How I Googled My Way to an MBA from Western Governors University… in Six Months!

by Randy Fairfield, 3/8/18

So, yeah, this happened. I’ve mostly kept quiet about my studies because I didn’t want to give off the impression that I was leaving education for business. So, here’s an interview with myself to clarify:

So why did you get an MBA in the first place?

There are a lot of reasons I decided to pursue this degree! The situation would have to be right, but I would be interested in working remotely for an edtech startup at some point, and I’m hoping that adding an MBA to my teaching experience, consulting experience, edtech certifications, and Master’s Degree in Teaching and Learning will make me an attractive candidate. I love learning, and as I’ve been haphazardly picking up all kinds of business skills through my consultancy, the timing just seemed right for me to dive in and learn more!

What led you to Western Governors University?

There were a lot of things that attracted me to WGU. I loved the competency-based model, which allowed me to speed through courses I was already knowledgeable in and spend more time and energy on concepts I still needed to learn. Additionally, I’ve been working on developing online edtech courses for teachers, and I thought going through some online coursework myself would give me perspective as I try to make my courses as meaningful and accessible as possible. I also liked that WGU assessed tuition based on the amount of time spent in the program rather than charging per credit. Because I busted my butt and got all my coursework done inside of six months, my total costs for the program were just under $3,400.

Wait, you got an MBA inside of six months for $3,400? Sounds fishy.

I was admittedly suspicious when I first heard about WGU, but I did my homework and learned that WGU is regionally accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities. Regional accreditation is the highest form of accreditation, so that put me at ease. While I was able to complete my program inside of six months, that is generally not true for most people going through the program. Having already had a strong background in academic writing as well as a schedule that permitted me to devote a sizable portion of time to my coursework helped me fast track things quite a bit.

So how exactly did you “Google your way to an MBA?”

I started with the assumption that there would be very little knowledge contained within the course materials provided by WGU that could also not be found on the web, so I set out to prove a point. Using how to search Google and make meaning of your findings is an incredibly important skill, and for the most part this skill was all I needed to help me learn the concepts I needed to demonstrate competency in. I’m amazed at how often people ask me questions that have answers that are just a Google search away, and I try to refrain from being snarky and referring them to LMGTFY. 🙂

All that said, there is value in having someone curate and organize course materials. Early on in my program, I probably spent more time than I needed to doing Google searches for content that was just a few clicks away in the course materials—but I was out to prove a point, remember! As a started to butt up against the six-month deadline, I will admit that I accessed the course materials and even reached out to a few course mentors to help accelerate my learning. Generally, though, I’m intrinsically motivated to figure stuff out and solve problems on my own, so I tried to go that route as much as possible.

I don’t know, I’m not sure I’m really buying into the whole thing, man.

I recognize that, for some, this blog post might diminish the value of the degree I just earned. If I’m an employer and someone is telling me they Googled their way to an MBA at some university I’ve never heard of, and that they did it inside of six months—well, I’m thinking diploma mill. I get it.

To that, all I can say is my program is fully accredited, I worked my butt off, and I learned a lot along the way—not just about business administration, but about myself. There are several skills and personal qualities I demonstrated throughout the course of my program that I think a potential future employer would find valuable. Believe me, what I did was no easy feat—but I’m the type of guy that likes to take on a good challenge. I have no problem setting ambitious goals and working independently to meet them. Sure, I don’t want to spend the rest of my life getting up super early and (sometimes) staying up late, but I am willing to bust my butt to meet goals and deadlines if need be.

All right, I think I get it now. Way to go, man! So now what?

To be honest, I’m still not entirely sure where all of this is leading! I know one thing is for sure: I am not going to just sit back and rest on my laurels. I expect great things of myself, and right now I am really focused on my health! I’ve lost almost twenty pounds since Thanksgiving, and I’m looking forward to losing at least that much more by June.

I might do a little job hunting here and there, but I am really intrigued by the idea of finding more ways to help educators get high quality professional development online. I am stubborn to a fault about figuring stuff out on my own, but teachers are busy, busy people, and they don’t always have the time to be messing around with stuff. When I first dove into edtech, I took a half-time contract and spent a lot of time holed up in a public library cubby just figuring stuff out. Most teachers don’t have that luxury, and most are not given nearly enough professional development to help them learn to leverage technology in ways that lead to student-centered outcomes.

In the absence of another opportunity that really blows my mind and aligns with my mission and vision, I’m going to keep plugging away at building online courses. If you’ve read this far and are interested, keep up with my progress by subscribing to my newsletter! Additionally, if you’ve got a super cool opportunity you want to share with me, feel free to reach out and let me know what you’re thinking.


Project Based Awesome Goes Live

by Randy Fairfield, 9/18/17

Chris Butler (@TechTeachTravel) and I both serve as Technology/Instructional Coaches in the Richland School District. Chris is an awesome guy. He and I both shared a desire to become Google for Education Certified Trainers and we both got it done around the same time. We have talked about how becoming trainers gives us nothing more than a badge if we don’t do anything with it, and I’ve been excited to watch Chris take his badge and his passion for project-based learning and turn it into something that will benefit educators and students alike.

