Student Spotlight: Greg Murphy, MSEd – Education Program
Can you tell me a little about your background?
Sure thing. I grew up in Andover, Massachusetts. As a kid my interests revolved around art, tinkering with electronics and making music. Music eventually became a serious pursuit. In my 20’s I moved to Boston to play in bands, something I continued while studying art at universities in Brooklyn, and Portland, Oregon. Oregon is where I eventually earned my Bachelors in art history and design. As part of the program, I interned as an art teacher in various schools, getting experience in the field of education that led to a move abroad. I spent three years teaching English in Korea and Eastern Europe. I’m at a public school in Taiwan now. Along the way, I made a lot of artwork with a focus on interactive sculpture that I adapt for the classroom.
How did you discover UNE Online?
While in Korea I came across a discussion of UNE’s Master’s program in a forum for expat teachers. At the same time my parents, who live in Scarborough, mailed me information on it. All arrows pointed toward UNE.
What encouraged you to get your MSEd?
I always felt the need to have a career doing something creative, and teaching satisfies this for me. I realized this in Korea. The experience there was very rewarding, but also frustrating. I left with a lot questions about teaching, and the MSEd program seemed like a good place to get answers.
Your teaching portfolio is really impressive! Can you share a little more about your focus on percussion and interactive technologies?
Thanks. I’ve been playing percussion instruments since I was very young. I always wanted to use this in the classroom, but couldn’t find a way to make it directly relate to lesson objectives. That was until my action research project at UNE. My topic was on how Chinese spoken by my Taiwanese students interferes with English pronunciation. English is very rhythmic with predictable intervals of syllable stress, qualities that don’t exist in Mandarin. Drum and chant exercises turned out to be an effective way to get my students more comfortable with this.
Like with the drumming, I didn’t want to use my interactive art projects in the classroom unless they had a specific purpose. The ‘Differentiation Theory and Strategy’ course introduced me to multiple intelligences theory, specifically how some students prefer kinesthetic and auditory ways of processing information. With this in mind, I used a unique electronic component called the Makey Makey to turn my classroom into a computer keyboard. Objects that I selected at random now trigger audio samples when touched. My lessons have students running around the room, touching a chair or tapping other students to form sentences that answer questions.
For visual and spatial learners, I adapted my remote control painting installation for a lesson on giving directions. Here a video game controller triggers audio commands which are then followed by a student at a painting canvas. The result is a kind of human Etch A Sketch. I’m amazed by how well these lessons engage some of my reluctant learners. I think there’s a lot more to explore here.
What did you like most about studying at UNE Online?
The online coursework made it possible to work abroad, which was a big advantage. My elementary school is open to experimental lessons. This helped me get a lot out of the program by being free to apply concepts learned in the course in unconventional ways. Of course, the professors and classes were top notch. I feel that I got a lot out of the experience.
If there’s one thing you would want a potential student to know before starting in this program, what would it be?
If it’s possible, teach abroad while earning your degree. Certified American teachers are in high demand.
If you are interested in the online Graduate Programs in Education, or if you would like more information, please reach out to an Enrollment Counselor at (800) 994-2804 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Or, if you’re ready to apply, fill out your online application at go.une.edu/apply.