Lifelong Learners Insights
Spreading the Technology Word
M.S. in Education > Doctor of Education
Kay Beggs is working harder, so students can work smarter.
In September 2007, Kay Beggs and the students in her Adobe Photoshop class held a workshop to teach the software program to art teachers across her South Carolina school district.
Beggs, who earned her M.S. in Education at Walden University and is a teacher at the G. Frank Russell Career and Technology Center in Greenwood, facilitated the workshop while her students demonstrated the graphic design program. “It was great to see them all collaborating in learning,” Beggs says. “The kids were excited to share what they’d learned with their teachers. And the teachers were very positive—they saw Photoshop as a technology tool that can be an extension of their teaching.”
Beggs is an avid believer in the value of computer technology in enhancing classroom learning—even for other teachers. “Technology provides the students a means of discovery, and can help kids pull knowledge together,” she says. For example, Beggs says using a program such as Microsoft Excel can make math relevant, and students can illustrate their understanding of a history lesson with a PowerPoint presentation. In contrast, she says, “Asking them to simply regurgitate isolated information is doing them a terrible injustice—it’s not preparing them for the real world.”
During her master’s program at Walden, Beggs was particularly struck by the understanding that—at all levels, all across the country—teachers are “all dealing with the same issues.” She explains: “The master’s really prepared me to think more globally about what teachers are doing in the classroom—how they’re assessing their students.” And she realized that with an Ed.D., specializing in Teacher Leadership, she could make an impact on a greater scale by helping other teachers integrate technology in the classroom.
Beggs says she returned to Walden for the Ed.D. in large part because of the “outstanding” faculty. “They’re there for you,” she says, “and they want to see you do well and make positive changes.” In addition, she says, “The curriculum is relevant to what I really need—we’re on the cutting edge of information. I have been so inspired.”
Currently, Beggs is beginning to research her doctoral study project, “Integrating Technology Across the Curriculum,” which will explore employment data of students from the Career Center where she works. She hopes her research “will show that these students have stayed in jobs longer, have gotten raises and promotions faster, as compared to students [from the school district] who have been strictly academic.” Beggs admits that she’s finding the research challenging. “There’s not a lot out there about how career and technology education classes are preparing students for the global economy.”
Since beginning her doctoral program, Beggs was named the 2005–2006 Teacher of the Year for the Greenwood School District. She also juggles an adjunct faculty position at Piedmont Technical College and teaches for the South Carolina Virtual School.
“Working three jobs and trying to get a doctorate has been absolutely insane,” Beggs says, laughing. Being a “kinesthetic learner” who learns best by doing, she finds the amount of reading challenging. Fortunately, her three children have been supportive throughout the process. For example, her 14-year-old daughter provides pep talks, helps with chores so Beggs can study, and even checks in to make sure Beggs is completing assignments. In addition, Beggs says, the director at her school has been “encouraging of everything new and innovative that I want to do.”
She cites her Walden experience as a model for the kind of collaborative, distance learning she’d like to offer. “I want to help more teachers online—not just in my district with workshops. I feel like there’s a real need. There’s so much information out there that we could be using.”
As she works to expand her sphere of influence, her own learning process will also continue. “The more I learn, the more I realize I don’t know,” says Beggs. “I don’t see myself ever stopping.”
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