Tammi Kolski

Student Spotlight: Dr. Tammi Kolski

This interview was conducted on March 1st, 2019.  Dr. Kolski was part of the first Doctor of Educational Technology cohort and graduated in August 2018.  The text interview below was edited for readability.  The audio of the interview can be found here.

JP = Justin Plevinski, interviewer

TK = Dr. Tammi Kolski

JP: Today  we hav with us Dr. Tammi Kolski, she was the first DET graduate in August of 2018.  She currently is an instructor in many different universities. And we’re going to go ahead and start the interview off talking about her educational and professional background. What is your educational and professional background?

TK: Hi, good morning Justin, thank you for this opportunity.  I came into the whole educational field in a a backdoor kind of way. My educational background prior to my DET is a bachelor’s and master’s degree in clinical psychology. I worked for 26 years as a clinical psychologists and as a part of that there was always a lot of teaching that took place with clients.  But I also did public speaking and then I was a field supervisor for masters of social work student. And each of those students at the end of their 10 month field placement had indicated that they had learned a lot from me- that I was teaching. When the opportunity came to look at a mid-life career change, per se, I kept hearing those students’ voices that said that you should be teaching.  So I started looking into opportunities to teach, not at all being aware of what online teaching and learning was even about.

I was given the opportunity to teach an online course at Central Michigan University in there Psychology department as well as an online and face-to-face course for a local community college Muskegon Community College.  That was in January of 2012. Once I dipped my toe into that educational water I just knew that it was something that I wanted to do more with. One thing led to another different opportunities to look at educational technology, using the different LMSs and the ways that those could be built even further through integration of technology landed me starting the Doctorate of Educational Technology program at Central Michigan University.  And as you indicated being the first one in the program to graduate.

I still am teaching, predominantly online for, as you indicating, multiple different universities, and looking currently for a full-time faculty position in the educational technology field.

JP:  Very interesting, so you’ve kind of hit onto my next question a little bit, what led you into the DET program.  Are there any other reasons why chose to enroll in the DET program specifically?

TK:  Well I got my undergraduate degree from Central so I’m a Chip at heart still.  That is one driving factor. It was an online program so I never needed to step foot on campus.  Everything could be done virtually. That was very appealing considering I don’t live near Mount Pleasant.  But mostly it was the idea of being able to learn more and understand greater, again, not having that educational background, how the application of educational technology impacts the learning process.  And knowing that I would be learning about education, as well as, educational technology seemed like a win-win for me on where I was at. As it ended up, it has been an absolute win-win for me.

JP: So it does sound like you had a positive experience in the DET program.  Could you elaborate on what your experience was like in the DET program itself?

TK: Absolutely, it was a challenging, rigorous program that, again, I had to take some additional learning steps, to understand some of the educational foundations that others who had studied education already had.  That was a challenge for me in a couple of courses. I have always been interested in doing research, I had already published a book, and I had already done some research. So the opportunity to come back into the research field was a secondary bonus to being in this program.  We started off doing course work type research to refamiliarize many people with the research science methodology process, but then to actually to actually get into my dissertation was something that I was looking forward to. It was motivating to me once I got to that level in the program to keep my drive in moving forward to getting that completed.

JP: You mentioned a little about what you toward your dissertation. So what exactly your dissertation topic, can you tell me a little about that?

TK:  I can. One of my psychology courses at Central that when I was teaching online was the pilot for using a tool called Respondus Lockdown Browser and Respondus Monitor.  It offers a level of cheating prevention for students taking their online courses and taking exams online. So students didn’t need to travel to a lab or to another face-to-face to take their labs. It would coincide with their online course so they could take their exams virtually. The Respondus Monitor program   would be video recording them while they’re taking their exams.

I started to look at test anxiety and where students who experienced test anxiety experiencing more indications, behaviorally of test anxiety secondary to the eye of the webcam watching them while they were taking their exams.  

JP: What were your findings for your dissertation?

