All Articles

A testament to the power and connection of online education

Author: Chad Sanborn | Image: Chad Sanborn

A testament to the power and connection of online education

Carrie Hillman’s journey as a Technology Integration Specialist with the Nevada, Iowa school district exemplifies the transformative power of online education, especially for those juggling professional duties and family responsibilities. A mother of two, Hillman took a leap into furthering her education with an online master’s in educational technology from Iowa State University—a decision that not only fit her busy schedule but also shaped her career in unexpected and fulfilling ways.

Online academic voyage forges impactful relationships

Hillman hadn’t imagined her online education would lead to such strong bonds. Despite the geographic distance between her and her classmates, Hillman says, “We became like a family,” emphasizing the unique bond that her cohort forged through shared academic and personal challenges. Hillman’s cohort became 13 comrades in the quest for higher education, offering an understanding and camaraderie that motivated Hillman throughout her program. Tools like the Canvas learning management system, Facebook Messenger, and Google Docs kept Hillman and her classmates tight-knit, allowing for the sort of natural, collaborative bond that typically takes shape within the physical environment of a university.

Hillman also found support from faculty in ways she had not anticipated in an online setting. Throughout her three-year online education voyage with Iowa State University’s School of Education, Hillman never felt adrift. “I felt comfortable reaching out to any of the professors at any time.” Importantly, her action research class, led by Dr. Crawford, still resonates in her daily work; she now applies the research methodologies to the district’s individual career development plans.

The future of education and technology integration

Transitioning from a classroom teacher role to an instructional technology specialist role, Hillman reflects on how the program exceeded her expectations, introducing her to the world of instructional design—a field she hadn’t envisioned herself needing, yet now finds indispensable.

As a pioneer in her role as Technology Integration Specialist, Hillman underscores the emerging need for educators skilled in technology. Her expertise has become increasingly valuable. With new computer science standards, K-12 education hints at a demand for dedicated computer science educators and technology integration specialists, a role she now embodies with confidence and pride.

A journey of growth amid challenges                

Reflecting on the complexities of being a working mom and a student, Hillman’s narrative is one of admirable determination and strategic time management. Late nights became productive periods, aligned with the stillness required to focus on her studies—evidence of the program’s adaptability to the unique rhythms of adult life.

A testament to online education’s impact

Hillman’s story is an indication of how online education can empower individuals like her to pivot careers, expand their impact, and connect deeply with peers despite geographical barriers. Iowa State’s program stands as an example of how well-crafted online education can not only match but exceed expectations, fulfilling the future needs of its students.

As education continues to evolve, stories like Hillman’s illuminate the potential within Iowa State’s online programs to foster growth, nurture connections, and prepare educators for a future where technology is an important part of daily learning.

Shape your future with flexible, convenient, high-quality education now

Iowa State’s online degrees and certificates enhance the quality of online learning for students. Be one of the many individuals reaping those benefits. Unlock your full potential through the transformative power of online education through Iowa State Online. Request more information about Iowa State Online courses and programs today.

Carrie Hillman