My Academic Advising Independent Learning Plan


As I spend more time working with personalized learners through E3, I find there is a huge gap between high school and college in terms of adequate and personal advising. We have students in our program with very specific needs and goals who need expertise and advice from someone who knows them.  I want to fill that gap and help families navigate the many options available to them as their students complete high school requirements earlier and earlier. Although I am considering pursuing a Masters in Academic Advising from K-State, I do not feel that is the best use of my time and money right now. Instead, I have embarked on an independent learning project of my own to educate myself about the field of academic advising. (See- this personalized, independent learning thing works for adults too!)

Here are my recent steps:

  1. 100 Cups of Coffee – This is my variation on the concept for start-up businesses of meeting 100 people for coffee in order to launch your business. I am meeting with 100 people to discuss the career opportunities and education requirements in academic advising as well as learn about the day to day experiences in the field. (More on this to come- I need to request permission from the two folks I have already met with to mention them by name… and the two I meet with next week!)
  2. Volunteer/Intern – I have offered to donate 4 hours a week of my time to intern at two different schools. One is very excited about the possibilities of my ‘job shadow’ project, and the other does not really grasp how this can benefit them. (Discussions continue. Also something I will blog about once it becomes a reality.)
  3. Academic Advising Books – When I elected not to enroll in graduate study this semester, I had already researched assigned texts in order to calculate cost. Now, I am just reading through them… and paying attention! It’s amazing to me how differently I approach academic books when I am not under time pressure or “write a paper about this” pressure.
  4. Twitter for Academic Advising – I have started a list of higher education professionals in the field, and plan to spend time reading and interacting on Twitter. I was happy to see there are quite a influential folks using Twitter for professional development.
  5. NACADA Membership – I joined, and should start receiving their publications and other information. Not sure how much impact this will have on my learning, but I think it is an important step in being connected to the people and ideas that will make a difference in my journey.
  6. NACADA Region 10 Conference (May 2014) – I’ll be attending the conference in Jackson Hole, WY. Not gonna lie, this one sounds fabulous. These kinds of events are really important in the ed tech world, and I hope to see the same kinds of connections and learning happening at this conference.
  7. NACADA Region 10 Facebook Group – This group seems very active and helpful in sharing through the Facebook Group. In the past they have paired mentors with mentees within their group, and they assure me that they intend to offer that again in the future. Cool! Might just help with #10.
  8. YouTube Webinars – Amazingly, there are quite a few lengthy webinars specifically dedicated to academic advising on YouTube. I’m working my way through them and have created an Academic Advising PD playlist.
  9. COWY ListServ – It’s amazing to me that ListServs still exist in 2014. The last time I encountered one of these was decades ago… however, I hope that there will be helpful info shared through the COWY List Serve (COWY is the Colorado and Wyoming Academic Advising Association.)
  10. Find a Mentor – I’d like to work with a mentor or two in the field of academic advising. This could be via FaceTime or Skype or face to face. Not sure who, when, or how, but I trust that the above things will lead me to the right person.


What should I add to my plan? Do you have a book or video or conference suggestion for me? Do you know someone in northern Colorado who I should connect with over coffee? Know someone who would make a great mentor? Please comment. 

My Saturday- learning on the UNC campus while waiting for my son to finish the ACT
Last Saturday… learning on the UNC campus while waiting for my son to finish the ACT.

Open Master’s Framework

Credit: drouu on
Credit: drouu on

Three years ago, I tried to find a way to make a graduate education that would work for the system. I didn’t want to become a traditional teacher, so a traditional program was not an option. I wanted to become an expert in personalized and self-directed learning. I discovered very quickly that the education system frowns on this kind of creativity and outside-the-box thinking. Who would hire me without a teaching license? How does one interpret an innovative learning experience for a very traditional system? Would I forever be considered a non-certified minion? How would I gain the financial advantages of my increased expertise?

