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Master of Education in Educational Technology
University of Texas @ Brownsville
Reflection Letter
My e-Portfolio, Leonard E. Hudson
Addressed to the Educational Technology Teaching Staff;

At the beginning of this program, two and one half years ago, I was excited about what the
Educational Technology program had to offer. Now as the end of the program draws near I am
even more excited about what I can share with the world.

At the beginning of the program I was concerned that the focus of this program is on the pre-K-16
environment. It did not take long to realize that the principles and processes taught were universally
applicable. I realized that the fire service today is where the public schools and universities were
ten or more years ago.
The realization that the lessons learned by the education world can be taught to the fire service is
exciting. At the start of the program in spring 2008 I took EDTC 6320 with Dr. Butler and EDCI
6300 with Dr. Sullivan. Dr. Butler exposed me to ideas on how technology can be used in
education. Breaking away from the idea that education is only found in schools it was clear to me
that the same technology concepts were transferrable to workforce education in the fire service.

Dr. Sullivan’s EDCI 6300 re-introduced me to research, but with a twist. The experience I had with
research was as an undergraduate at St. Edward’s University during the Research in Critical
Missions course. The focus of the research then was on criminal justice issues and we didn’t have
digital libraries! Fast forward 20 years and Dr. Sullivan led me through the process of writing a
literature review and staying organized when conducting research. Dr. Sullivan did more than teach
me how to research. He brought to this class a curiosity about things, then in a sweet move he
taught the second half of curiosity and that is how to satisfy it, with research. After graduation I will
start a research project that will explore if fire service workforce continuing education programs
can benefit from online training.

After the first semester I was ready to move forward with graduate school, but that had to wait until
spring 2009. That semester was the introduction to learning theory and Adobe Flash®. EDCI 6300
was the first time I was exposed to learning theories in the academic setting. Prior to then I had
been an instructor in the military but the formal education did not include theory, only practice. The
course showed me how to apply learning theories to e-learning.

Being a techno-geek made EDTC 6351, also taken in spring 2009, fun. The skills learned in that
class included project management and using Adobe Flash®. Some of the skills used in Flash®
can be applied to other programs like Camtasia® and Captivate®. I have since moved to primarily
using Adobe Captivate®. Since Flash® is the basis of Captivate® I better understand the inner
workings of the application.

During the summer of 2009 Dr. Corbeil’s EDTC 6325 brought the network world to my home. The
concepts learned in his class were incorporated in my home. To this day my son and I have a
home server from which we host one of our websites and a wireless network with shared folders
with permissions. Although I don’t expect to be in a position to manage networks, the ability to
understand how they work and speak intelligently about them to professional network
administrators is priceless.

This program began to gel for me during the fall of 2009 in EDTC 6321 and EDTC 6323 with Dr.
Corbeil and Dr. Pan. In hindsight it was not a good idea to take both classes in the same
semester. That revelation came to me after the first week. But being stubborn I finished the
semester. The course I created was started in EDTC 6321 while simultaneously completed in
EDTC 6323. The analysis and creation process was absolutely excellent. The design of instruction
is the most appealing part of the program and it was emphasized in these two classes. One
important feature of an asynchronous e-class is that the instruction stays on topic and doesn’t
wander off into war story land!

Instructional design continued in the e-Learning capstone course EDTC 6358 during spring 2010.
Working with a geographically distant client was a new experience. The online collaboration set it
apart from preparing classes for supervisors. Allowing time during planning for collaboration,
especially when the two groups are in different time zones, is critical to completing the project on
schedule.

In spring 2010 along with EDTC 6358 I took EDTC 6340. This course is part of the Master
Technology Teacher certification program and focuses on the K-12 environment. The information
Dr. Butler shared with the class can be applied to the fire service. The technology challenges are
biggest in the school districts with the least money or those that have an administration that does
not see the value in technology. The same is true in the fire service. Many fire departments are
from areas where funding is tight and many times come from donations. The second challenge,
like in the public schools some fire chiefs or administrators do not understand what the proper use
of technology can do in terms of efficiency and improved quality of education. These departments
have to rely on other methods of getting technology which can include the products presented by
Dr. Butler.

During the summer of 2010 Dr. Cornell’s course EDCI 6336 highlighted cultural consideration
when teaching courses on the Internet to students, some of whom may be in different countries. Our
sister fire department is the Saltillo Fire Department (SFD) in Saltillo, Mexico. The Austin Fire
Department has provided equipment, training, and managed an exchange program with the SFD
for over 20 years. At present the SFD does not have a very strong Internet presence. The concepts
learned in Dr. Cornell’s course will put us on the right path to ensuring we are conscious of cultural
influences when designing online content for SFD.

The last semester in the Educational Technology program is in fall 2010. The courses taken this
semester are EDTC 6332 and a course through the University of Texas TeleCampus at UT Tyler in
the Human Resources Development program, HRD 5336, Adult Learning.

The motivation behind my taking the Adult Learning course is my intention to work with the fire
service to move workforce education into the 21st Century. Although the educational technology
program prepared me for designing instruction I felt that this course would round out my
development.

The capstone course, EDTC 6332, was the capstone course for the Educational Technology
master’s degree. The practicum project addresses an issue that the fire service has yet to
address. That is learning how to prepare courses for online asynchronous presentation on the
Internet. It has been accepted by many departments that providing classes to the workforce via the
Internet is both a money saver and improves response service to the community by not assembling
emergency units outside their response territory for training. The next logical step is to educate fire
service instructors how to develop training objects that not only meet the legal requirements of
continuing education but also engage and educate the workforce.

How will I use the knowledge that was passed on to me? Over the last several years I have
bounced around many ideas and hatched one plan after another. In the end the future is pretty
much the same as what I wrote in my Program of Study. The fire service is currently debating and
developing a professional education program. The question posed is how someone becomes a
fire chief. A clear path exists to become a physician, lawyer, and college professor. There is no
clear path to becoming a fire chief. The same holds true in fire service workforce education. The
service lacks a universally clear path for education and rising in the ranks. That is a disservice to
the workforce as a whole. Through articles in trade journals, fire service convention presentations,
and especially as a speaker/trainer at instructor development seminars I plan to help bring the fire
service workforce education program into the 21st century.

Change is never easy. To complicate things more, the fire service is steeped in tradition. Some of
these traditions are based on the fact “that it has always been done this way.” The fire department
that I am a part of is making changes in not only the rhetoric but also in its actions.

The fire department uses the Austin Community College’s Blackboard® to present continuing
education classes to the workforce. It is my hope to assist the department in creating a workforce
education program that will be a model for the rest of the fire service.

Looking over the graduate school experience I feel that the professors have given much of
themselves. They never simply graded papers and gave generic feedback but rather made a
genuine contribution in knowledge and time. Their efforts showed me new ways to see the world.

In closing, I would like to extend a Texas sized thank you to the professors of the graduate
Educational Technology Department. As a parent of two children I learned not to have or even
express a favorite, I will stick to this in regard to my professors. That being said, I must give a
special thank you to Dr. Pan, my advisor. His patience and positive can-do attitude reminded me
that there is a life outside graduate school.  Oh, and his advice that a happy wife makes for a
happy life is spot on.

Sincerely,

Leonard Hudson
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