I’m having a little mental dilemma that I can’t seem to work myself out of, and I’m hoping you can help:

Have you ever felt like you were in the right place at the right time? And by being in that right place in the right time, you totally changed the course of your life or career?

Well, I’ve had quite a few of those experiences lately:

One was moving to KL and finding out that just in the year I arrived, a nearby school, ISKL, was starting an Educational Leadership certificate cohort through SUNY Buffalo that would take two years (the length of my contract, and the length of time I ended up staying in Malaysia). Going through those course changed the way I teach, and eventually led to my second example here.

My second “right place, right time” experience was actually being online at the same time as Justin Medved was writing an e-mail about the availability of a certain 21st Century Literacy Specialist position to the NextGen Teachers group and starting a very quick dialog that resulted in a trip to Bangkok 24 hours later, job interview 48 hours later, and position offered and accepted a week later.

So, you can see how I might be inclined to trust the “right place + right time = just do it” equation.

Here’s my latest:

ISKL (quite a leader in the whole PD department, as you can tell) is now, in January 2008, starting an Ed.D. program through NOVA Southeastern University with an actual cohort in KL (the professors will actually teach on site at ISKL).

Interestingly (as you begin to watch the fates align) my best friend, and educational technology superstar, Lisa, is also completing a Ph.D. program through NOVA (she works at Yale and lives in New Haven, CT). Lisa has been pushing me to do this Ph.D. program since she started. I’ve successfully been able to postpone the whole seven-years-of-my-life commitment thing by explaining that Florida is much too far for me to fly to several times a year. Not only could I not afford it, but I certainly don’t have that many school holidays that I could find my way to Florida in February, July, and November – not possible.

Now, ironically, almost the exact same program (except for the Ed.D. vs. Ph.D. debate) is being offered in KL. A mere 2 hour flight away. A mere 2 hour flight away that usually costs about US$50 roundtrip on the fabulous AirAsia. A mere 2 hour flight away that usually costs about US$50 roundtrip on the fabulous AirAsia, in the city that I lived in for two years, loved like my hometown, and where I have tons of friends with comfortable couches.

This very program is coming at a time when I am looking to study educational technology more in depth. For the last year, or so, I’ve been thinking about a Ph.D., weighing the pros and cons, looking for just the right program, thinking about what, exactly, I am interested in, but nothing has jumped to the forefront.

And then, this program comes along. The degree is actually Instructional Technology and Distance Education, which initially I was not at all interested in. Then, I got to thinking…. Isn’t distance education what we’re doing when we design globally collaborative projects? Isn’t distance education what all of our students will be doing in the future when we’ve finally adapted to life, web 2.0 style? Then, isn’t distance education the future of education? And, by golly, if it is, I want to be there.

Oh, and have I mentioned that because this program is an Ed.D. (not a Ph.D.) it will only take three years, and because it’s an international cohort it’s about a quarter of the price of a traditional Ph.D.?

So, you can see how this program might just be appealing to me.

But I’m still not sure. For starters, it’s not a Ph.D., and there’s just something about the prestige of a Ph.D. that I like. Secondly, it’s still mighty expensive – no free rides here. Thirdly, and most importantly, I’m in my first year at a new school, a new, intense, busy, school, and this is going to eat up my free time like nobody’s business. Lastly, I’m currently in an online course to get my library certification – a 30 credit certificate program – almost enough for another masters!

So, brilliant edubloggers, what do you say? Should I Ed.D. or not?

(Seriously late) UPDATE:

Thank you to everyone who offered advice here – it was so good to hear all the different side of the issue. In the end, I decided not to do the Ed.D. It was a tough decision, but I’m glad I finally decided, now I can stop thinking about it!

Basically, given my new job, the fact that I’m currently pursuing another degree,  the location of the program (KL is close, but I’m not sure it’s close enough) and the reality that the actual program specifications don’t exactly exactly match what I’m interested in, were all reasons I decided against this particular program.

However, I did just meet a colleague from ISKL who is going to do the program, so I should get the inside scoop on how it works – just in case they decide to run the same course through ISB here in Bangkok. Either way, I still think I’ll go for another degree, eventually, but this one just isn’t quite right enough to spend all that time, money and energy…

9 thoughts on “To Ed.D. or Not to Ed.D.