It was enough to make me leave the system altogether and continue learning on my own without a defined purpose. I spent part of a year in a private school where the experiential learning was invaluable. I spent another part of a year homeschooling using project based learning methods. I spent another part of a year learning about and using Colorado Calvert Academy (online charter school) for my own children. Which leads me to the present.

I am currently working in an innovative program that facilitates self-directed learning paths for students. I love it! It combines my passion for technology, information literacy, and self-directed education into one amazing experience. It has also reopened the worlds of Twitter (didn’t have much to say for a few years, quite honestly) and online learning for my own professional development. I’m taking a MOOC course. I’m building an online digital portfolio…. three places- since I’m not certain how long these providers will be around or which one will become the industry standard. Much of this I am doing because I need to experience it in order to help students navigate their educational path.

This time around, I’m approaching this a little differently. Rather than getting all “edupunk for hire”, I’m trying to exhibit one of the values I think I missed last time- to work within the system, but not cater to the system.  If we are telling students “yes” to alternative paths to education, we certainly should be telling professionals “yes”. As adults, do we really need someone else to ‘stamp’ our learning by paying a university to certify our work? When can learners just exhibit knowledge- similar to a competency based approach- to employers? Is there a less expensive, less invasive way to verify Master’s level work? What needs to change in our education system so that non-traditional students can breathe life into a system that desperately needs it? Do we hire them into charter schools or innovation zones? If a traditional school district wouldn’t hire based on a self-directed learning portfolio, who would?  What are my options?

Lots of questions. No answers. I am encouraged to see Jonathan’s work at Degree of Freedom (@degreeoffree) and Alan Webb’s through the Open Master’s group (@openmasters). I think these guys are on to something, and I look forward to seeing some new pathways forged for those of us seeking an alternative to traditional higher education. I think this article, The Owner and the Renter in Education, is a profound component of this open education equation.

These are the Master’s programs I am considering adapting. I do understand that I don’t know what I don’t know, and I would like to find an existing structure or two to create my Master’s framework. I want to have a well-rounded experience blended with a specialization in self-directed learning.

Any thoughts? Do you know of another innovative program I should review? Are you enrolled in one of these programs? Do you teach in one of them? I covet your feedback and thoughts. Please share. 

Book by 3: The Self-Directed Learning Handbook (#sdlchat)

self-directed-learning-handbook-maurice-gibbons-e-book-cover-artI am working my way through The Self-Directed Learning Handbook, ever so slowly…. because it is GOOD! I’m so excited about the ideas and concepts presented by Maurice Gibbons. Would you be interested in reading through it with me? You are invited to participate three ways over the next few months:

1. Participate in the Twitter hashtag chat (#sdlchat).

Simply read through one chapter a week using the calendar below and discuss your thoughts on Twitter by adding the #sdlchat hashtag to tag your tweets. Create a search column in your twitter client that is based on that hashtag so you can follow what others are saying. Discuss, share links, experiences, etc.

(Subscribe to the iCal feed here.)

2.  Join the 3 Google Hangouts.

I’ll be creating a Google Hangout each after weeks 3, 6, and 9 so we can discuss in vocal form. Please complete the poll to help me determine day/time for the Hangouts.

      • Link: TBD (announced here and on Twitter after week 2)
      • Dates: TBD

3. Meet with us in person in Colorado.

I’ll be scheduling a face-to-face book night for early December  where we can wrap up our learning. We could also stream this for those of you out of town. As the chat progresses, we will determine a location. If Denver is a more central location than Loveland, we will try that.

      • Date: early December
      • Location: TBD

My hope for this project is that we will have a strong core of professionals who are investigating self-directed learning who will continue this journey together after the book chat is over. I plan to have a weekly chat scheduled similar to #edchat with a specific question or topic each week directly related to self-directed learning. What do you think? Are you in? If so, please let me know in the comments which ways you will be participating.

Related Resources: