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MSU Abbot Hall signBy this point, you likely are aware that I am currently a Technology Director at a charter school in North Carolina (Roxboro Community School). Additionally, I am rapidly approaching the conclusion of fulfilling a lifelong dream of graduating from Michigan State University with a Master of Arts in Educational Technology degree.  One of the questions that I most get asked is:  what’s next? There are three areas that I plan to pursue.  Two of them are more urgent, while the other is currently an ember that time will need to stoke into a fire.  First, I plan on studying how to set up, maintain, and troubleshoot a physical network (LAN) and wireless network.  The next is similar.  I will learn how to set up and maintain servers.  Finally, I will look into furthering my education by pursuing a doctorate in Educational Technology (or something similar). My current position has three main parts (Professional Development/Technology resource for the staff, maintain the network/servers, and procure and maintain appropriate equipment for our educational environment).  I have a grasp on the first and the third, but I am woefully unprepared for the second.  That is the driving force for my first two next steps. The third is a continuation of my love of learning and my desire to equip people to effectively use technology in educational settings.

19-inch rackmount Ethernet switches and patch panelsWith this degree from Michigan State and prior knowledge, I have raised to the level of good to great in two-thirds of my current occupation (Being a resource for teachers in regards to technology usage in the classroom and overseeing the acquisition and upkeep of a variety of hardware and software for the school).  Sadly, I am sort of terrible at the other third which is maintaining the infrastructure of the school in terms of the physical network (switches, cabling, and access points).  With this weakness in mind, my first step is going to be to learn more about the technical side of my current occupation.  In order to do this, I plan on enrolling in Western Governor’s University to pursue an IT degree in Network Operations and Security.  I chose them because of cost and the speed with which I can finish (in as little as six months). I have about a year before Will (the 18 year old tech genius that currently keeps the network up and running at RCS) moves on and I will have to hold the fort on my own.

Windows Server 2012 logo

Another area that I plan to pursue is a deeper understanding of all the facets of Windows Server 2012 and HyperV.  While the physical aspects of the network take precedence (mainly because once the servers are set there isn’t a whole lot that typically breaks), I still want to know the ins and outs of Active Directory and Group Policy, DNS, DHCP, Mail, and the other tools in Windows Server that we rely on.  HyperV is the way that we create and maintain virtual servers, so that we can have one main physical server and one backup server that can fulfill the roles of multiple servers (we have eight virtual servers).  I, however, don’t really know what all of them do or how to manipulate them to make them serve their functions better.  My starting place for learning about Server 2012 and HyperV is Udemy, which is a professional development website that among other things has courses about these two topics.  Once I have exhausted those resources, I hope to participate in a “bootcamp” where I can get hands-on experience while learning from a professional.  Additionally, there will be some information about this that pops up during my coursework at Western Governor’s University.

North Carolina State University Athletic logoFinally, I have had a slow burning desire to get a Ph.D. for a while now.  First, I thought it would be in a field of science when I was dreaming of college.  Then it was in Theology as I started seminary.  Now, it is in educational technology (in particular the ways that it can be used to address the learning gap for underserved populations within our schools).  This is the first time I still wanted to pursue a topic after I finished the first round of learning.  As noted before, this is not a right now learning goal, but it is something that is growing within me.  Of course, the dream would be to pursue this at Michigan State, but I have looked at NC State (40 minutes away) and Arizona State, as well.  I have often said when the topic of a Ph.D. has arisen that “I have taken care of business in my master’s program so that I have the option floating out there if the opportunity arises.”

As you can see, I don’t have small dreams.  There are people whose entire careers revolve around setting up physical LANs and others that focus solely on servers.  I am basically tasked with doing three full-time jobs at Roxboro Community School, and I plan on working as hard as I can to be an expert at all of them.  Then, maybe I’ll knock on MSU’s door again to try for a new adventure.