The last time I went to a college classroom Ricky Martin’s “Livin’ La Vida Loca” was the number one song, Wayne Gretzky was still playing hockey and “The Matrix” was big at the box office. It had been 16-plus years since I stepped into a college classroom when I considered returning. While it may not seem that long ago, my life today is unrecognizable in comparison to the four years in the late 90’s when I was an undergraduate student.
Not only has technology changed radically in that timespan, so has my life. I’m married with two kids and have a full-time job. With work and family obligations, I wanted to invest in my future without having to completely change my life around. Pursuing my communications graduate degree online was the way to go.
Addressing Online Learning Concerns
Before I started the MS in Communication graduate program at Purdue, I spoke with lots of friends and co-workers who pursued undergraduate and graduate degrees online. Opinions varied among them.
- Some praised the convenience of going to school online.
- But many expressed aggravation in trying to use the platforms their school counted on to deliver training material.
As someone who works full-time and has had numerous negative experiences with online training, I was worried how I was going to adjust to this new environment. In my mind, college was about going to class, listening to a professor and having discussions with fellow classmates. It was about being in a physical building and interacting with people face-to-face. I was nervous that navigating through online learning would seem like “The Matrix.”
Online Learning Success With Engage’s Learning Management System
Once I got my hands on Engage— Purdue’s learning management system — my thoughts on higher education truly changed. Engage is easy to navigate with a basic working knowledge of technology. Submitting discussion posts, and assignments or questions to the instructor are a breeze.
I’ve been using the Engage platform since January, and I now realize I don’t need to physically be in class when I can be a virtual classroom. The weekly discussion boards are enlightening. They supplement the reading and build on the learning I have done each week. I can have deep, meaningful communications, including debates.
If I have questions, the instructors are quick to respond either through Engage or by email.
The best part is that I can “engage” from the convenience of my home, a Starbucks or lying on the beach in Hawaii (which I was able to do a few times). All I (and you) need is your device, a Wi-Fi connection and Engage.
Purdue’s online learning management system has truly shown me the future and how traditional education isn’t the only way to learn.
It reminds me every day that while I may be a student; I’m no longer living in the 90s. It seems as if we’re living in a crazy time where technology allows us to be a student anywhere in the world, or as Ricky Martin would say, “Livin’ La Vida Loca.”
Jeffrey Lacap is a student in Purdue’s online Master of Science in Communication degree program. The program can be completed in just 20 months and covers numerous topics critical for advancement in the communication industry, including crisis communication, social media engagement, focus group planning and implementation, survey design and survey analysis, public relations theory, professional writing, and communication ethics.
About the Author
Jeffrey Lacap has worked in Communications for more than 17-plus years. He graduated from the University of Scranton with a bachelor’s degree in English Literature in 1999. After college, he worked as an Assistant Editor for Nonwovens Magazine and its website in Ramsey, New Jersey. In 2000, he worked in New York City as an Associate Editor for Sporting Goods Business Magazine and its website. In April, 2001, he joined the U.S. Army as a Broadcast Journalist.
His assignments included Fort Huachuca, Arizona; American Forces Network, Korea; and the Defense Information School on Fort Meade, Maryland. Mr. Lacap left the military as an Army Staff Sergeant in September 2008. After his military career, he became a Media Relations Specialist at Northrop Grumman and worked as a radio producer for WBAL 1090AM in Baltimore, Maryland. Currently, he works for the Department of Defense as a Broadcast Video Team Lead at the Defense Information School. He is currently enrolled in the MS in Communication program at Purdue University.
He’s been married to his wife Connie for more than six years and they have two children, Emily and Andrew. They live in Columbia, Maryland.
*The views and opinions expressed are of the author and do not represent the Brian Lamb School of Communication.