Posts tagged ‘TSTC’

Virtual classrooms rock!


Girlstart’s very own Interim Executive Director Julie Shannan recently graduated from Texas State Technical College with a certificate in Digital Media- making her the 1st student to graduate with course work done 100% in a virtual classroom. This is a fantastic achievement not just for the ever-changing world of formal education but for Girlstart. As the Technology & Program Coordinator, education via virtual worlds is something that I really embrace because of the opportunities open source and free virtual words provide us in offering creative, advanced curriculum for the girls we serve. Virtual worlds give us access to sophisticated free tools that allow us to offer our programs at much lower costs, without decreasing the quality of our curriculum.

The virtual world of education has a lot of minds to change, as people seem to think it is trying to act as a substitute for real life experience. With many of my family members and friends pursuing virtual degrees while maintaining challenging and rewarding careers, I can say that virtual degrees haven’t been a substitute but a supplement to real life-allowing working professionals to develop the skills needed for their organizations and personal career goals. This is especially beneficial for non-profit professionals, most of whom it seems tend to stay in the non-profit industry and choose to develop skills that will help them better serve their constituents (or at least the fabulous non profit techies I know in Austin).

Another wide complaint is that perhaps the online structure isn’t rigorous enough to compete with regular universities. Again, as a techie, I have yet to attend a university that offered the innovative technology courses online universities have been offering since the beginning. Many major universities are just now starting to weave technology coursework into more humanities/communication fields of study-something online universities are better equipped to do across all their course offerings.

After attending graduate school, I figured, I don’t want to be a professor, so there’s no point in continuing school and obtaining my PHd. However, the wide range of innovative programs offered at online universities have made me reconsider-if as a non profit techie, I could get a certification in Network Administration, develop my graphic design skills or add a new language to my tech repertoire, while still working and serving the Austin Community, why wouldn’t I?

Congratulations Julie on your awesome achievement!


June 8, 2009 at 9:05 pm Leave a comment

Do I really need another Life?

I have a hard enough time keeping up with my real life, but recently found out I needed another life to make my real life easier! It all started when our team at Girlstart developed a Summer Academy in Second Life, where high school girls created a virtual global awareness event online at Texas State Technical College

avatarHonestly, I thought that would be the first and last time for me in this virtual game. However, Texas State Technical College was offering an online certification course in Adobe Creative Suite CS3, all online, all in Second Life. I jumped at the opportunity to learn Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign, and Flash in the comfort of my living room. 

Second Life has been a wonderful learning tool! Interactive multi-media presentations, guest speakers from around the globe, and communicating with my classmates and professors “face to face” has been amazing! It is also a really cheap alternative to conference travel as well as exhibits. 

My experiences have been somewhat entertaining as well! Like the time my professor held me after class and told me I needed a makeover, then took me shopping in second life. Or the time I was giving my final presentation in front of visiting professors and guests and I clicked the wrong button and lost all my clothes! Then my professor said-, “Julie, quick, let’s go upstairs and get you dressed!”.  I have never had a professor do that before! First time for everything!

Besides the high learning curve and horrible fashion (still waiting on Nordstrom to open up a store), Second Life has a lot to offer! Especially visualizing math, science, engineering, physics and technology.

January 22, 2009 at 10:02 pm Leave a comment

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