Ed.D. in Educational Administration & Leadership, 2009
School of Education
June 1, 2010
Move From Saudi Arabia to Minneapolis “the beginning of an extremely rewarding career”
Dr. Vanitha Chandrasekhar graduated from the UC Irvine/Cal Poly Pomona Ed.D. program in 2009, after successfully defending her dissertation: Promoting 21st Century Learning: A Case Study of the Changing roles of Teachers in One-to-one Laptop Programs.
Dr. Chandrasekhar was born, raised, and educated in the northern city of Kanpur in India. She states that she was not motivated as a student and it was this experience that helped her empathize with her students as she went into a career as a teacher. She later spent several years in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia with her husband and young son and was able to travel to several countries during that period. It was during her time in Saudi Arabia that her experiences with volunteering at her son’s school motivated her to pursue a degree in Elementary Education at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities. The move from the hot deserts of Saudi Arabia to the freezing temperatures of Minnesota was quite challenging at first, and for Vanitha who loves a challenge, this particular transition was both exhilarating and, as it now appears, the beginning of an extremely rewarding career.
Dr. Chandrasekhar started as a fourth grade teacher 20 years ago in the Long Beach Unified School District and moved up to her position as Educational Technology Coordinator in which she oversees the training and district-wide implementation of instructional technology. Students and teachers are the main foci of Dr. Chandrasekhar, who strives constantly to find ways of motivating and training teachers in the use of technology for teaching and learning.
I truly believe that technology is a means to entice, engage and motivate students to learn. I understand the anxiety teachers feel using technology with students, and I make every attempt to alleviate their concerns while encouraging them to embrace technology in their instructional practices.
When Dr. Chandrasekhar initially entered the Ed.D. program, she was interested in comparing the roles that technology has played in India, Japan and the US. While in the program she worked with Professor Mark Warschauer and got involved in assisting him with his research on one-to-one laptops; during this research she developed an interest in the roles of teachers in one-to-one laptop programs. This led her to readings on teacher behaviors, attitudes, and support systems in one-to-one laptop programs, which guided her research questions:
- What is the nature of teachers’ practices as they implement one-to-one laptop programs in their classrooms?
- What appear to be key factors that influence teachers’ instructional practices as they implement one-to-one laptop programs?
One of the major findings of her research was the importance of support systems in the effective implementation of any technology-based initiatives, which include not only those of top-level district supervisors, but also those of site administrators and peers. These findings drive some of the decisions that Dr. Chandrasekhar makes in her daily duties as Educational Technology Coordinator.
Dr. Chandrasekhar is the President of Beach City Computer Using Educators, Inc. (CUE) and an active member of the local CUE Legislative Advocacy group. She has recently added teaching courses at UCI to her repertoire of experience and is extremely excited about the opportunity to teach future advocates of technology in the classroom. She also was the recipient of the Fulbright Memorial Fund Scholarship which provided her the opportunity to visit Japan for three weeks and visit educational institutions and study their teaching practices. Dr. Chandrasekhar has presented at several conferences including National Middle School Association, CUE, Tech Ed, and 21st Century Learner’s Symposium,
Dr. Chandrasekhar maintains that she has been able to achieve all of this due to the extensive support of her husband and son who encouraged her to continue her endeavors and supported her through the road to her Ed.D.