By Bill DeHaven
If the graduate program at Corban were a person, he’d be my best friend.
I’d known about the graduate program (we’ll call him Grad) as an undergraduate student, but I never actually tried to get to get acquainted. In the evenings I sometimes passed the classrooms Grad was in and saw him there; occasionally I’d meet a friend of his in the library as he or she rounded up books needed for projects and dissertations – and we’d talk about him. When I became a senior I started thinking about the possibility of getting to know him. But I never thought Grad and I would be best friends like we are now.
This past summer I worried about meeting him for the first time. I’d heard he could be demanding, but I’d also heard how generous he was and how interested he’d be in my career, especially if I committed myself to the friendship. Basically people told me “with Grad as a friend, you’ll go places.”
So at the beginning of this semester, Grad and I met and we quickly bonded. How did we become best friends so fast? Well, we spend a lot of time together. We have classes together several evenings a week and we always work on papers together. But in addition to the time we spend, we also have a lot in common.
Both Grad and I know a lot of people, and we’re getting to know even more. As an undergrad, my Facebook friends list topped 300; but as a graduate student I’ve now passed the 400 mark. Grad knows just over 200 people, which is nearly a quarter of the student population at Corban, but that’s changing. Last year he also started dating a cute seminary from the Seattle area. Things have gotten more serious between them recently, so he’ll be adding her friends to his group.
We also both have to deal with the changing role of technology in the classroom. Now that I’m a graduate student with classes that meet just once a week, online discussions, homework uploading and instantly accessible syllabi and homework guidelines are a necessary component of school life. But that’s nothing compared to what Grad will be learning over the next few years. Some of the technology he’ll be integrating into online classes may include Skype and online wikis in addition to improved accessibility to online library resources.
Dr. Lucas, provost of Corban University, said the purpose of this technology will be to bring “interaction into a situation where there usually isn’t interaction.” This purpose fails if the technology becomes the focus of education or is used primarily to save the school money. Grad’s job will be to “make the technology so it disappears, so that all you’re doing is interacting,” said Lucas.
“I’d like to hear someone say ‘this [the online program] was a wonderful experience,’” he added.
Even with all these changes, Grad and I are looking forward to the next few years of our friendship. As he and the seminary become more serious, I’ll keep up our friendship. As Grad takes a more prominent role in technology implementation in the online classroom, I think our relationship will grow. I look forward to being able to say in a few years “I knew the graduate program at Corban University. And it was a wonderful experience.”