Not got time to go into the classroom but still want to study a postgraduate course? Then why not consider distance learning and study online, whenever you want and in your own time.
Still need some convincing? An alumni of online learning and a lecturer from University of Liverpool Online share their stories and explain why you should do it too...
As a Director managing over 100 teachers in an education business, Tom was well aware of the importance of using education to upskill.
Driven by the desire to set up his own business and having previously studied online before, he decided to embark on the online MBA programme.
"One of the main reasons for choosing to study for my MBA online was because it offered me the flexibility that I needed with my demanding schedule, and as a family man, taking time out from my career was not financially viable."
He was well aware of the challenges and the dedication required for studying online but this was outweighed by the immediate benefits he could see. "Apart from the financial reward, the MBA has given me great credibility and has allowed me to open new avenues of work and build strong, profitable relationships. The great thing is that I now have a licence to explore areas that are off limit to those studying for a Masters degree."
Studying for the MBA allowed me to pursue my research interest in how people can move around the world and consistently build good relationships, no matter the cultural difference. "My dissertation was on ‘Investigating Cultural Intelligence in Business Leadership Development in the Mexican Preparatory System’. I was inspired to explore the ways in which leadership capability in Mexican students can be enhanced and how they can be more competitive in the global leadership market."
And of course there was no better place to investigate this than studying in a global classroom, “It was fascinating to collaborate with others from different cultures and getting a different perspective was invaluable.”
Currently working as a freelance Academic and Training Consultant, Scott wants to progress within the education arena; aiming to open his own company in the education sector and doing consultancy for education projects.
How Has Online Learning Evolved?
When we started online programmes some 12 years ago, the programmes were very linear and text based. Students followed a pattern of study that was the same regardless of the discipline or the content of the module.
We now use a ‘social constructivist’ model to structure our online learning programmes and this means students discuss the content they’ve read and make sense of it through discussion and create new understanding and knowledge. This discussion element is still the central feature of our courses and is now supplemented by visual media such as video, short online lectures and other web-based materials.
Any Future Developments?
The development and widespread engagement with social media has had a significant impact on online learning. Many of our students set up Facebook groups to discuss the work and to interact socially, so we’d like to bring more social media features into the online classrooms in the future.
What are the Benefits of Online Learning?
Students can pursue their study while working and maintaining other commitments. Our programmes are aimed at working professionals who are looking to develop their careers and cannot afford the financial outlay or the impact on their careers that taking a year off would entail.
In addition, online students can engage with and learn from fellow students in different parts of the world. For example, students studying public health can discuss health care systems from different parts of the globe, and this can really add to the value of the learning.
What Have Been the Big Changes in Online Learning?
I think there’s been a big change in the expectations of online students. Advances in social media and digital technology give students an expectation for the quality and range of learning material that they will engage with.
However, this technological development has also meant that producing high quality and innovative material is more accessible. We can send a technician with a hand held camera to interview one of our research stars, and students can be engaging virtually with the content the next day!
What Can Students Expect from Your Online Programmes?
When students log on they’ll see the other members of the class listed as well as the teacher. They will also see the materials broken up into weeks with a suggested pattern of study. The materials will be a mixture of short online lectures, videos and reading material.
The students will then be expected to discuss what they read and learned with the other students. The online faculty will be answering questions, commenting on the discussions and helping to clarify concepts and ideas.