Graduate: M.Ed. in in Educational Technology
"I was amazed and impressed by the quality of the curriculum, the immediate and continual feedback from professors, peer collaboration projects, and the wide array of skills I developed."
Sharon Orlopp hadn’t set foot in a classroom in 33 years when she enrolled in the University of Arkansas’ online Master of Education in Educational Technology program. After working for 30 years in senior-level positions for Fortune 500 companies, she had decided to set her sights on a new goal.
“I had been thinking about the next chapter of my life,” said Orlopp. “I wanted the ability to live and travel anywhere while writing, teaching and speaking.”
When she began looking into master’s degree programs, Orlopp was the Senior Vice President of Corporate Human Resources and Global Chief Diversity Officer for Walmart. She chose the U of A for many reasons, she said, including “academic rigor, flexibility, cost and the wide variety of degrees offered.”
“The main selling point was that it was 100 percent online,” she said. “My work and travel schedule did not allow for the possibility of evening or weekend face-to-face classes.”
After narrowing down her choice of university, Orlopp dug in to see which degree program was best suited for her needs. She determined that the Educational Technology program would allow her to follow her passion.
“I believe strongly in the democratization of education through accessibility and affordability,” said Orlopp. “I want to be involved in the future revolution of education.”
According to Orlopp, technology could be the catalyst for such a revolution.
“I am an early adopter of technology,” she said, “and I wanted to develop the skills to become an online professor or trainer.”
During her time in the program, Orlopp experienced several major life changes. She retired from Walmart and moved from Arkansas to Arizona. A close family member passed away, and her youngest child went away to college. She created her own company, Orlopp Enterprise, and began co-authoring a book. Because her classes were online, she was able to do all of this without missing a beat and is on track to graduate next month.
“The advice I have for anyone considering an online program is to be very organized and disciplined with your time,” Orlopp said. “Having a strong plan on how to balance work, family and school is critical for success.”
Orlopp reported that her overall experience as an online student at the U of A exceeded her expectations.
“I was amazed and impressed by the quality of the curriculum, the immediate and continual feedback from professors, peer collaboration projects, and the wide array of skills I developed,” Orlopp said. “Even though I have not met my professors or classmates in person, I have established strong, long-term relationships.”
Orlopp has already begun developing curriculum and facilitating training sessions through Orlopp Enterprise, both face-to-face and online.
“I am very excited about the future,” she said.