducting my own research. As far as parity goes, this really is an area that we need to work on. Online students don’t have the opportunities to participate outside of the formal course curriculum that are automatically available to students on campus. Somebody, somewhere, thought that all we would want was a degree and that is certainly true for some adult learners already working in their field. But, oh how they underestimated the rest of us!!

We want our grad school applications to be competitive – maybe even go on to earn a doctorate?! We want to be active participants in our learning experiences?! We want academic AND social interaction?! We want to fundraise for the largest student-run philanthropic effort?! We want to show our school spirit?! We want to be involved?!  We want to make a difference?! Whodda thunk it?? Honestly, I never doubted us for a minute :-)

Unfortunately, the research does little to support us and our position. Could that be because, even though they’re letting us through the doors – both real and virtual – the culture of higher education remains largely unchanged? How can someone know what they are missing if they have never had the opportunity to experience it! I am astonished by research asking students to rate a variety of “services” where they are comparing social support to the ability to pay a bill and register for classes! Of course, we have to register and pay our bill to actually get through the door in the first place! Really?? I am aghast! Oy, don’t even get me started on that…

So, here I am – perhaps similar to you – at a crossroads. Behind me I see twenty years of mothering and working as an administrator in the service and hospitality industries. When I look ahead, I am astonished at all the interesting options that could unfold. Even with my grades, enthusiasm, and charm, however, I could not talk anyone into allowing me to TA an online course or intern as an online adult learner liaison and at no cost to the U. Some days, I feel like the in-between area where I now stand resembles the Grand Canyon…

Somebody asked me why be an attack student. Did that  really convey how I want to be perceived by the outside world? In two words, HELL YES!! What’s that old saying about women who behave rarely making history? For those adult students working toward change in their own institutions, I’m sure we will spend some time here talking about being tactful and navigating a political bureaucracy. After all, no matter where you are and what you’re doing, if you want to get things done, you have to educate yourself and plan your attack ;-)

Seriously, though, when I was working with a variety of words to give my blog a name, I realized how cliché they all sounded. EDUC84LIFE. blech. Since I did not want my blog to sound like marketing material, I fell back on the sign hanging prominently over my desk at home. My mom gave it to me when I was working on my undergraduate degree. It simply says…


Attack Student

Apparently she knows me better than I thought ;-)

Day 1

It hardly seems fair to begin this blog without providing a few bits of background information. Even food at the grocery store comes with a label to let you know what you are consuming, so this seems like the very least that I can do when asking you to consider the value of my thoughts here. Or you could just pretend that you’re shopping for grapes and try one from the top before you buy the whole package :-)

I first considered a blog when Dean L. made the suggestion to me at graduation last May. To say I was flattered that he actually believed I had worthwhile thoughts to share with living beings beyond my cats would be an understatement. By the way, I am not certain of blog etiquette, so I am referring to him as Dean L. to avoid infringing on his privacy without naming him via an impersonal and unfriendly acronym. Dean L. is a man and an educator that I admire and I will not reduce him to a bunch of letters! Unless, of course, he asks me to do so. So, why has a year gone by? Well, there were the typical time issues – or simple procrastination – if you will. *sigh* To be honest, I have lots of doubts about whether or not what is rolling around in my head will be of use to anyone else. Well, when I was a kid, my mother used to tell me that I would never know if I didn’t try. So, here goes…

Around 2007, I hatched a plan. I was going back to our local community college to complete a degree in education that I had abandoned twenty years earlier. *voila – insert magic wand sound here* Mission accomplished in 2008. I turned 40 the spring before I graduated with my first bachelor’s degree – the culmination of twenty years of learning from life and three years of college classes. Along the way, I learned much more (especially about myself) than I ever expected! I also met many other adult learners with stories much more inspiring than my own – some of them overcoming seemingly insurmountable obstacles to earn a college degree. Working with them to improve our learning experiences at a variety of levels soon became my mission. And now, here I am – a former psychology major turned adult education and distance education enthusiast.

I plan to use this space to discuss topics related to and accumulate resources for supporting adult students, whether they study on campus or online. Expect occasional conversations on striking a balance for working adult students and their families. Also certain to pop up with some level of frequency will be references to research on building online and on-campus learning communities and anything else intent on engagement and improving the adult learner experience.

On this journey, I know that I will learn more about myself while I figure out new ways to support adult learners. If you are still reading this, thanks for hanging in there. I promise it will get better.