  1. Understandingly tempting. Read all the fine print in the program description, Read the sylabus, or at least the course descriptions. See if they sound right. Are you more attracted to the philosophy and use of web2, or the mechanics of the technology which makes it possible? I clicked through to the program description, and it looks to me to be on the techy side, rather than the pedagogical. Where do you see your future?
    Sounds like you have your hands full right now, too.

  2. Are you going for another degree for the prestige or the learning involved? If it’s learning, I vote for Ed.D./perfect time, perfect place.

  3. Kim,

    I’m doing an Ed.D. at the moment. I kind of stumbled into it, but I love it! My PGCE was the first year of an MA, then when it came to dissertation time I transferred to the Ed.D.

    1. You have to do lots of reading, which I like.
    2. You have to find academic research to back up what people say on blogs and Twitter.
    3. You still get to call yourself ‘doctor’ at the end of it.

    1. Heavy time and length commitment.
    2. You have to find academic research to back up what’s going on in the edublogosphere…
    3. It can seem somewhat arcane when you’re on the cutting edge.

    Overall, I’d go for it! :-)

  4. Kim,

    I’ve had my doctorate (Ed.D.) for more than 20 years ago now and think that unless you plan to go into research or university work, the degree itself is rarely dissected by letters. Most people who know I have a doctorate “assume” it is a Ph.D. and I often find myself explaining the difference, assuming it matters…

    Though I didn’t consciously choose the Ed.D. over the Ph.D., it has been a better match for me with the emphasis on practical and hands-on work, rather than abstract, theoretical work. That’s not to say that I don’t partake in philosophical pedagogical discussions when I can generate a ‘sparring’ partner, but my work is with students and learning – frankly, I don’t think a degree makes much of a difference there anyway, but the Ph.D. would have meant less. I’m a lifelong learner and continue to take formal classes as well as indulge in this informal learning via conferences, staff development, and the edublogosphere!

    Ultimately, I’ve always found you “get out of it what you put into it” and as my doctoral advisor told me, “there’s never a good time to get your doctorate” – so, weigh all the pros and cons and make a good decision for yourself! :)

  5. Sometimes you can’t dissect things too much. You’ve gone over things here and it would seem that the opportunity is right. Sometimes you just have to GO FOR IT!

  6. I chose Ph.D. which I began this past semester. I did so because of the focus on conducting research. Doug Belshaw makes excellent points (as he typically does!) about having to find research to back up what folks say on twitter and in the edublogosphere.

    Also remember that any degree earned by distance education will be less than highly regarded should you ever choose a career path that leads you into higher ed. I’ve got loads of research to back that up, so just make sure you know that Nova, Walden, and others can seem a bit like degree mills to those who control higher education search committees.

    I only say that to ask you to think about 20 years from now and where you and Alex will be. If you’ll be done with international teaching and might be considering a college teaching position (to be able to make a difference in preservice teachers) the Ed D might rule you out, especially if done through Nova.


  7. Hi Kim,
    I just wanted to drop in and say hi and that I’ve recently subscribed to your blog and am really enjoying it. Thanks for all the effort you put in. It’s really great to read what other people are doing, and helps to inspire me to do a bit more blogging myself! I teach Chinese at a small country school in SW Victoria, Australia. It’s a P-12 school so my students range in age from 5 to 16. My blog is http://www.technolote.com

    So, what have you decided in the end Ed.D or Ph.D? Or neither? Make sure you let us know! :-)


  8. Interesting conundrum. I’ve been mulling over this kind of thing myself lately – blogging frequently takes me to the (not so) far reaches of what I can speak knowledgeably about, and I’m getting a sore head from bumping up against my own ignorance. I’ve therefore made my mind up to go back and do a lot more formal study.

    There does seem to be a great many courses focusing on online/distance education, yes, and I’ve been wondering whether they offer the right mix of pedagogical and up-to-date technological perspectives. I’ve also been going back and forth between the ideas of Australian vs. US vs. British institutions. Prices vary considerably, and there seems to be some differences with regards to workload. Not that I’m looking to cut corners, and the main point of doing this is obviously to learn as much as possible. But it seems to me Australian institutions, for example, have higher minimum requirements than many US online courses with regards to the quantity of assessment you have to go through, and that does count a bit for someone working full-time or more. (For anyone who would question my comparison, I won’t pretend to have gathered any statistics on this – it’s mainly just an impression…)

    Your past experiences with fortuitous coincidences sound promising, Kim, and I’m inclined to say “Go for it!”. But I guess it’s possible I’m just projecting my own frame of mind here…

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