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E-Learning and Instructional Support

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Employee takes online classes for professional growth

Fri Jul 31, 2020 at 12:48 PM

Cissie Patterson, a training coordinator in University Human Resources, has always thought about going back to school to obtain her master’s degree, but the timing was never right. Now, after going through a divorce and with teenage children who need her less, she decided to take the opportunity to do something for herself. She enrolled in the online Higher Education Leadership program through the School of Education and Human Services. 

“I process tuition assistance applications for staff and faculty. I was processing everyone else’s goals and it got under my skin. I wanted to go back so I decided to enroll,” said Patterson.  “I wanted to prove to myself that I can do it.”

Patterson has an undergraduate degree in political science from Northern Michigan University. She wanted to get into school administration, but after she graduated, she was told those positions were typically held by those with teaching experience. Patterson said the degree she earned and the experience she had weren’t leading her toward her dream career, but she didn’t have the opportunity to go back to school. 

She has always worked in human resources training at colleges and universities, but she wants to learn more about the leadership that goes into running a university. 

“Since OU offered the online higher education leadership degree, I decided to do it. I don’t know that I could go back to school in a traditional classroom setting,” said Patterson. With teens at home, she needs to be available for them in the evening, but has time to focus on online classes. “Online is the way to go because I can pick my schedule and ‘go’ when it’s convenient for me.”

While Patterson doesn’t intend to leave higher education, she would like the opportunity to advance in her career. 

“Employees are more effective in a position that we feel passionate about and in which we want to excel,” said Patterson. While she said she enjoys her department and her colleagues, she knows she can do more. A master’s degree will help her obtain it. 

“When I started off in college, I’m not sure the Internet was even invented yet. I did have one semi-hybrid class where the professor had testing through a computer. I hated it. I shied away from online learning after that because it was the most stressful way of testing that I had ever been though,” said Patterson. 

However, through her experience as a human resources trainer and looking into online programs for her master’s degree, she learned that a lot had changed when it came to online learning. 

Online classes offered a convenience for Patterson and also a unique way to interact with her peers. As a self-described introvert, Patterson said she doesn’t need a social aspect of being in the classroom, but the course is still designed to promote participation, response and sharing. 

“I knew that if and when I ever went back to school, it would be through an online program. If I wasn’t accepted into the online higher education, I wouldn’t be going back. I would probably never finish my master’s,” said Patterson. 

If you are considering a return to the classroom and an online program appeals to you, check out what Oakland University has to offer on our Online Programs webpage