our online Early Childhood Studies course video transcript

Hello everyone and welcome to today's webinar about studying the early childhood studies online top up with the University of Derby Online Learning. My name is Jenny Boldrin and I'm academic lead for the programme and I'll be leading today's presentation.

So a little bit about me to start with. As academic lead for the online programme I work closely with all of the lecturers on the design and delivery of their modules and work to lead and support the successful running of the programme. I've been at the university for 10 years this year teaching on a range of early years programmes and my professional background before that was also in the earliest sector specifically within private nurseries and the local authority. As part of the academic teaching team at the university I'm actively involved in research as are all team members and my recent research interests lie specifically with the experiences and needs of previously looked after children and their families.

Of course, I'm joined by a range of professionals who make up the early childhood studies teaching team. And you can see them on the slide before you now so from left to right we have Judith Genesee, Carol Fenton, Dr Helen Simmons, Ellen Yates, Dr Kate Ewen, Alister Terville, Sue Wall, Emma Twigg who is also our on-campus programme Leader for Early Childhood Studies and then myself next to Emma at the end there.

Each team member brings a subject specialism to their practice which reflects the multidisciplinary nature of childhood studies ranging from community support, psychology, health education and early years. The modules on the programme have been authored by the team member who leads that module on campus which ensures that they can draw on their professional experiences and subject specialism to bring you current and critical content within each module you study.

So over the next 20 minutes or so I'm going to be talking you through some of the core components of the program, including what it looks like to study early childhood studies online, what we feel makes our programme unique and how we know that we're doing a good job, including what our students tell us and what they go on to do after graduation.

So the online programme is structured over a trimester system, meaning that you would be studying through three trimesters or terms across the year beginning in September January and May. On a standard rate of study you would complete one 20 credit module during each trimester which requires approximately 20 hours of study each week. On this rate of study, the top-up would take two years to complete. We do also have an accelerated study option available which allows you to take two modules at the same time and complete the course in one year. Naturally, by taking the accelerated rate, you would be committing to 40 hours of study each week so we do advise that this route is only really appropriate for those who are have a significant amount of time to be able to commit to studying each week.

So this is our current study pattern for the standard rate of study. You would work towards five core modules over a two-year period. Modules have been chosen to reflect the breadth of the sector and give you an opportunity to explore multiple theoretical and professional areas.

So during the first year we begin with Child Protection in the autumn which provides a fundamental basis for professionally exploring child protection from a critical perspective.

Following child protection, you move on to Contesting Childhood in the spring which offers you the opportunity to explore critical and contested perspectives of childhood. During this module you would explore global constructions of childhood and work in groups to deliver an assessed presentation as part of a student conference. And that is something that is a real landmark moment in the programme. And it's always something that brings students together and really celebrates the diverse backgrounds that students are coming from and the specialisms that they feel they have to share.

Year one then ends with leadership, which explores leadership theories and styles and asks you to consider the critical challenges of leadership within the earliest sector specifically.

So you begin your second year then with a 40-credit module which runs from September through to April through two trimesters. The Independent Study is your opportunity to conduct a piece of independently chosen research with the support of a research supervisor. So a really excellent opportunity for you to consider some things that you have a real professional interest in and and explore independently with our support. And then finally you draw the threads of your experiences together with critically reflective practitioner which encourages you to reflect on your progress both academically and professionally.

Over the course of the programme, if you were to choose the accelerated rate of study, then this model condenses to one year with two modules completed at the same time, beginning with child protection and leadership before moving on to contesting childhood. And the start of the independent study in spring and then finishing in summer with the critically reflective practitioner and the culmination of your independence study.

We currently have one intake a year, which is in September.

So, what makes Early Childhood so special? We are aware that this programme needs to be rooted in the professional and theoretical nature of childhood. As such, we endeavour to reach out beyond the University's physical and virtual campuses and provide opportunities for students to engage in wider conversations. And there are regular opportunities therefore to attend conferences hosted either by the University of Derby and other institutions, providing opportunities to connect with current research that's taking place within the sector.

We also regularly welcome visiting speakers to the University itself, both within the early childhood studies programme or the wider childhood discipline. These opportunities are available to online students as well as campus-based students to benefit from through live streaming or lecture recording.

As an early childhood studies degree, we are also members of the early childhood studies degrees network, which is a professional body responsible for advocacy and promoting best practice within the sector, including through early childhood studies degrees. As an early childhood studies student, you would have the opportunity to submit your work to be published through the network, which has happened with online students previously. It's an excellent way of of showcasing the excellent work that our students do.

