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USC Rossier online students meet face-to-face

Immersion weekend kicks off new degree program: Doctor of Education in Organizational Change and Leadership

Immersive courses
Students were engaged in immersive classes through the weekend. (USC Photo/Stephanie Echeveste)

USC Rossier School of Education alum John Rajeski ’13 knows the convenience of an online education. The graduate of the online Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT) program lives in South Korea and now relishes getting started in the new online Doctor of Education (Ed.D.) in Organizational Change and Leadership.

But this online program came with a personal touch: Rajeski flew out to attend the program’s four-day immersion, joining 57 others from around the world who came to USC to meet faculty and colleagues and take part in study groups and presentations. Throughout the three-year program, Ed.D. students will attend annual immersion weekends held on the USC campus.

Dean Karen Symms Gallagher and Executive Vice Dean Melora Sundt, as well as USC Rossier faculty and administrators, welcomed the doctoral students over dinner on Thursday, Jan. 15, noting their diversity and the uniqueness of this new program.

“The new Ed.D. will prepare organizational leaders who can focus on how well an organization learns, how to better motivate and supervise an organization and how to create systems that produce more effective and adaptable organizations,” said Gallagher, who earlier this year reported the milestone of 2,000 graduates from her online MAT program.

Diverse backgrounds

The doctoral students come from diverse backgrounds, from aerospace to health care, K-12 education to legislation, military to marketing; many hold more than one master’s degree and will maintain their full-time jobs during the three-year Ed.D. program. Nearly one-third of the inaugural class is from the private sector; the female-to-male ratio is nearly even.

EdD students John Rajeski and James Winter

During the EdD immersive weekend, John Rajeski reconnected with fellow MAT graduate and current EdD student James Winter, who flew in from São Paulo, Brazil. (USC Photo/Stephanie Echeveste)

“I approached the MAT program as a startup, and I intend to approach the EdD program the same way,” Rajeski said.

The Ed.D. Organizational Change and Leadership Immersion was a rigorous four days of coursework. Students had classes in “Framing Education Leadership in a Global Context” and “Creativity and Innovation” in person at Waite Phillips Hall.

Classes are small enough — online and off, each averages about 12 students — that when Professor Rob Filback glanced around the room, he instantly knew that someone was in the wrong class.

First-time meeting in person

Filback and USC faculty members Kim Ferrario, Jen Crawford, Monique Datta, Kimberly Hirabayashi, Patrick Crispen and Doug Lynch taught throughout the weekend and met their students in person for the first time. Ferrario greeted the students in their first session calling them “agents of change — you are going to make a difference in your communities.”

Students jumped right in from day 1, having in-depth conversations with their professors and classmates. By Saturday evening everyone was a bit burnt out, having had to frame their problem statements earlier that day and read pages upon pages of academic journals to make sure their framing had a foundation. Yet, they enthusiastically regrouped for a USC campus tour and later for dinner at LA Live.

On Sunday the students had their last courses on campus and posed for a group photo to commemorate the beginning of their journey toward the Ed.D. They will be seeing each other online soon to continue their coursework.

For more photographs from the USC EdD Immersion, check out our live blog coverage of the Ed.D. online or search the hashtag #USCEdDImmersion.

Stephanie Echeveste is the community manager for USC Rossier Online and editor of the Inside Rossier Online Blog. You can find her on #edchat as @USCTeacher and follow her at @stephanieetxe and Google+

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USC Rossier online students meet face-to-face

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