Catherine Sverko

Master of Education Technology, MET Graduating May 2017

Why did you choose to study your program?

I chose to pursue my master's degree but spent a lot of time deciding which area to study: leadership, curriculum, behaviour, etc. My dilemma was there were many programs to choose from but none really inspired me. It took a lot of personal reflection to realize that my hesitation was linked to the fact that I did not want to just get a Masters for the sake of getting a Masters. I wanted to learn and grow as a result of the program. After more reflection, I identified technology as a real area of weakness in my teaching. I was both scared and excited to start the Master of Education Technology (MET) program. There were so many questions: What will I learn? How does an online program work? Have I been a teacher for so long that I have forgotten how to be a student? (I have been a classroom teacher for 26 years, a lot of my colleagues thought I was crazy to pursue a Masters when I was so close to retirement. Many wondered aloud... "Why bother?") I could not be happier that I did bother! I am revitalized and ready to not only change the way I teach but also hopefully lead the way and show others that change isn't scary but rather super exciting.

Why did you choose UBC?

I chose UBC because it offered the MET degree. It is a rare program that not only offers an exceptional learning experience but such a diverse group of professors and students. I was intrigued by a fully online program (and scared) but it was necessary for my personal situation. On a separate note, I envisioned a program that I did readings and submitted assignments and wrote tests. I expected it to be a lonely and isolated experience; that could not be further from the truth. In a baptism by fire, I learned to navigate discussion boards and work in online groups (groups that often had students who spanned provinces, countries, time zones and languages, not to mention differing areas of expertise and experience). I would recommend UBC and its MET program to anyone, anywhere, at any point in their career.

Is there anything you’d like to share?—Something amazing you’ve done? Challenges you’ve overcome? Quirky thing you’d like to share?

Honestly, everyone who completes MET is amazing and everyone has their own challenges to overcome. The quirkiest part of this submission was wondering if someone who has been teaching for 26 years could be considered a rising star?

What are the most valuable things you have learned?

I learned how to appreciate others point of view. Listening and learning from their unique perspectives, I was constantly reminded of how diverse our colleagues are, and more importantly, how diverse our students are.. I loved that there were students who embraced new ideas but also that were those who provided a different perspective and questioned if we looked to change for the sake of change. Professionally, if not for MET I would never have been exposed to Makerspaces. I learned from an amazing maker, Trish Roffey, who introduced me to the wonderful world of making and although our project was completed months ago, we continue to work on the website with Janelle Therien. (It is worth noting here that Janelle and Trish live and work in Edmonton and I am the Niagara Region of Ontario). I also developed a love for digital storytelling. This interest led to the development of two further websites (all websites are linked through my home website mentioned below) the first is Digital Storytelling for all and the second is Digital Storytelling with special populations. Digital storytelling is a powerful tool for everyone but perhaps none so important as our special populations (those with developmental delays/autism, the chronically ill, new immigrants). Digital Storytelling provides a vehicle for them to share their voice. Next, I learned that we must teach our students to CODE, CODE, CODE. I was terrified of the word code and never thought I would understand it enough to teach it, but I can! Code is the new language we need to teach to all our students. Finally, and most importantly, I learned that we must develop and nurture in our students a desire to learn, explore, dream and communicate! The world has changed too much for us to continue teaching in antiquated ways. Problem-based learning through exploration and an understanding that failure is a tool we learn from will be essential elements of my classroom.

What are your goals for the future–immediate? Long-term?

My immediate goals include implementing a makerspace club at my school. In my class, I will introduce problem-based learning, code and digital storytelling. I hope through leading by example, I will inspire others to embrace technology in the classroom and most importantly for my colleagues to see that technology is not about changing how we deliver our program but technology is the program. My next goal is to provide in-servicing to other teachers on makerspaces, coding and digital storytelling. I would also like to present to our board the emergent technology program implemented at the Edmonton Catholic schools and hopefully implement it here in Niagara. Finally, I continue to mull over the idea of further pursuing my education.

How do you hope to make a difference in our world?

I hope to make a difference by creating makers and coders who can move forward, dream big, not be afraid of failure and finally improve the lives of others. I want to share what I have learned with other educators who may feel ill prepared to use technology in the classroom. I want to help them feel comfortable exploring technology with their students. Finally, I hope to bring the power of digital storytelling to those in our society who may be marginalized (the immigrant, the ill, the homeless, the developmentally delayed), to provide them with a voice.

What advice would you give a student considering your field of study?

Go for it! It will be challenging and scary but also inspirational and exciting. I would tell them that Educational Technology is not about how we deliver old programs rather it is a dynamic new program in itself.

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