So here are some examples of the recent conferences that we've hosted both for on-campus and online students over the past two years. All events promote a range of speakers to share their specialisms from inclusion to outdoor learning and curriculum areas such as literacy. And also a real focus on professionalism within the earliest workforce through some of our speakers as well. And these are things that our online students have fed back very positively about. These opportunities to engage in these wider conversations with professionals who are working within the sector, it's certainly a very much celebrated part of the programme.

You don't need to simply rely on me telling you why I think the course is special. Our students can tell you themselves. So Danielle is one of our international students and was part of the first cohort of students to enter the programme here. Danielle has hit on a number of things that we're really proud of. So she talks about the enthusiasm of the teaching team, the support that we offer through through your studies, and lastly the passion that we bring to our teaching, which I think is something that every single member of our team would be incredibly proud of. We're very dedicated and passionate advocates for children and we endeavour to bring that to absolutely every single module that we deliver and inspire that within the students that are working with us on the programme.

We also had a number of results that we're incredibly proud of in the latest University of Derby survey. So amongst many other areas of higher results, these were a few that we pinpointed that we felt really illustrated what we were about on the early childhood studies degree programme. So 100% of the students that engaged with that survey agreed that they had received sufficient advice and guidance and support in relation to their course. 100% of the students that took part agreed that the course is well organised and run smoothly. And the figure we're most proud of is 100% of the students that engage were satisfied with the quality of the programme. So they're really clear indications for us that we're doing what we should be doing and that students are happy. And we do take regular opportunities to listen to the student voice and hear feedback to make sure that we are adapting practice where necessary or meeting the wide-ranging needs of the students that engage with our programme.

As Danielle alluded to in her testimonial, we are an international programme and currently support students in a range of places across the globe. We love the multiple perspectives that brings and the variety of insights we gain from an international student body and we see it as being a really core strength of our programme.

So the module content is structured over 10 units of work. So each module has 10 units of work housed within it which are all live and available to you once you begin the module. So this means that you can work at your own pace and balance your learning with other commitments such as work and family.

Content is a mixture of text, interactive activities, which you can see some examples of on the slide in front of you, and sometimes digital materials, such as embedded videos that give you a broader and deeper understanding of the subject that we're exploring. All materials are designed in collaboration with a learning design team within the University of Derby online learning and enable you to meet the learning outcomes for each module, crucially, and also complete the required assessment. Tutors are available throughout each week and each unit of study to provide feedback on the tasks that you're engaging with and support your learning progress.

Following successful completion of the course, you may do a number of different things. And we are finding from our first cohort of students who are just about to complete that they are heading off in a number of different directions. So it might be that you engage in further study, that you enter the workforce into a career working with children and families across a range of different disciplines. As I said previously, we are a multi-disciplinary programme, which means our students are prepared at the end of the programme to enter a number of different professions working with children and families. Or it might be that you simply develop more confidence to be able to attain higher positions within your current employment. And we've just pinpointed a few of the areas that our students go towards.

And so our on-campus programme has been running now for 23 years so we know we can catch up with students after they've finished, our alumni, and find out what it is that they're doing in practice. And these are some of the things and some of the journeys those students have been on. So we know that some students go towards health services and we have students who perhaps want to work closely with communities and with families and they work in family liaison roles. We have students who've gone towards children's law and gone on to do further training around legal practices, and specifically focusing on on children and families. Of course, we have students who go to work with children with special educational needs. So there's a really broad range of different career opportunities that are available as a result of an early childhood studies degree.

Throughout your studies and afterwards you have access to our team of careers advisors who can support you to navigate your intended careers path. And they're an incredibly useful resource as part of the the programme.

Of course, many go on to further training, not straight into a career. So we know that there are students who go towards perhaps primary teaching and students who go towards social work qualifications or perhaps embark on a number of different options within masters level study. So we do have masters programmes available online through the University of Derby. And, as part of the final critically reflective practitioner module, you are encouraged to start to think about what might be coming next for you, whether that's further training with that careers development and really try and utilise the teams that are available at the University to help you in making some of those fundamental decisions.

So finally then just to finish off this presentation a little bit about your virtual campus.

So online learning is both independently driven by you but also firmly connected to the wider community of academic study at the University of Derby. So we know from student feedback that creating a space to study and protecting time for yourself is a really important part of success. And, because you are driving a lot of your learning independently yourself, with it being an online programme, we know that you carving out that time for yourself is a really fundamental part of you being successful. We also encourage you to complement that independent work with regular opportunities to engage and interact with your peers and us as academics. And I'll talk a bit more about that in a moment. And we communicate regularly with you and provide frequent opportunities for you to come together with us and with each other for support assignments are a requirement for each module. And we encourage you to be utilising some of your study time each week to be working towards them. So where we say 20 hours of study per week for each module, that's a combination of engaging with the unit activities and the content that we've provided, working on your assignments, doing independent reading. It's a number of different things that make up those hours and we very much encourage you week by week to be thinking about those final assignments that need to be completed.

