Cats, Maps, and (Online) Classrooms


Hi, I’m Barry. Here we go…

Barry aka Me

With a tip of the cap to Stacy Wise, I’m setting up shop here on the WVU IMC Student blog, along with fellow bloggers Ainsley and Jason.

Cat, Stereo, Full Sail

Blogging central

If all goes well, the three of us may be able to approach the success that Stacy had steering this blog for the past two years. And, we’ll all get to go on vacation to a place that’s half as beautiful as the place where Stacy is right now. Seriously, did you see that island?!?

For now, all I know for sure is that each of my posts will be composed with KEXP on the radio, a 19-lb. cat on my lap, and a Northwest craft brew (whichever one is on $6.99 special at the grocery this week) on the coaster.

I’ll also be your West Coast correspondent, based here in Seattle, WA, where IMC assignments are due 3 hours earlier and we actually get less rain each year than they do in Morgantown. Aside from that, my essentials are all posted on the Student Ambassador page, so we can move right on to the good stuff.

One of my main projects at work last year was to create a series of online learning programs for utility employees. We found a vendor to provide the software platform and I mentioned to the salesperson that I was working on my masters degree through the WVU IMC program. When he found out I was doing everything online, he knowingly asked, “You’ll never go back (to traditional classroom programs), will you?” My answer, which he knew was coming, was “Nope!”

You see, I knew when I applied to the IMC program that I’d be getting the convenience of an online education and the rigor of a fully accredited public university. But once I got underway in IMC 610, I realized that I was also getting access to students and instructors from across the country and around the world. There’s just no way that a classroom program can provide the diversity of backgrounds and experience that you’ll find on this map:

The IMC Map of Students and Instructors

Top that off with the fact that all classes are discussion-based — which means no one gets to hide quietly in the back corner — and you have many of the reasons why I just won’t go back to the old school.

I’ll close out this week’s post with another map that I just made with the help of BatchGeo, a cool extension for Google Maps. It’s a map of all of the places that I’ve worked on my IMC assignments in the past 16 months:

Barry's map of places where he's done IMC work

Three countries, eight states, plus the times that I’ve done work while flying across the country (thank you, in-flight wi-fi). Although, I think the most unusual place I’ve done work so far was on a charter bus to Whistler, BC during the 2010 Winter Olympics.

A Question For You

If you’re in the IMC program, what’s the weirdest place you’ve found yourself polishing off that last discussion response for the week? Prospective students, what’s your biggest concern about online education?

Thanks for reading. If anyone needs me, I’ll be completing my assignments from here over a long weekend…guess I can’t be too jealous of Stacy after all!

Lake Chelan, WA -- never been there before...I'll let you know how it is.

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7 Responses to “Cats, Maps, and (Online) Classrooms”

  1. Cindy Says:

    I’m hoping to be admitted to the IMC this fall and I have 5 cats – good to know their feline powers help with homework! 🙂 Great blog.

    • Barry Says:

      Hi Cindy,

      We have two cats, but I’m pretty sure they weigh the same as 5 regular cats. Good luck with the admissions process!


  2. Harri Jansson Says:

    Completed an MA online at Seton Hall University. Very challenging but worthwhile. We had 3 three day campus sessions where we got to know each other. Instructors were very hands on and participated actively. IMC on the other hand was shallow, learning came (or was supposed to ) from fellow students. This was all anecdotal and superfluous. In the five weeks that I participated we heard from the “professor” maybe three times. What kind of leaning is that??? IMC is a total waste of time unless you want an easy MA.

    • Barry Says:

      Hi Harri,

      Congrats on completing your MA and, while it’s unfortunate that your WVU IMC experience was not positive, I’m glad that you found a home at Seton Hall. Did you complete the Strategic Communication and Leadership program there?

      You are correct that much of the learning in the IMC program comes from fellow students and I actually find this to be a great advantage of the program. Most IMC students are currently working in the field, so the discussions give us an opportunity to relate our workplace experiences to the topic that is being covered during any given week. It is, of course, the professor’s job to keep the discussion on track and ensure that the information being shared is not simply anecdotal, and I have found that most professors do a good-to-excellent job of this. To be sure, a few professors have not been as good, but I have been fortunate never to have a professor who participates so infrequently as the one that you seem to have encountered.

      Finally, I hope that you will reconsider the negative tone of your closing statement. Speaking only for myself, I sought out a graduate program in order to be challenged — not to pick up an “easy” degree — and feel that WVU has delivered on what it promised. I respect your decision to invest your time and money in another program, but that should not imply that the IMC program is a waste by comparison.



  3. Harri Jansson Says:

    Barry, yes I should tone it down a bit..I am though upset with WVU that they would not refund anything because this was a “summer” course If I had taken it in the fall I would have received a refund. Makes no sense, Harri

  4. joblessjulie Says:

    The strangest place I ever finished and IMC post was in Shanghai, China – where assignments were due at noon the following day (or was it the day before…. it was very difficult to keep it straight). The worst part was I was writing a post on social media – not the best thing to be writing about when in a communist country that restricts many social media sites – needless to say my post was written without a lot of references or links to share!

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