When the COVID-19 pandemic hit last year, Jamie Duddy found herself in unfamiliar territory as an educator.
"St. Joseph School District, where I work, wanted to offer a virtual option for students and families," she said. "As a new person in the district, I went over to the Virtual Academy, a K-12 school where I teach second grade.
"I wanted more education in the technology field, and I have always loved tech. I have been to several technology conferences, but I wanted to know more about tech to better teach my students."
So, Duddy returned to school and completed the online Graduate Certificate in Instructional Technology program at Northwest Missouri State University in August 2021.
"The assistant superintendent here, Dr. Marlie Williams, is an adjunct professor at Northwest," she said. "When this program came up, she told me to check it out. I wasn't really looking, but I decided to do it because it was only four classes. Why not?"
The program worked out well for Duddy, as she learned about her new teaching role while she became more familiar with educational technology in the 21st century. She found the information she was learning useful. It informed the way she taught or helped her refine her skills.
"The program was fantastic and I could do it on my own time," she said.
It's a Digital World
Duddy grew up in Osceola, Iowa, and knew from a young age that she wanted to be a teacher.
"I had a lot of incredible educators growing up," she said. "I had some that were not incredible, too. I wanted to make sure that I was the kind of person my students need, like the teachers who were so amazing for me."
Earning a graduate certificate was not a difficult decision for Duddy, who also completed a bachelor's degree in early childhood and elementary education at Northwest in December 2009. She participated in the Bearcat Marching Band as an undergrad.
She added a master's degree in instructional design with an emphasis on writing from Western Governors University in 2018. She also has a graduate certificate in writing from Missouri Western State University.
"I am going to start a part-time job as a program mentor at WGU soon," she said. "I will have students whom I will keep on the right path for graduation. It will be more on the technology side, logging information into the system and making sure my students are doing the right thing."
CSIS 44650: Building a Virtual Learning Environment was Duddy's favorite course in the online Graduate Certificate in Instructional Technology program.
"I liked that course the most because that's what I do," she said. "I learned a lot of things that I didn't know, which surprised me."
The other three courses in the short program are: CSIS 44610: Integrating the Technology Curriculum, CSIS 44626: Developing Multimedia Systems and CSIS 44635: Designing Instructional Systems.
The More the Merrier
Although Duddy had not planned to earn a second graduate certificate, she is happy to have invested the time and energy. Returning to Northwest was an added bonus.
"Especially in this virtual world, any time a teacher can home in on their craft and make it better for their students, that's a leap they should take," she said. "I am starting a Girls Who Code Club here at my school."
Duddy, who enjoys reading and watching hockey in her free time and spending time with her husband, Bryan, is always happy to add to her knowledge base.
"My parents are excited about me earning a graduate certificate because they never got a chance to go to college," she said. "My husband rolls his eyes because I already have so much schooling, but he supports my educational journey. He always supports learning and education since he is a teacher as well."
Certificate in hand, Duddy enjoys implementing the knowledge she has gained and seeing the students respond to learning about the ever-changing world of technology.
"If you have a tech element within your job, these four courses are definitely worth your while," she said. "Even better, if you don't have your master's degree yet, the certificate funnels into a master's degree curriculum that you can continue if you want to. It was a great experience."
Familiar territory feels pretty good.
Have a question or concern about this article? Please contact us.