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Reflecting on my personal journey through the realms of learning and teaching, I find myself deeply contemplating the direction in which online education is heading. The pursuit of formal education is often driven by two primary motivations: a profound love for learning and the practical need to showcase competence through official credentials. My boundless enthusiasm for acquiring knowledge contrasts sharply with the pragmatic aspect of career progression, which necessitates obtaining a degree relevant to my field beyond just having a master's in Curriculum and Teaching. This necessity reflects the changing dynamics of professional growth, emphasizing the importance of continuous education and the adaptation to new standards, especially in areas like Instructional Design.

Competency-based education (CBE) has risen as a pivotal response to these shifting requirements. Institutions such as Western Governors University have been at the forefront, advocating for CBE by acknowledging work and life experiences, thus providing personalized educational trajectories that enable learners to advance at their own pace. This model's effectiveness is exemplified by stories like that of an individual completing a Master of Science in Curriculum and Instruction at Western Governors University in an impressively short span, underscoring the impact and efficiency of competency-based education (CBE Life By Justin, 2020).

The core appeal of CBE lies in its adaptability and emphasis on applicable skills, ensuring that graduates are not merely holders of degrees but are also equipped with competencies that prepare them for the workforce. This educational approach makes higher learning more accessible and suited to the unique needs of each learner. Furthermore, the potential incorporation of generative artificial intelligence into CBE could significantly transform the landscape of online education. By enabling personalized learning experiences through advanced technologies and analytics, AI has the capacity to increase student engagement and motivation markedly.

However, the integration of AI in education also necessitates a reassessment of competency evaluation methods. Moving away from traditional examination formats, there's an increasing demand for assessments that mirror real-world scenarios in all disciplines. This shift could see the adoption of practical workshops and project-based evaluations that more accurately reflect an individual's ability to apply theoretical knowledge and skills in practical settings.

Looking forward, the evolution of CBE and online education is likely to embrace blended learning experiences more comprehensively. Despite the current dominance of asynchronous learning methods in CBE, integrating synchronous interactions could significantly enhance the educational experience by reintroducing the vital element of human interaction. Such developments hint at a future where online education adopts a more integrated approach to teaching and learning, combining the best of both digital and traditional pedagogical methods.

As we peer into the future, the amalgamation of competency-based education, technological advancements, and innovative teaching strategies presents a bright prospect for the realm of online teaching and learning. The increasing popularity of certification programs and on-the-job training further solidifies CBE's role as a crucial component of the educational landscape's future, signaling a shift towards more dynamic, accessible, and personalized learning experiences.


CBE Life By Justin. (2020, December 16). I Did It! I Finished the Masters in Under 6 Months (1 Term)! | Western Governors University. [Video]. YouTube.

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I'm currently delving into all of Tara Brabazon's audiobooks, and her insights are proving to be enlightening and transformative. In "12 Rules for (Academic) Life," Brabazon delivers a compelling critique on the stagnant state of Cultural Studies, pinpointing how the field seems anchored in a 1990s mindset. This observation resonated with me, especially after moving away from Bowling Green State University's pop culture program to focus on education. Brabazon articulates this stagnation so effectively; it's a revelation. Furthermore, she stresses the importance of reverence to education studies training and stresses continued education (degrees, certificates, and micro-credentials), something I have seen people I respect ask on academic Twitter if they should do. Tara explains that being an expert does not make one a good teacher.

Moreover, her ability to deconstruct binaries and weave her narrative with research, particularly in dismantling figures like Jordan Peterson, is masterful. She positions him far from the intellectual pedestal some might place him on, making her arguments accessible even to those outside the academic sphere. This approach broadens her reach and makes her work an essential read—or listen—for anyone, perhaps even serving as an eye-opening Christmas gift for Peterson's apologists.

"The Three Wise Monkeys of Research" stands out as a testament to Brabazon's elegant thought process on the art of research. It addresses a crucial gap in academia—the lack of proper research training for students, often compounded by inadequate supervisor guidance. Brabazon simplifies the daunting research process into manageable steps, offering a methodology and inspiration. It's a beacon for anyone overwhelmed by their projects, reminding us that compartmentalizing complex tasks can make the academic journey more navigable.