TK: I don’t know if was the nature of my student population, the subject I taught, but they did not experience a lot of test anxiety to begin with.  However, going through some of the evaluations instruments that I used as a part of my research did allow some students to question if they didn’t experience test anxiety that they just weren’t aware of.  So that was unexpected finding of my research. Moreso for my students, my previous students than necessarily was part of my research. But it was still a notable finding. Otherwise there was not any indications that the use of a virtual proctor generated any additional anxiety responses in the students- which is a good thing to support that the use of a virtual proctor is not contributing to any additional stress of a student already feeling stressed by taking, either formative or summative, exams for their academic course work.  

JP:  Very interesting.  From your dissertation, have you had any outside reach from the topic that you studied? Any publications or presentations based on the content?

TK:  I have. I have been published twice. Three artifacts are created out of our dissertation process.  All three of my artifacts have been submitted for publication. Two of them have been accepted and one of them are already in publication.  The second one is due to be put out in publications this summer. One of them, again, looking at the difference between the community college and four year students, I submitted that piece of work in particular to a community college journal in support of the work that is being done at the community college level.

One of the pieces was looking more globally at test anxiety using virtual proctoring without the discrimination between the two different college aged population.  So those two artifacts have been published. I have also had the privilege working with Dr. Ming Zhang on getting a document that I had submitted for his course more refined.  It was also submitted for publication. It was accepted and then Dr. Zhang and I also presented that document at the Association of Teacher Educators in February of 2018. That was a really neat opportunity to take my academic experience and extend it even further by co-authoring with Dr. Zhang and then having the opportunity to present that amongst a very rich community of peers.

JP: What would you say has been the impact of the DET program or DET degree on your career so far?

TK:  My next is looking for a full-time faculty position and that is something without the degree I don’t feel I would be in the best competitive position to be able to obtain.  Certainly I don’t feel that working in the educational field of Education Technology or Learning Design and Technology. The degree has prepared me best to work within that very specific field of education.  So I feel very fortunate that opportunities can become available within that field secondary to the degree.

I also think the opportunity to continue to do research for publications and just the opportunity to have some very purposeful dialogue with others in the community is something that just going through this program and then having obtained the degree as well is going to something that is going to continue to best serve me.

JP:  As your reflect your experience through the DET program, if you could give students who are either about to start the DET or are thinking about joining the DET program some advice, what would it be?

TK: I think, first of all, a student who enters a fully online program needs to understand the time commitments that come with that program.  You cannot just fit your studies into an already busy day.. You need to dedicate time time, just as you would dedicate time like you would actually be going to a seated classroom. I think making that shift in your mindset that is something that I would definitely encourage all students looking into taking this online program to be very mindful about.  While in the program I would encourage students to not just take the surface level of information that’s provided to us but find ways to dig deeper into that content. Find ways to make any of it applicable into your interests, into your professional work, into just your personal journey if that’s a possibility. Making those connections with that material is going to allow you, then, to want it even more, understand greater, and therefore you are going to get a stronger value out of your program in doing so.

I definitely would encourage students to make connections with others in the cohort as well as with the awesome faculty who make themselves incredibly available to give additional teaching, to be mentors and guides, and to help spur the research interests that the student has.  Building a good relationship with the faculty and your advisors is something, if you don’t take advantage of that, you are really missing out on a lot that our faculty has to offer.

JP:  For the very last questions that I have for you, do you have any last thoughts at all about any of the questions that I’ve asked or any thing related to the DET program or the degree itself?

TK:  This is a very new program still but it’s on the cutting edge in a field that is continuing to blossom and grow.  The opportunity to have been a part of the first cohort of this program we consider ourselves the pioneers that we really feel we, through our experiences, and the faculty being receptive to our comments, are continuing to shape the future of the program. As are the cohorts that have come and are coming behind use.  This program is going to continue to evolve and grow in a way that is going to be needed in the educational realms, as well as, in the business sector. I think it’s a great opportunity for people to challenge themselves and look for ways that they can grow in this growing field.

JP:  Thank you very much for your time today. I appreciate all the answers that you gave they were very insightful.  

TK:  Thank you.


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