Chris and a fellow educator, Erin Dickey (@ogybuns) launched Project Based Awesome a few months back, so to be fair this is old news. They are starting out with a series of insightful blog posts and podcasts to tackle a number of issues related to educators—particularly those trying to lead project-based learning in their classrooms. You can check out Chris and Erin’s work here:


Caitlin Makes Google Certified Educator, Level 2

by Randy Fairfield, 8/19/17

So I’ve had the privilege of serving as the Technology/Instructional Coach at the middle school where Caitlin (@icedtearex) serves as an ELA teacher. Caitlin was the first teacher to really get gung ho about the Google Suite for Education, and it’s been awesome to watch it transform her classroom. I’m really excited to she that she’s obtained this certification as it’s really a validation of a lot of the great work Caitlin has done in her classroom!


Caitlin Becomes a Flipgrid Certified Educator

By Randy Fairfield, 6/26/17

Caitlin (@icedtearex) caught the #flipgridfever before the hashtag blew up! Caitlin serves as an ELA teacher in the middle school where I serve as a Technology/Instructional Coach, and her enthusiasm for incorporating technology into her lessons in student-centered ways has been contagious! It has been a great privilege to be able to collaborate with such a phenomenal teacher.


Randy Named Keynote Speaker at NCESD Summit

by Randy Fairfield, 5/20/17

Over one hundred educators will be gathering in Wenatchee, WA on 6/20/17 for the NCESD Summit featuring Google for Education. Kristina Wambold (@MrsWambold) has granted me the privilege of giving the keynote at the event! The title of the keynote is “Be Irreplaceable”, and I will be sharing about the coming age of automation and the far-reaching implications it will have on the field of education. If you’re interested in attending the summit, you can find more information if you click here!


Randy Becomes Hapara Certified Champion Trainer in First Cohort

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by Randy Fairfield, 3/30/17

When I first saw what Hapara had to offer, me knee-jerk reaction was that it seemed like little more than big brother, but for school. However, since the school district I work for adopted the program, I decided to go ahead and give Hapara a second glace. Boy am I glad that I did!

Going through the certified educator and trainer coursework was a lot of work, but it was good work. What I found was that Hapara could be used as a powerful tool to facilitate a number of best practices. Yes, teachers can use the Highlights feature to play big brother. However, showing them how to use the tool to facilitate conversations about digital citizenship instead can lead to really positive outcomes for kids.

If you’re interested in learning more about Hapara and becoming certified yourself, check out the “get certified” section of their website. If you’re so inclined, you can click here to see the profiles of the other fine educators that made through the first cohort of trainers with me!


Chris Makes Google for Education Certified Trainer

by Randy Fairfield, 3/22/17

So happy for Chris (@TechTeachTravel)! He and I both set some goals to become Google for Education Certified Trainers, and we made it! Here’s looking forward to doing many trainings with Chris in the future, including the ones we have coming up at NCCE!

Chris will be running a hands-on session titled, “Taking Assessment Further: Student Creation and Screencasts.” I’ll be running a few sessions at the Google Summit, including “How to Leverage the G Suite in High Poverty Schools” as well as “Google Sites for Everyone!”. Hope to see you there!


Join Randy for a Webinar on Authentic Writing and Literacy!

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by Randy Fairfield, 2/15/17

Join me on 2/22/17 at 1:30 PST as I partner with Hapara to host a webinar on Authentic Writing and Literacy! For more information, click here!

If you missed the webinar, you can still check out in the Hapara webinar archives.


Randy Becomes a Hapara Certified Educator

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by Randy Fairfield, 1/24/17

Over the past couple of months, I have been participating in a cohort of educators going through Hapara’s Certified Educator program. It has been a pleasure to learn more about the platform, and the facilitators were great! Here’s a special thanks to Evyan Wagner (@evyan_of_hapara), Heather Panitch (@heatherpanitch), Eleni Kyritsis (@misskyritsis), and Amy Harris (@MsharrisEDU) for doing a great job with facilitation.

I am looking forward to going through their certified trainer program and learning more about what I can do to spread the Hapara love! One of the things I appreciated most was that our facilitators emphasized that Hapara is not a “do everything” tool, but rather can be used in a complementary role alongside other tools when it comes to supporting student-centered outcomes. Innovating and imagining where Hapara fits in as a tool for facilitating best practices such as those outlined in John Hattie’s Visible Learning has a lot been fun—particularly exploring other public Hapara Workspaces and seeing how other educators are using the platform.


Use of Google Sites and Forms at Carmichael Middle School Recognized in Google Transformation Center

by Randy Fairfield, 12/28/16

Our use of Google Sites, Forms, and social media was recognized by the Google Transformation Center as a transformative practice. Since switching from our old website platform, engaging parents and students with Google Forms for voting, and promoting the input we sought with social media, we have seen the number of visits to our website increase by 500%!


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