"Comma" is particularly noteworthy for those in or considering a doctoral path, as well as for supervisors and advisors. It skillfully breaks down the doctoral experience into digestible segments, offering much-needed structure and support.

I'm eager to explore "Know What You Do Not Know" and "The Pernicious Ph.D. Supervisor" next. Brabazon's work is a treasure trove of insights for anyone involved in academia, providing not just critiques but also practical guidance and inspiration for navigating the challenges of academic life.

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July 17th, 2020

Around 7 PM yesterday (July 16th, 2020), I saw a call to join Brian D. Earp in an experiment where you step away from social media, and the news for seven days. The purpose? To see if your mental health improves. I have been quite restless lately with the start of my low-residency doctorate program looming over me. I have also been mentally cluttered with the constant updates on twitter, fights with people who believe wearing a mask is a liberty issue on Facebook, and the continual pumping of news articles about how the world is ending into my Reddit feed.

I start my doctoral program on Monday, July 20th, and I want to start this program clear-headed and in a better place than when I started and ended my master's degree, so I decided to do it. This experiment calls for me to virtually transport myself back to how I lived in 2005 a year before joining my first social media website, which yes was myspace. After using that for a couple of years I became an early adopter of Twitter; I had my first account in 2009 (which I deleted but not before I amassed over 1000 followers) I then rejoined a couple of months later in 2011. In those early days, I never thought it would end up being what it is now. Back then, twitter handle (now CW seed) had giveaways. I won a Rockville CA teeshirt … that sadly didn't fit. Rockville CA was a drama web series set at a club that featured indie bands on the now-defunct platform. I also won a DVD of the first season of Nurse Jackie. I think that was an HBO give away, but I am not sure it's been so long.

I used and still use social media quite a bit; in fact, it is why I moved to Los Angeles a year after I graduated high school. You see, I was myspace "friends" with Ryan Wise of the now-defunct Big Fantastic. They created the first Daytime Emmy nominated web series. Being a fearless 18-year old I reached out to him upon exchanging messages with him he told me if you want to work with us, you have to move to LA. So three months later, I did just that. I picked up and moved to LA to be an actor. After moving out to Los Angeles, I was invited to Ryan's house for The Comedy Carhole, a speakeasy he and his roommates hosted. I was able to audition for a commercial they were shooting in Spokane, Washington, which I did not get. Still, I found myself hanging out with quite a few rising web celebs at the time. There is a whole story of how I went from wanting to be an actor to being in academia. I won't bore you, but know there isn't much of a difference between the two careers; one judges you for what you can do with your body, and the other judges you for what you can do with your mind.

I am digressing, the main point is I am an avid user, in fact, I think I am slightly addicted. I am constantly checking Facebook, Reddit, and Twitter and, to a lesser extent, Instagram. It takes up a lot of my time and mental energy. For some reason, I can't pull up my screen time as I deleted all social media apps from my phone, and now they are not showing up in my history but reviewing my Youtube usage, I may have an issue with that as well.

This experiment has already boosted my activity. It is noon, and I woke up, played with my dog, picked up my coffee at Starbucks, did an hourlong workout, went to the pharmacy, went to two stores to try to find Clorox wipes sadly with no luck, and read a few chapters of a book.

Since COVID has hit I have been taking it quite easy. Usually by noon on what is now a typical day I have picked up my coffee and gotten in a walk or watched a couple of hours of TV (based on the day) and played on my phone for a few more hours that is it. I think I accomplished all this because I am not wasting time on social media, and it doesn't hurt that I got a decent night's sleep, and so I have energy, and I am very mindful. I have noticed some phantom pains. Upon waking up, I picked up my phone to check to see if I got any messages, comments, or likes and had to resort to checking my email, which was all spam.

This week-long experiment will push me to be more productive and more present as I don't readily have an escape at the tip of my fingers. I also find this an exercise in Will. If I have been using social media mostly daily for over a decade with maybe one or two-day breaks, can I make it an entire seven days without it? Only time will tell, but I am posting this blog so that I can track my journey.

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