It’s been a while since I checked in on my blog, and there’s a very good reason for that. I’ve been in school! I’m about to graduate with a Masters Degree in Education – Technology in Education, to be precise. What is the story behind this?
I have been a freelance video producer since I left my career in advertising about fifteen years ago. No offense to advertising, but this transition was one of the most rewarding changes I ever made (and I’ve made quite a few of those). There was always something hollow at the core of advertising for me. The reputation it has for being superficial, fast-paced and cutthroat is well-earned, and just didn’t suit my personality at all. I wanted it to suit me because I had always thought I wanted to be in either the movie business or in advertising, with a secret longing to be a talk show host.
After leaving a position at one of the biggest ad agencies on the East Coast, I knew it was time to get back to my roots and do something that was rewarding. I bought a high definition video camera, considered new technology at the time, and went into business as a freelance video producer. My niche was to work with professional speakers, shooting and editing their marketing material; and this proved to be a very successful lane for me, at the time. I’m a self-starter, so I brushed up on all my editing skills, went online and taught myself some new ones. I used a platform called Lynda.com to learn Final Cut Pro, Motion, Premiere Pro and After Effects. These are the tools I needed to be competitive as a video producer. I really only knew how to edit on celluloid from my university days as a film student. (To get a sense at to how editing has changed over the years, you can check out this concise and informative blog.)
Shooting speakers was fun, and it even rekindled my dream of becoming a talk show host! It was also rewarding and a little bit like advertising. I learned a lot from the different speakers I worked with, because each of them had a unique topic or concentration. Mostly, the topics centered on corporate interests, but sometimes I got a chance to record a lecture about engineering or science. In particular, I loved working with Karen McCullough, Dayna Steele (now running for congress!), and Craig Karges. Slowly, as I became more successful, I started working with other businesses like PR firms and small advertising shops. Then, one day, I got a call to do some work for a company called STEMscopes.
OK, now this is where sound effects come in and you hear a car come to a screeching halt. STEMscopes was an incredible experience. All of a sudden, a whole new world opened up to me. This was a small business at the time, made up of science teachers, tech people and a small sales department. They worked together to create an online science curriculum for grades K through 12 in Texas. The people working here were amazing, most of them teachers, lots of them students right out of college (at the time, the company was part of Rice University). This was the environment in which I knew that I belonged. I began to see my skills as a storyteller and a video producer being used to help young people learn. This seemed so much more important to me than selling something or embellishing on someone’s qualities for their website. At STEMscopes, I had the opportunity to help shape the way children learn, and to help them be more successful students!
This was all happening at a time when incredible growth in the education world was also occurring. Technology was weaving its way into the classroom, just as it had done in many other areas of our lives. Teachers were finding new ways to teach, exploring ideas and systems online and getting support from unlikely places all over the globe. E-Learning was beginning to take ahold, and STEMscopes was a pioneer in this new concept called the “blended learning.” Things like a “flipped classroom” began making sense to teachers. This was a new idea where the educator videotaped their lectures so that students could watch them at home and spend their time in class doing hands-on projects. In fact, one project that I worked on was based on a grant for two Rice University professors to develop a flipped classroom for their engineering department. This was cutting edge stuff!
As STEMscopes grew, so did the need for more video on the website. We were producing several videos for each lesson, and these were all based on the Texas Science standards, or TEKS. When STEMscopes began moving into other states, we had to adapt everything for other state’s standards, and eventually for the Next Generation Science Standards. I was offered a full-time position, and I jumped at the opportunity without hesitation. Never had a career move felt more natural than this one.
There was a small issue, however, and that was my limited knowledge of pedagogy and new technologies in teaching. I felt under-qualified sometimes, especially when discussing concepts and ideas with other teachers. For me, this was the inspiration to go back and get my Masters in Education. I didn’t have a clue what to expect, and to be honest, my mind was blown. Education and Technology are experiencing such rapid change right now that they need people like me! Not many people I know go back to school for a new career at my age, but I’ve always seen myself as a lifelong learner. What could be more exciting?
Who knows, maybe when I’m in my eighties or nineties I’ll finally get a chance to have my own talk show!