A training director with the U.S. Coast Guard, Terry Bickham earned a master’s degree in educational technology from SDSU.
Now he plans to earn a doctorate in the same course of study through a new joint program offered by SDSU and USD.
Bickham currently lives in Danville, Calif., but is planning to move back to San Diego in March to pursue the doctorate that wasn’t available before.
While most people think a degree in this field would be used for classrooms in public schools or universities, Bickham found that his studies have just as much importance in the commercial sector.
“Most of my work has been in developing training programs in technical fields,” he said. “What I want to do is work in the commercial field with companies that are building and putting on training programs in technology.”
– Training Programs
May Have Limits
Some companies are dissatisfied with various aspects of training programs, said Bickham, who has worked in the field for about 12 years. In some cases, employees can come back from a program without being able to apply what they have learned in the workplace. He wants to change that.
“Time spent in training is time spent off the line. Hopefully, when (companies) send (employees) away, they are going to come back well-prepared to do the job,” he said.
With that in mind, Bickham will be working full time as a training manager at a software company in Del Mar while he pursues his studies on a part-time basis.
This is the type of student SDSU and USD expect will enroll in the program, which is the first of its kind locally.
The program, which begins in the fall, will focus on two areas , educational technology, and teaching and learning with an emphasis on literacy.
Educational technology focuses on the uses and impact of technology in learning and teaching.
– Literacy Will
Be One Focus
The second area concentrates on literacy, how language is developed, how people use language, and the creation of new ideas through communication.
“Our doctorate is designed as explorations of timely and important areas in education,” according to Marlowe Berg, director of the doctorate in education and SDSU professor.
“We are training people who are going to come out with a set of cutting-edge skills in areas that are changing quite quickly,” said Fred Galloway, associate dean of USD and director of doctoral studies.
Right now, there is strong demand for experts in these areas, Galloway added.
“I think there is really a need for training folks at the doctoral level in these two fields,” he said.
– Impacts Extend
While the benefits of this program may extend into the business community, local schools and educators may be impacted most of all.
Both Berg and Galloway agree the program is distinctive.
“There really isn’t a program like ours currently available to educators in the public schools or in the private schools for that matter,” Berg said.
Also, other local programs do not really concentrate on the areas of educational technology and teaching and learning, they said.
“We are trying to create a concept of a cohort, meaning that students will come together and will be encouraged to work together,” Berg said.
The program also aims to have students exchange ideas with one another.
“There isn’t a substitution for creative problem-solving, and that occurs when people have opportunities to exchange ideas,” she said.
– Designed For
Berg said the program differs from others because it is designed for educators who are trying to reach leadership positions.
“Education is an extremely important issue right now and in order for changes to occur, we need very informed leaders,” Berg said.
The faculty of both schools also had a hand in shaping the program.
“We want to make this program as innovative as we can, but the best way to do that is to let the faculty provide input,” Galloway said.
The program also offers several other advantages to students.
The first, Galloway said, is the “program builds on the strengths, resources and capabilities” of two local schools.
– Two Universities
Faculty members of both universities will teach the courses and classes will be available at each campus. Students will have the added benefit of gaining varying perspectives from different faculties, he said.
The lessons will also be taught with a problem-based approach instead of just lectures, Berg said.
Secondly, the program is local. Since it is anticipated that most students will be local professionals, participants will have a short drive to the campus, he said.
Lastly, the cost of the program should be about $26,000 to $27,000. Galloway said students can’t really find doctoral programs at that price and it is a “great educational bargain.”
Since the program is designed with working teachers in mind, it is expected most students will be working full time and going to school part time.
Recognizing many students work and have families, Galloway said this is a “very serious commitment” for students.
Classes will be available in the afternoon and evening and it is anticipated part-time students could complete the 60-unit doctorate in four or five years, he said.