So as I've just alluded to, the learning community is a really important aspect of what we do within our online provision. And it's largely structured around some core aspects of the teaching and learning model which are consistent through all of the modules that you'll study. So you'll see a very similar model for each module that you come across so there's consistency for you.

So we have discussion forum spaces which are closely linked to the learning activities for each module and enable you to respond to questions and learn from your peers. So some activities will require you to post in a discussion forum and then your peers or tutors can provide feedback. And space is also available on the forums for just questions regarding assessments or learning requirements and that's something that tutors monitor throughout the week and can respond to.

Tutors are also available via email for more personal questions that you don't want to post on a forum. And it's worth pointing out as well that all students on the beginning of the programme are assigned a personal academic tutor who provides more holistic advice and guidance on academic progress, perhaps career support and advice regarding accessing maybe wider services such as wellbeing if they are required.

So, as well as the authored content which is available at the beginning of the module, there are also a number of live sessions built into the module delivery. So there are opportunities to meet face to face with your tutor and your peers, talk through assessments, ask questions, receive advice regarding study - a number of different things we explore through those live sessions. They are organised and advertised within the module space and crucially all sessions are recorded for those unable to attend. We do acknowledge that, when we're working across different time zones, it can be difficult to plan sessions that are convenient for everybody. So those sessions are always recorded and available for people to watch afterwards. And we also like to meet one to one with you throughout modules. So you can arrange individual tutorials and with your module teaching team at times that are convenient to yourself and your tutor to discuss your learning, discuss the assessments and again ask questions that you might have.

I hope you've gathered so far that support is an integral part of our offer. So, whether it be academic support from the programme team, including module leaders, or your personal tutor or perhaps non-academic support through our team of online learning advisors, there are multiple different avenues of support available to you depending on your needs. We also have access to wider services such as the library, which is obviously a really important part of the programme, as well as the careers team that I've mentioned. And also a really fantastic wellbeing team that can support you if you feel like you have some kind of more personal needs that are impacting your learning. We might advise that you speak to wellbeing and they can put support strategies in place for you to make sure that you can be as successful as possible and work towards your full potential.

As I've mentioned, the online library is one such service which is fantastic and an essential component of your studies. All materials that you're signposted to throughout all of the modules will be available through the online library, whether it's journal articles, ebooks, they'll all be available to you electronically. Of course, we encourage you to then read beyond the materials we recommend and discover your own path of research. And you can utilise all of the resources that are available on the online library to be able to do that.

The library team also offer a range of really fantastic online workshops on things like how to make most of the online library as well as a range of study skills. So if, for example, you've not studied for some time and have concerns about picking it up again, you won't be alone. Many, many students who enter online study feel the same. There is support available through these online workshops, which focus on things like academic writing, referencing, how to how to do effective library searches to find materials and getting into good study habits. So a number of different things. The library is not just about finding a book. There's a number of different services within that library that can support you to be successful.

The reading lists for Early Childhood Studies are really carefully constructed by our team to provide a broad and critical overview of early childhood. So the books and journals that we signpost you to are intended for you to be able to explore global multidisciplinary perspectives of childhood and really allow you to grow academically over the course of the programme. So the reading lists are available to you obviously throughout the module delivery. And we very much encourage you to be actively reading through that reading list as you progress so that you can broaden your own knowledge and understanding. And finally, even though you've studied online, you get the chance to attend a graduation ceremony in the UK. These take place twice a year in July and November and it's always a fabulous day where you can really celebrate your achievements with your friends and family as well as meet your fellow students and the academics have supported you along the journey. And it's excellent for us to be able to to meet you in person when we've been communicating with you through a screen. So this is a really brilliant opportunity for you to be able to come together and celebrate.

So, if you are interested in finding out more, I would suggest that you have a look at the website, which is derby.ac.uk/online. If you search for early childhood studies, you will find the online top-up. And it will talk you through entry criteria, course fees, when the next intake is, everything hopefully that you should need to know is housed on the website.

However, I would also like to say that I'm very happy to answer course-related questions myself so please look out for our regularly scheduled live Q&A sessions which will be opportunities for you to join us on an online live chat and ask any questions that you might have that are specific to you. Or please feel free to email me directly and my email address is on the screen there it's j.boldrin@derby.ac.uk. And I'm very happy to talk to you about any particular questions you might have about your own study journey.

And so that's it from me. Thank you very much for taking the time to listen to this presentation and I will hopefully see you at some point on the programme.

Our online Early Childhood Studies course video

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