Anne Contreras is working toward her Master of Education degree with a concentration in Curriculum and Instruction through the University of San Diego’s 100% online program. She also works full time as a 12th-grade teacher in a career technical education program and as an instructor at a local community college. “I work a lot. There is no way I could go to an on-site campus to continue my education because I teach during the evenings,” she said when asked why she decided to get her M.Ed. degree online through USD.
So how does she balance it all — working two jobs as an educator and working toward her master’s degree? And what’s student life like at USD as an online student? Anne agreed to show us what one week in USD’s M.Ed. online program looks like and how she arranges her time to make it all work.
Student Life at the University of San Diego
Tuesday: The Week is Presented
The USD M.Ed. school week begins on Tuesday. This is the day when the week ahead is delivered to us by the instructor. Because there is no live instruction, you can log in at any time to view the presentation that the teacher has prepared and that will kick off the week. Although the teaching is not synchronous, if we have questions or comments, we can contact the instructor through the discussion forum or via email and he or she almost always responds immediately. I typically set aside 2-4 hours to go through the week’s module overview and digest the information.
Wednesday/Thursday: Study and Discussion
Wednesday through Sunday, I dedicate to working through the assignments: readings, videos on YouTube and discussions on Blackboard. I usually spend 2-3 hours every day to study. All of our assignments and lessons are very applicable to the work I am currently doing in the classroom. This week, for example, we have to put together a digital lesson plan.
Assignments page example:
Readings and presentation page example:
An important part of our weekly assignments is our group discussions. We are typically required to post a minimum of two comments in a given discussion thread each week. The nice thing about getting an M.Ed. online, at least with USD, is getting to take part in the discussion forum. It’s a great way to learn from each other in a virtual setting and stimulate that in-person discussion we might otherwise be having were we in a traditional classroom. There are teachers from all across the country with varying specializations and experiences. I love to get input and perspective from the other teachers in the program. For me, since I work with older high school students, I love hearing from the elementary teachers because it gives me insight into how these kids started out.
Discussion forum example:
Friday: Instructor Active on Discussion Board
The instructor is present and active in the discussion board several times a week in order to help propel the discussion and promote critical thinking. This is a good check in point for me and allows me the opportunity to ensure I really understand the material I have been reading all week.
Saturday/Sunday: Study and Discussion Continued; Get Started on Next Week
I usually am still working through and finishing up my assignments over the weekend. However, if you are able to complete all of your weekly assignments early by Saturday or Sunday and want to get started on the next lesson or as we call it in the program, module, you can. The following week’s module is typically posted three days prior to the start of the week so that you can get a head start if you have completed your week’s assignments. It’s a nice way to add more flexibility to the program.
Monday: Assignments Due
Assignments are due every Monday. Having assignments due on Monday is nice because it gives us the weekend to work on and complete any work we didn’t get to during the week.
I chose the University of San Diego because I had such a great experience with obtaining my teaching credential with them and because they have a tremendous reputation, are accredited, are a Catholic university and they offered a completely flexible online program that allowed me to fit graduate school into my busy schedule.
Does student life at the University of San Diego sound intriguing? If you think you are ready to get your Master’s degree online and are interested in learning more about the University of San Diego’s Master of Education degree with specializations in STEAM, Curriculum & Instruction; Literacy & Digital Learning, Inclusive Learning and School Leadership, contact an admissions specialist.