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

by Randy Fairfield, 3/7/17

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.

Randy Fairfield is a Technology/Instructional Coach in the Richland School District in Eastern Washington. He is also a Google for Education Certified Trainer, Edmodo Certified Trainer and Hapara Certified Champion Trainer.

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