Mark Zoellner keeps his video lessons interesting with a collection of hats.

Mark Zoellner DMLC ’90 says he could not have chosen a better time to invest in a master’s degree, especially one with an emphasis in educational technology.

“Wow!” he says. “The impact has been incredible, especially with the COVID-19 pandemic. My MLC courses prepared me for the incredible challenge of transitioning from traditional learning to distance learning in exactly two days.”

In fact, as he and his faculty at Bloomington Lutheran in the Twin Cities stepped into distance learning, EDU5005 Teaching Online appeared as the next course on his course calendar. The timing was incredible.

“My MLC courses completely prepared me to go 100% digital in my instruction,” he says, “and be a leader on my faculty to assist those who needed some assistance.”

Of course, when he began the program, Mark didn’t know just how valuable—crucial, really—a  deeper knowledge of technology would be. He chose an ed tech emphasis because he loves cool tools.

“I’ve always been drawn to gadgets and tools,” he says, “and in my ministry, I tried to lead and have the coolest tools in my classroom for my students.”

Soon he was assisting other faculty members with their cool tools as well. “My school needed someone to step up and help bring in new educational tools, so I started installing smartboards, projectors, and whatever my colleagues needed. My principal, Kurt Schmidt, was super supportive and was willing to invest in technology for teachers who were willing to implement the technology in their instruction.”

Through his 30-year ministry, Mark has watched how technology has transformed education in so many ways. For the sake of his students, he did not want to fall behind or miss any opportunity. “My goal,” he says, “is to stay on the cutting edge with my ability to utilize that technology with my students.”

When the time was right to pursue graduate study, he knew immediately what and where to study: Educational Technology at Martin Luther College.

“MLC was such a great choice for my master’s degree,” he says, “because the purpose and mission of the college is exactly the same as my own.”

He found other benefits at MLC as well: “The program is flexible, affordable, and directly applies to my ministry.”

Flexibility has been crucial. As a full-time teacher, year-round coach, athletic director, and technology coordinator, Mark doesn’t have time to spare.

But he says, “MLC’s master’s program has made it possible to find time to complete coursework. It is very challenging, but it would have not been possible without the amazing professors. These professors are in the trenches and are high quality professional Christian educators.”

Zoellner will graduate in 2022, but he’s already promoting the program to others. “There is no better place to pursue your master’s degree than MLC, and there is no time like the present to get started. You will not be disappointed. Everyone involved in the process will collaborate with you on your journey and help you be successful.”

Personal: “We are a family of servants,” Mark says. “My wife, Amy, teaches 4th grade at our Living Hope campus in Shakopee. My son Seth and his wife, Amber, are both teachers in Milwaukee. Amy and I welcomed our first grandchild, Daniel Craig, right before Christmas. My son Aaron works in education and counsels high school students in Iowa.”

Mark’s assignment after graduating from DMLC in 1990 was King of Kings-Garden Grove CA, where he served until 1995. He’s been at Bloomington Lutheran ever since, where he says he’s been “blessed with great staff, students, and families.”

Written by Laurie Gauger-Hested