Home > Distance Education, Global Leadership > The Story of a Distance Learner

The Story of a Distance Learner

Do you want to be more professionally successful? Do you want to advance your career? As individuals living and working in the Information/Digital Age, we need to set ourselves up for success. One option that you may want to consider is capitalizing on educational opportunities. Distance Learning (DL) may be a great option that would ensure success and advance your career, while not having to sacrifice being a busy parent, spouse, and business professional.

Many academics and thought leaders have written about distance learning and encourage individuals to consider DL programs that deliver education in a non-traditional classroom setting. As a mother, wife, and business professional, I am a prime example that distance learning can be used as a tool to enhance careers.

I have worked virtually for an executive education firm as a telecommuter for 10 years, including three of those years overseas while my husband was stationed abroad. Due to my work experience, I gained a unique understanding of the benefits as well as the challenges of virtual teams and distance learning. Although I was familiar communicating via email and Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP), obtaining a master’s degree on-line was still scary.

I had been considering obtaining a master’s degree for years; however, I could never find the time to drive to and attend classes. I knew that with working full-time and raising three kids (while my husband was serving a tour in Baghdad), the only way I was ever going to get a master’s degree was through a distance learning program. I chose the Master of Science in Global Leadership (MSGL) program at the University of San Diego because it was a perfect fit for me. I could do it on-line which allowed me to be at home with my kids and it offered three curriculum components I was interested in: (1) Leadership Development; (2) International Business; and (3) Project Management.

I started the program with a biased opinion that I would be “forgotten” by my classmates and professors since the school is located on the West coast and I was on the East coast. However, this was not the case. I was pleasantly surprised by the information sharing and discussion threads using Web/CT Blackboard technology, as well as with other technologies that were available. I could watch videos of my professors lecturing, interact with classmates using email and VoIP, and collaborate with teammates on papers using collaboration applications. My professors were readily available when I had questions and my teammates ensured I was included on discussions, decisions, and brainstorming sessions.

Upon entering the MSGL program, my primary goal was to be “learner-centric” versus “grade-centric.” I wanted to do well and make good grades but, more importantly, I wanted to learn as much as possible with the intentions of actually implementing the knowledge gained in the workplace. We each have a choice of learning for simply gaining knowledge or learning for using knowledge. I am confident in saying that I met my goals. The MSGL program gave me the knowledge to provide value to every task.

Since graduation, I now provide more value to my company because I use project management on a daily basis as well as use leadership development methodologies and theories in order to provide senior executives and high-potential managers with a globally relevant framework for improving performance, thinking, communication, and decision making. Furthermore, the most valuable aspect of choosing a distance learning program was that I could obtain a degree from across the country from out of my home, while not having to sacrifice being a busy mother, wife, and business professional.

The biggest misconception about distance learning programs is that on-line schools do not provide as good of an education as traditional schools. The truth is that distance learning programs not only allow students to learn from traditional classroom materials – books, journals, case studies, etc. – but also teaches students to interact using multimedia software and other technologies which help students develop additional skills and advance their careers.

Being a distance learner was a wonderful experience and enhanced my professional life because it gave me the opportunity to learn and collaborate in virtual environments as well as forced me to stay up to date with technology. Distance learning provided the capability to learn what I needed to know, whenever I needed to know it, without having to wait for a professor in a classroom. I believe distance learning is a tool for life-long continuous learning at all levels of an organization and could be a great option for those who don’t want to leave their homes to go to a classroom.

Parents, spouses, and professionals who are considering pursuing the MSGL program on-line should not let fear of the unknown get in the way of achieving that goal. Anybody can do it! Distance learning is a fantastic tool that provides an opportunity for work/life balance. We are all fortunate to live in a world where technology gives each of us the capability to learn and grow professionally, while raising a family.

Lane Fabby, MS (USD, 2008) works virtually for consulting firm Frew & Associates, which provides professional development services to the private and public sectors.  She is a proud military spouse and currently resides in Lakeland, Tennessee with her husband, Rick Fabby, and their three children.

  1. No comments yet.
  1. No trackbacks yet.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: