Final Countdown

Introduction to Interdisciplinary Studies is finally winding down to the end. It is remarkable to see how different my journey is now compared to last semester. Being a senior, I felt as if I was thrown into this new major not knowing what to expect. When you switch your major the last semester of college, you think there aren’t options left for your to complete a four year degree. I am thankful that I had the opportunity to change to IDS and explore this new way of learning.

Interdisciplinarity was not a word in my vocabulary before this semester. I was told that my best option for switching my major would be interdisciplinary studies and my first response was “what does that mean?”. I had no idea that such a thing existed. I asked around and basically the answer I got was “You can create your own major”. Then I thought, “how can I create my own major and graduate within a year?”. Sounds impossible. I honestly thought that this course was going to be like a typical freshman class where we would do things like “discover what we want to do with our lives” and do pointless projects and papers that I would never remember. I am so happy that I was wrong. This course was actually hard work and takes a lot of your time. This course showed me that all of the classes that I took here before switching my major weren’t a huge waste of my time and could be used to create my own curriculum. I better understand now that IDS is not just creating your own major. IDS allows you to practice individualized learning and create your own platform for what you really want to do with your career.

There is one article from the text book that I constantly refer back to and truly understood better than the rest. This article is The Interdisciplinarity of Flight by Lindsey Bradley. The reason I remember this article so well is because she does a truly great job of relating the concept of interdisciplinarity to an airplane and flight. Airplanes fly due to

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many different reasons. An airplane is a complex machine that carries hundreds of human beings 40,000 feet in the air. This is only made possible due to many concepts such as physics, engineering, communications, science and business. This helped me better understand what goes into interdisciplinary studies. Something that I learned is that it is easier to master one concept than multiple. But having knowledge from multiple concepts will take you further in the long run because you are able to branch out and gather information from multiple areas. When creating my Health Science major, I did not just take courses from the topic of health. In order to understand the entire idea of Health Science, I included my courses taken in health, biology, nursing, psychology, and physical education.

Another article that resonates with me is College Should Reconstruct the Unity of Knowledge by Vartan Gregorian. This article discusses what is wrong with college education and how college has turned into more of a job readiness program instead of a place where students can grow as individuals and become more self reliant. College has become more about getting a degree to get a job. Personally I feel as though this doesn’t allow students to enjoy a career most of the time. When I was a nursing student, I felt as though I was strictly doing it for the salary, not because I truly enjoyed it. This is why universities should explore interdisciplinarity more. Students need to feel like they are more in control of their own education. Being able to construct your own knowledge would allow students to learn easier and pay attention more. Nothing is worse than being in a class where you are not interested in the material and have no motivation to even go. Do you learn that way? Probably not. But yet, students are forced to take courses that have nothing to do with what they want to do with their lives.

Interdisciplinarity is all around us. We are constantly using our knowledge from different areas of study to solve problems, answer questions, and create new things every single day. I truly believe that people who practice interdisciplinarity throughout their lives have a better knowledge of subjects overall and can better understand things versus one who only practices learning via one discipline.

CC by: Ryleigh Stearns

Currently I am working on furthering my education in the health department. I want to be a radiological technician which will require me to go to school for another two years. I feel has though I have so much more confidence in myself and my future practice because of the course I have taken. IDS helped me discover what I really want to do with my career. I am hoping that within the next two years, I will be ready to get my second college degree. I also hope that Plymouth State University’s IDS program will become more popular and prevalent among the school and more students will discover that this is the best way to learn and create your future. I am hopeful and excited to graduate in May of 2018. I am hopeful that I have made the right decision in my choice to change my major to IDS.


So what the heck is a PLN?

PLN stands for Personal Learning Network. I know I’m not alone when I say I have no idea what that was 3 months ago. At first I thought it was some type of website where people collaborated on similar subjects and ways of learning. In a way, I was kind of correct. I took this quote from to better describe what a PLN is.

“A Personal Learning Network is a way of describing the group of people that you connect with to learn their ideas, their questions, their reflections, and their references. Your PLN is not limited to online interactions, but it is that online, global interactive part that really makes it special. It is personal because you choose who’s part of that group; you choose if you want to lurk–just check out what people are saying–or if you share; because you choose when to do so, and how to do so.”

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So my Personal Learning Network is connected to my new Twitter account. Feel free to check it out: @_RyleighStearns. This is my first ever Twitter account simply because I try to stay away from social media as much as I can. My first thought was “great I need to make a stupid twitter”. But the more I started using it, the more it made sense. I followed other people who created their PLN’s from Intro to IDS. I also followed health pages that I thought were the most interesting to me along with some science ones as well. To make my blog posts more known on my website, I would tweet them out with the link so more people could check out all of my posts that related to my new major and IDS. I think my favorite part about having a twitter was live tweeting with the rest of the class during a discussion. I have some of the most memorable tweets that I wrote in there that I highlighted in my Storify.

I will continue to use my new PLN for years to come. As time goes on and I continue my

CC by Ryleigh Stearns

education in the health science field in the hopes of becoming a radiologic technician, I see my PLN as something that I will lean on for more information. My PLN is a great way to keep in contact with others in this field and help me as a further in my career. As of now, I do not view twitter as another stupid social media site. I see it more as a learning experience and a website where I can enhance my learning experience.

Making Course Connections

I know I’m not alone when I was forced to change my major 3 years in to college. The thought of having only 1 year left and wanting to graduate with a Bachelor’s Degree seemed almost impossible. Something that I am thankful for is having Interdisciplinary Studies save me and the position that I was in. This major helped me see that I wasn’t lost or stupid for changing my major 3 years in. Graduating with a Health Science degree is something that is fit for me. Because of IDS, I see how I can better integrate myself into courses. It is easier to think outside the box and make more connections with different subjects and find that adjunct of information in between the two. There are two courses that I am taking this semester that I want to discuss. The first one is Disease, Safety & Environment with Lynn Bates and the second is Science or Superstition with George Matthews.


Disease, Safety & Environment was a class that I wanted to take because I figured it would be information that was not new to me. I have taken multiple science & health

By Ryleigh Stearns

related courses at Plymouth State and with all of the knowledge I have, this class would be a breeze. So I was right about one thing, this class is a breeze for me. No, it is not because this class is easy, it’s because a good amount of the information discussed isinformation that I already know from previous classes. Professor Lynn Bates has a different teaching style that I am used to and because of that, I am learning the information better. Because I was previously a Nursing major, I have been taking multiple health classes. Nursing on it’s own is interdisciplinary but it is not until now that I truly understood why. The thought of this helps me feel much more confident in my study and helps me feel like I made the right choice with switching my major.

The next course I want to discuss is Science or Superstition. To be honest, I chose this class because it had the word “science” in it and I am all for a good science class. I’m pretty sure almost half of my 120 credits are science courses. So this class was absolutely nothing like I expected. We don’t have exams, we don’t have papers, and it is very informal assignments. By this I mean it is closely related to my Intro to IDS class. I get to

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choose what I want to write about on our class blog and I can seriously write about anything that I want that has to do with science. I have honestly learned so much from this class because it forces you to look up information that you have always wanted to know about like why people are so afraid of Friday the 13th. There is so much freedom in this course which is not something that I am used to at all. Professor Matthews is also hilarious and keeps my attention throughout the class that I am in. This course encourages me to explore more information on my own. To me, that is a big part of my IDS journey.

Something that I have learned through IDS, is that it is okay to not know exactly what you are going to do out of college. It is okay to go back to school. And it is okay to switch your major s year before you are going to graduate. By following what my gut has told me, I discovered two courses that have enhanced my learning and allowed me to expand my horizon. I have learned that I need to have more confidence in what I know because I am smarter than I actually think. Thanks to IDS, I see a strong future for myself.

From Saying to Doing

As I continue in my first interdisciplinary class, I am really getting used to the concept of interdisciplinarity. Although this concept is still extremely fresh to me, it has grown on me for the better and has assisted me in a higher level of education in this short amount of time. I now see interdisciplinary teaching as the way that teaching should be done. I also see the importance in separate disciplines, but the answer to solving problems in a more efficient and effective way is through the way of interdisciplinary learning in a problem-based setting. “Rather than supporting content learning of a single discipline, the problem-based approach puts the problem to be solved before the ‘tools to solve it’” (Stentoft, 2017). This article by the name of, From saying to doing interdisciplinary learning: Is problem-based learning the answer? by Diana Stentoft, truly resinated with me as well as did a great job of summarizing the main points about interdisciplinarity as I have come to know.

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One thing that is most important to me about interdisciplinary studies is how the student is in control of what they learn and how they choose to do so. I have always felt so strongly about this subject since I have always felt that if the student was able to create their own schedule of learning, the outcome would always be higher. I also believe that students will accomplish a higher level of education by being able to create their own way of mastering a subject. Interdisciplinarity separates individuals from the basic way of learning.

There are some challenges to this way of learning. Something that I have learned is that there are multiple barriers to interdisciplinary learning. Stentoft mentions in her article that “The complexities of interdisciplinary learning may add to the discomfort of the teacher who may experience interdisciplinary teaching not only as an opportunity for learning but also as a challenge since he is not the expert within a confined disciplinary field”. This is something that I find agreeable because there has been such a finite way of learning things within a classroom that the teachers will not find it beneficial to stray form the norm. This statement also made me think more in depth on this particular barrier. It made me question why a teacher would not think they are an expert on the disciplinary they are teaching. If instead of learning one discipline, would they have found it more beneficial to learn in an interdisciplinary way? This is a barrier that is important for teachers to overcome. The teachers themselves are the shifters of knowledge and have the opportunity to incorporate interdisciplinary teaching and learning into their curriculums.

Stentoft made it known that her research in this subject has only just begun. “Clearly,

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interdisciplinary PBL is about much more than students addressing a real-life problem, and this should be reflected in the organization and implementation of learning activities” (Stentoft, 2017). I can’t help but wonder how different the concept of learning will be in the future. Although it is impossible to tell, I have confidence that interdisciplinary teaching and learning will become much more prevalent due to its growing popularity and discovery. I found this article one of many that I could truly relate with and one that has helped me better understand why this way of learning is so important.

Article Citation:

Stentoft, Diana. “From Saying to Doing Interdisciplinary Learning: Is Problem-Based Learning the Answer?” Active Learning in Higher Education, vol. 18, no. 1, 2017, pp. 51–61.



Sutherland Springs

Many people have a Sunday routine of going to Church every morning with family, friends, or alone. I remember my mom taking me to church when my sister and I were younger, but never made it mandatory as we were growing up. Church is a part of religion for some people, and a safety zone for others. Unfortunately, Church was a nightmare for the people in The First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas.

On Sunday November 5th 2017, at least 26 lives were taken when a 26 year old male burst into the church, gun in hands, firing at any person he saw. The shooter was by the name of Devin Kelley and had a history of domestic abuse. Kelley unfortunately did not care about the age of the victims. The youngest live lost was a mere 18 months old and the oldest being 77 years. After the shooting, Kelley fled in his vehicle and crashed it at a high speed, taking his own life.

Many different departments were called to the scene. Law enforcement attempted to figure out the motive behind the shooting. After doing some research, it was discovered that Kelley had sent threatening messages to his mother-in-law that day prior to the shooting. It was also noted that she attended the same church that Kelley had gone into that day, taking the lives of many. Kelley was a part of the US Air Force and was stationed in New Mexico. Because of his history of domestic abuse, he was not able to possess fire arms. Unfortunately Kelley proved himself a very dangerous man when he got his hands on 3 rifles. Since this man took his own life, we will not know the exact motive of what he has done, but with the help of detectives and law enforcement, we can come very close to what we believe was Kelley’s motive.


Fireman and EMT’s were on the scene right away, attempting to save the lives of the injured and bring others to safety. Along with the 26 deaths, 20 people were injured so paramedics had to act quickly to get people to the hospital to get the proper care they needed. There are still people in critical condition at this time, but if medical personnel did not show up the time that they did, more lives could have easily been lost.

Fortunately, 2 funds have been started to help with the victims of the Sutherland Springs shooting. One fund is by the name of Sutherland Springs Shooting Fund which provides donated funds directly to the victims of the shooting. This fund is run by the Hardest Hit Family Relief Fund (HHFRF), an existing charity that provides disaster relief. There is also a GoFundMe page that is aiming to raise money for the church where it all took place. The pages together have already raised approximately $12,000 in donations within the span of one day. Without the help from these funds, recovery would be off to a much slower start.171105200704-19-sutherland-springs-church-shooting-exlarge-169

All of these departments are working together to overcome this disaster that has occurred. Without them and the people that run them, this situation could have been handled in a much poorer way. Unfortunately, this situation can not be taken back, but because of the technology and departments we have access to, we can hopefully prevent another situation like this from happening again the future. Source

The Washington Post

New York Times

The Discipline of Biology

One thing about nursing school is that you take a lot of classes from many different disciplines. I like to think that nursing is interdisciplinary itself. The discipline that I want to focus on is biology. The courses that I got the pleasure of taking in the discipline of biology resinated with me the most out of all the others. Freshman year, I took Anatomy and Physiology I & II which is a requirement for an array of majors at any university. Biology courses allow you to learn more about the human body and what it can do, and what other things can do to it. Biology is one of the most important and probably the most valuable discipline to be included in something like nursing.


The history of biology spans back to many centuries ago. Biology is in fact the study of life on this earth. Hippocrates, Aristotle and Galen, people of ancient times, were some of the first to study the anatomy and physiology behind living organisms. The middle ages, approximately 10,000 years ago, is when medicine was being discovered and tested. Biology takes a very large place in the evolution of science itself.

Biology is studied all over the world. Something that is interesting about biology is that it is something that Plymouth State and other college students can actually major or minor in, not just a discipline towards your major. A human body has many moving parts and mechanisms that don’t seem like there is much to them, but is actually extremely complex. That’s why there are labs that include the dissection of animals and other things in order for us as a species to learn more about ourselves. It doesn’t stop there! Biology includes things like human diseases, viruses and bacteria. Microscopic organisms that can multiply and build up resistance to our immune systems and make us sick. Without the study of Biology, we would not know what makes up a human. Our species is superior because we took the time to ask ourselves, “what makes us tick?” and we began to discover amazing things. It is amazing that we even have the time to learn everything about the human body.

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The subject of science has always been interesting to me. I find that in all of my biology courses, labs are included. I enjoy the environment, the beakers, test tubes, microscopes with slides, bunsen burners, and even the ugly goggles and lab coats. Being able to test things within the environment, look at bacteria and viruses under a high definition microscope or being able to see human cells is truly remarkable. Biology allows us to see how complex the human body really is and how hard they work. Human bodies are machines, constantly making improvements and growing into a species that is superior over any other.




Click HERE for my source


Interdisciplinarity & Me

Interdisciplinary studies was nothing that I ever knew existed. Honestly, it has changed how I think of things and allows me to explore what I really want to do with my life. After not passing a class in my nursing major, I thought the world was coming to a tragic end. But I realized something. I realized that the world was not coming to an end, and that the way I was learning wasn’t doing my any favors. I didn’t not pass this class because I’m not smart enough or I didn’t know the information.

Interdisciplinary approaches were not introduced to me until a few months ago. At first, I had no idea what it was or what it entailed. I was basically told that I could create my own major and design a major off of classes that I took and that relate to what I want to do with my life. After a few weeks of class I was sold. I could take classes from the subject of psychology, health, nursing, math, social work and anything else I thought would be necessary and build my own major. As Nissani states, “Interdisciplinarity is best seen as bringing together distinctive components of two or more disciplines.”

Interdisciplinarity has given me the opportunity to continue my education. I


thought that I was stuck, and that I wouldn’t be able to have any career I wanted. As it turns out, so many of my courses count in other curriculums of other majors, in other schools. This makes it so easy for me to go back to school and really continue doing what I want to do. A radiologist is something that I have always had my heart set on. Nursing gave me wonderful experiences that I will remember for the rest of my life and throughout my career. But interdisciplinary learning has allowed me to create my own future and help me continue to do what I love.

The beginning of my journey with interdisciplinary studies has been stressful, but a great learning experience. It is really interesting to see what some of my peers have decided to create their majors out of and the many different and amazing ideas that each student holds. The posts allow myself to be creative and using knowledge from the many different subjects that I have learned about throughout the years.

I think I still have a long way to go in order to adjust to this different way of learning. But I see myself being successful in the long run, and using all the knowledge I have from different areas of study to be the best student and future radiologist that I can be.







Making a Change to Health Science

Health Science
Ryleigh Stearns, IDS major

The title of the program I created is Health Science. Coming into college, I was almost certain that I knew what I wanted to do with my life. I knew that I loved science, and I want to do whatever I could to help people in any way that I can. I ended up choosing a major at Plymouth State that was not exactly right for me, and I did that for 3 out of the 4 years of my college career. After realizing that I was in the wrong program, I wondered if it was too late for me to decide something else. I was introduced into Interdisciplinary Studies not too long ago.
The program that I created consists of a variety of classes from nursing, health education, psychology, biology, and math. I created a program with so many different areas of study because the health field is so broad and expands to great lengths. Without knowing exactly what I want for a career, having experience from all of these areas prepares me for anything that could possibly come my way. No other program could meet my needs in the way that my own program could because I cannot yet specify what I want to be doing in the next five years. My plan is to go back to school and become a radiological technician. With the health background that I have, along with the numerous hours of clinical experience, I will make a great candidate.
In my program, I wanted to include numerous biology courses that I felt I learned the most and stood out the most for me. BI 2110 Human Anatomy/Physiology I with Lab was the beginning of my college classes. This course got down to the basics of the human body; it’s bones, muscles and cells. This course, along with its familiar sister BI 2120 Human Anatomy/Physiology II with Lab, taught me all about the structure and function of the entire human body. BI 2340 Microbiology for Nurses was a class that I found extremely valuable. Diseases, viruses, bacteria and so on were the main topics in this course. It is valuable for health oriented majors to know about diseases and how humans contract diseases and how they fight them off. BI 2360 Genetics for Nurses is the last biology class I decided to include in this program. I found this class helped me better understand the human genome and severity of

certain genetic diseases.
Next I will get into the nursing classes. I thought it would be

really important for me to include certain nursing courses because I learned more in these classes than a lot of other classes I have taken in the past. NR 3052 Clinical App Patient Centered Care, NR 3090 Clinical Evidence Based Practice,

and NR 3094 Evidence Based Practice Med/Surg are all courses where I

was doing my clinical work in the hospital. This is where I learned the most and spent most of my time. Having hands on experience with patients allowed me to learn in a more efficient way. On top of that, I have taken away some very memorable experiences from working in the hospital. NR 3030 Pharmacology & Pathophysiology was one of the hardest courses I have taken, but a very valuable one. In this course, I learned all about medical drugs and their effects in general and effects on the human body.
During my sophomore year, I took HE 3220 Applied Nutrition for Healthy Living. This course shed light on a lot of things that I did not know about nutrition and preventable health related diseases that are so prevalent in the United States. HE 3230 Promoting Health Across the Lifespan taught me a lot about myself. Something that I really enjoyed about that class was being able to collaborate so much with my classmates and discuss what we learned together in class and relate it to our everyday lives. In my particular group, we learned many ways how to manage stress and provide examples as well as present it to the class. The hard work that we put in for that presentation did not get forgotten, it actually got posted on the Plymouth State Library page. The last health class, HE 2900 Disease, Safety & Environment provides me with so much information about human health and disease and goes into depth about bacteria and how certain diseases are transmitted. This course is very valuable since working in a hospital puts not only patients, but also yourself at risk.
To meet my QRCO requirement, I enrolled in MA 2200 Finite Mathematics, which is math that you practice in your everyday life such as financial equations and basic properties that you may come across during one’s lifetime. I decided to include PS 3170 Child Development in my contract form because having knowledge of all ages in important to have while working in a hospital. This course went very in depth on childhood diseases and how the mind of a younger child works. Finally, SW 3500 Health & Society is a course that I plan on taking to complete my contract. I wanted to include this course because I think social work is very important in the health field and having a class that discusses health in society would give me much more knowledge about the health in certain areas.
Although I decided to change my major as a senior in college, I feel that I made the right decision with choosing Interdisciplinary Studies. The courses that I included best represent me as a student and have helped me pave the path for what I want to do to further my education. Health Science is exactly what I want to receive my Bachelor of Science degree in. Having this degree will also help me further my education so I am able to create the future how I want.

Interview with Lynn Bates

It was humid, hot and hard to think. Luckily, I found a great professor willing to take time from her day for a quick interview. Lynn Bates teaches two classes in the Health and Human Performance department. I am grateful to have chosen a class that professor Bates teaches, for she is very knowledgable and someone that I can get a lot of insight from. Something that I found interesting that Lynn told me was that she has previous experience in themedical field which is what I had thoughts of doing. Her words are very encouraging to me, which only made me want to find out more about her.

Professor Bates got her masters degree in Health Education and does not do any current research at this time. I then asked Bates what she most enjoys about her work. She responded with “Interacting with students. I really enjoy raising people’s awareness of things that people don’t think about to acknowledge. I really like being proactive in regard to health”. I then went on to ask her what ways she likes to promote being proactive and she said with the education aspect. Professor Bate’s enjoys being proactive in situations now because after working in the health care field for 18 years, she was constantly being reactive to situations. From her experience now, she can now be proactive as much as possible.

Professor Bates is constantly working with all types of majors and scholars. There is such a wide variety of students in all of her classes that she enjoys seeing day to day. She does collaborate with others in her field in the sense of meeting and discussing different activities for her students. A challenge to this is that extra ideas and activities that they come up with is something that she has to pay for since she is not full time faculty.

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I went on to ask Bates what courses outside of her department should students take that she feels are necessary. She states, “I think all students should take some sort of communication course. A lot of people are not good at it whether it is written verbal or relational. I also think that art courses are important. Being able to tap into that creative part of your brain is really crucial to problem solving and it doesn’t matter what career you are in. It changes your way of thinking and your way of looking at things.” I could not agree more with what she states here. I personally have taken two art classes over my college career and thought that they were very beneficial to my own well being. Going to a class that you enjoy makes your day better and puts you into a better state of mind.

I ended my interview with Lynn with some more personal questions. I asked her what she enjoys doing in her free time. To me, it sounds like Professor Bates loves staying active and seeing the world. She told me that her free time consists of working out, jazzercise, gardening, cooking, drawing, traveling and watching a good movie on television. The last thing I asked was what is the favorite part of her career. Her answer was nothing short of great. She responded with, “The diversity of students that you meet in this kind of profession. They are diverse culturally, intellectually diverse, and motivationally diverse. It is amazing, the people that you get to meet.”

It was truly great to meet with a professor outside of the class that she teaches. Being able to connect on a more personal level gives you much more respect for your professor and what they teach. By talking to Professor Bates, I feel like there is more that I want to experience in life, and also gives me more to think about when it comes to my own career. I can only hope that she enjoyed this interview as much as I did. Special thanks to Professor Lynn Bates.

School: Are We Missing Something?

I am sure that I’m not alone when asking “Are we missing something?” after reading these three articles. All articles touch on the new idea of building a domain for students that allows them to personalize their education basically. In this new age of technology, are we using it to its full potential for our learning? If every student in high school or college was able to create their own personalized domain and learn the way that each individual learns best, it would change the way education is looked at and help people learn the way that they want to learn.

Technology is much more than Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. Gardner Campbell from Baylor university created something called a “personal cyberinfrastructure” that “gives students agency and control; they are the subjects of their learning, not the objects of education technology software”. I agree completely with this, students should be able to express their learning and express what they have to offer the world and share it with anyone they please.

There was a great point that Andrew Rikard states in his article titles Do I Own my Domain If You Grade it? “If no one wants to read the hastily constructed blog post for a class participation grade, then what is the purpose of making it public? If assignments are going to live online, don’t they need to be connected to a public dialogue? Don’t they need to be oriented at the proper audience? The web is a network for conversations, and if students still see their audience as a teacher with a red pen, then nothing changes.” I personally see this everyday and have to do this for many of my classes. I get an assignment from a professor telling us to write about something completely boring and then comment on another student’s post saying anything that comes to mind to receive credit.

Overall I think the idea of students having their own domain past their high school and college careers is awesome. If I were looking to hire someone for a job I wouldn’t just want to see their transcripts and portfolio but I would be interested in seeing a website that they have created and posted about with their interests and what they have achieved throughout there learning experiences with school. So in general, I believe that a lot of schools are missing something. They are missing personalized learning, and the Domain of One’s own Initiative may be the solution.