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My Experience with the Blended Learning Design of Graziadio’s MSOD Program

Cynthia Fields, MSOD '15

Upon making the decision to pursue a second graduate degree, finding a program that offered flexibility for working adults such as me was imperative. Therefore I was thrilled when I located Pepperdine’s Master of Science in Organization Development (MSOD) program. In addition to its being one of the top-ranked programs of its kind in the nation, I became aware of its distance learning format. I thought, “What could be more perfect than this?” Excitedly I applied to the program and was subsequently notified of my acceptance for the Spring 2013 term. Since all of my prior schooling came by traditional classroom instruction, curiosity caused me to imagine my upcoming learning experience: weekly online class sessions, occasional face-to-face meetings, and much independent study.

Fast forward to Fall 2013, the start of the program’s first trimester. Prior to the official kickoff I was assigned an MSOD alumni partner, Suzanne, who immediately contacted me to offer her support. Suzanne came to my home to join me for the orientation WebEx, shared her insights about the program and offered herself as a continuous resource during and after my MSOD experience. Upon the conclusion of the orientation she left me with three parting words: “trust the process.” As the trimester commenced all preconceived illusions of my learning experience were quickly dispelled. Instead of weekly meetings I was greeted by an introductory course to “Yammer,” Pepperdine’s social media outlet of choice. Through the course’s ingenious design I gained system functionality and began to build relationships within my cohort. Yammer now serves as a platform to support ongoing communications and shared learning, as well as to enhance engagement and accountability.

Throughout the course and beyond I was introduced to other tools such as Prezi and Google Plus, both of which have allotted additional opportunities for increased technological competence. Aside from the use of technology, I have been privy to a wealth of educational methodologies, to include: assessments, You Tube videos, individual research, collaborative group assignments, teleconferences, volunteer work, “game-ification,” and face-to-face sessions. The face-to-face sessions presented me with enriched learning from the varying occupations and diverse backgrounds of faculty, staff, alumni, and fellow students. Through the MSOD program’s innovative combination of theoretical and practical studies, I have already experienced both personal and professional growth. With this incomparable experience, I am excited about what this continuous educational journey has in store as I continue to “trust the process.”

About the Author

Cynthia Fields is an organization development consultant who partners with executives and senior leaders on strategic planning efforts as well as talent and change management initiatives. She specializes in leadership development, communications plans, teambuilding, employee performance, and process improvement. A certified Myers-Brigg Type Indicator practitioner, she works with teams and individuals to help increase levels of self-awareness. Cynthia also holds a master’s of public administration in human resources and finance.