To blog or not to blog has been a question on my mind for some time. Obviously, the desire to maintain a blog has won out with this as my inaugural post. My mood strikes me to give a little background to review my interest in distance education, leading up to a second entry that will acknowledge the Distance Education Technology Symposium I attended this past weekend.

My interest in open learning can be traced back to grades 5 and 6 in elementary school with an open concept school and relatively little structure to the day. We were given assignments for the week, there were periodic sessions with the teacher, and there were no classroom walls except dividers. It has been many years, but I vividly recall the opportunity to use Fridays as reading days, lounging on big cushions in the library, if the work was complete.

After grade 12 in Ontario, I entered the workforce as a Police Cadet with the Metropolitan Toronto Police. Four years later, then in Edmonton, I commenced Athabasca University’s Bachelor of Administration Degree through distance learning. It was called correspondence at the time, but it was truly much more due to the dedicated tutor assigned for each course. I can’t believe the time it took to complete, with typical procrastination and life happenings, but I never intended to rush through. Thirteen years later, in 1979, I received my degree.

In 1997, I commenced the Master of Distance Education (MDE) Degree, also through Athabasca University (AU). At the time, I supervised field placement students while working as an investigator in a provincial government department. I was being encouraged to teach at their college, so I agreed to and commenced graduate studies just prior. Still working full-time, the MDE was likely an obvious choice due to the flexibility of study. However, the course of studies was motivating, and along the path I also received an Advanced Graduate Diploma in Distance Education (Technology) from AU and a Certificate in Adult and Continuing Education from the University of Alberta. Needless to say, distance education and technology became of great interest to me, and I was able to incorporate some of this with my traditional classroom based students.

Although now captivated by my business as an insurance and financial advisor, I maintain my passion for distance education. I had the pleasure of teaching an online course (on two occasions) and an online workshop for the University of Calgary, and I just completed teaching a second course, Emergency Planning for Industry. As I go forward, I am happy to be an advisor and an educator.

Comments and questions are certainly invited, as I enter the blogosphere.

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