Concordia University Irvine, Irvine, CA

Faculty Spotlight: Sandy Mercier, M.A.Ed., Ed.D. candidate, Assistant Professor of Education, Director of CUI’s Educational Technology M.A.Ed. Program

What programs do you teach at Concordia University Irvine? What drew you to this field of study? What keeps you excited about it?

As Director of Educational Technology, I teach primarily in this program; however, I also have the privilege of teaching courses in Curriculum & Instruction, as well. I love engaging with graduate learners in the online, asynchronous platform. It is truly a pleasure to examine educational issues, topics, and share resources with my students. A lot of what I do relates to sharing educational technology tips, tools, apps, engaging content ideas, and challenging my students to be intentionally innovative with their teaching approaches.

We focus a lot on the 5 Cs of 21st century teaching and learning: critical thinking and problem solving, communication, collaboration, citizenship (global and local), and creativity and innovation. We discuss the importance of digital citizenship and professional networking. We then we take our pedagogy a step further to include the constantly evolving technology standards, known as ISTE standards for Students (ISTE, 2016). I am a big fan of the collaborative, fast-paced, ever-changing world of educational technology.

How will your program better prepare/equip educators for the current climate we’re in (specifically with COVID-19 and the move to online/hybrid learning)?

CUI’s Educational Technology M.A.Ed. program is the ideal place to land as a teacher, TOSA (teacher on special assignment), tech coach, or other educational leader. Our Ed. Tech. program provides students with assignments, projects, and resources applicable to all modes of learning, including fully-distance or hybrid/blended.

For example, our courses demonstrate the significance of the flipped teaching model (using a variety of at-home or in-class contexts), and creating/maintaining an attractive and user-friendly class website. Websites can serve as an important communication tool to connect with school students and families during this isolating time of distance learning. In addition, students learn how to create and screencast videos for online teaching, as well as the value of using Twitter to connect and network with fellow educators locally, nationally, and globally. Lastly, our Ed Tech program introduces students to current trends, as well as highly skilled leaders in the field, ranging from bloggers, TED presenters, tech coaches, and experts in Ed. Tech. integration. 

What attracted you to Concordia University Irvine? What sets them apart?

Having attended Concordia University Irvine (CUI) as a student, I felt it would be such an honor to teach there someday. After serving for 13 years as a teacher at a K-8 school and then two years as a part-time adjunct professor at CUI, I was so pleased to be offered a full-time faculty position. As a lifelong Lutheran, I feel very strongly about my Christian identity and chosen vocation to serve God in all that I do. As such, I am fully dedicated to both the vision and mission of this amazing institution. CUI truly cares for the entire campus community and it shows. We are family. Our university aims to develop “wise, honorable, and cultivated citizens” in all that we say and do. Truly a mission statement I can proudly align myself with.

What is your professional background as an educator?

I had the privilege of attending Concordia University Irvine as both an undergraduate and graduate student. It was here that I actually met my husband! He is a sixth-grade teacher at the same school our younger children attend. In 1999, I earned my bachelor of arts in liberal studies degree with a concentration in K-12 English. Shortly after, I received my California Clear teaching credential and Lutheran Teaching Certificate. In 2006, I earned my master of arts in education in curriculum and instruction alongside my husband. I am currently an Ed.D. candidate with Capella University working on my dissertation. My project focuses on enhancing mental health support and resources in higher education, specifically graduate and doctoral students learning online.

Tell us a little about yourself. Why did you become interested in education?

I can honestly say that I have dreamed of being a teacher for as long as I can remember. One of the first Christmas gifts I asked for as a young child was a chalkboard for my bedroom. My parents have old photos of me dressed up in my mom’s high heels and “teaching” my stuffed animals. To this day, I consider myself a lifelong learner. I love the learning process and thinking “outside the box.” I always enjoyed school as a child. I have always loved to read, both fiction and nonfiction. I love writing imaginary stories and poetry.

Yet, above all, I absolutely loved teaching children over the years…and now adults, too! I loved working in afterschool programs and daycares while in high school and college. I am the proud mom of three children, aged 14, 12, and 9. Supporting them in their learning has always been a passion of mine, and continues to be one of my prized vocations.

What would you tell prospective students considering your program about yourself? What’s something that students and colleagues should know about you?

I consider myself to be a humble, encouraging leader, and I am deeply dedicated to my role as both Director and full-time faculty member in the educational technology program. Yet I also have an insatiable desire to continue learning new things and grow in my skills as a scholar, researcher, professor, and leader. I enjoy engaging in discussions and collaborating on projects. I take pleasure in learning with (and from) my students! Yet, most of all, I absolutely love sharing my faith in God with my students. I love praying for them and being a source of encouragement to them. For this is where my true passion lies.

What advice do you have for students interested in pursuing their master’s educational technology degree? How can people stand out in this field?

My advice would be to get involved! Be courageous and willing to try new things. Learn from your colleagues at your school or district who may be exploring new tools or apps within their own teaching. Educational technology is all about engaging our students using innovative, multi-sensory, hands-on, collaborative, timely/applicable learning experiences.

In this field, in order to be noticed, educators and district leaders need to network and get their names out there. One way to accomplish this is to attend ed. tech. conferences, such as CUE and ISTE. Once you feel comfortable attending conferences, then I would suggest applying to present at a session. Be confident in what you have learned and be willing to share tips and tools with fellow educators. Be inspiring! Be passionate! Get your name out there and be a blessing to others!

Is there anything else you would like to share?

I would encourage our prospective graduate students to keep growing and learning. To truly embrace the growth mindset of Dr. Carol Dweck. Explore her updated book here. Rather than staying comfortable or stagnant, I would suggest going online and following ed. tech. leaders who may be inspiring to you. My personal list of favorite influencers include Matt Miller, Jennifer Gonzalez, and Alice Keeler. I would also include Bill Selak and Ramsey Musallam on that list…both are adjunct instructors within our very own Ed. Tech. program. Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions about CUI as a whole, or our Educational Technology M.A.Ed. program. I am always happy to chat!