Melissa Hughes is an elementary school educator and web developer in the San Diego area. She recently attended the Computer Using Educators (CUE) conference in Palm Springs. Hear her comparison of on-line learning vs. the hands-on experience of DMA:
I have been an elementary educator for over ten years. This past year, I went on child-rearing leave from the classroom. I am concurrently using this sabbatical to earn an online masters degree in Educational Technology from San Diego State University. When it occurred to me that I was in the position to attend the annual CUE conference in Palm Springs, I jumped at the opportunity.
One of the very first details I noticed from the CUE schedule was the amount of training sessions hosted by Digital Media Academy. I had never heard of them, but was impressed by the session descriptions. One was an introduction to Dreamweaver. How timely since one of my recent masters courses was in web design. I recalled how much I enjoyed getting my first taste of Dreamweaver, yet frustrated that the online delivery method of that course had left me with more questions than answers. I had ended the semester having created my first website. However, it was all done by a written tutorial, so I didn’t feel like I had a firm understanding of what I had actually done! What if I wanted to revise my site? Customize it? The class never addressed updates or latest features in the program. Perhaps DMA would be able to clarify in three days what I had been struggling with understanding in three months.
Wow! What an understatement. Even though online learning may be the hot thing nowadays, there is something to be said about learning in a physical classroom. The teachers at DMA used their classrooms for just that: personal learning. They didn’t come across like tech geeks in teacher’s clothing. They didn’t talk down to you if you didn’t understand. Most of all, they were patient. The Dreamweaver session was not a lecture, but a hands-on workshop. The hour-long session wasn’t filled with presenter adlibs, but actual practice with the application. How often does one get to work with state-of-the-art equipment at a conference, for free?! Even the mini 20-minute sessions in the CUE exhibit hall were packed full of information. I walked away from their trainings feeling like I learned more there than I ever did in that college semester.
If or when I decide to go back into the classroom, I know I will be going back energized by what I learned at CUE 2009. It certainly will not be my last CUE conference. For me, it is only the beginning with Digital Media Academy. I am anxious to take their summer course on web design in San Diego. Through it, I hope to help my husband’s small graphics business expand his services. Down the road, I one day plan to open an after-school technology center for elementary school students. Either way, DMA has laid yet another foundation for my ongoing study of technology in the 21st century.
Elementary School Teacher
San Diego, CA