Image: Student Joy RickardHaving two young children and a business to run wasn’t enough to put Joy Rickard off her dream of pursuing a career as an Educational Psychologist, even if it meant returning to university.

After becoming frustrated with the lack of scope for flexible study that local universities offered, Joy soon realised that online study was the only feasible option if she was to fit it in around school hours, terms times and a host of other commitments.

Joy said: “There was no way I would have been able to give up my current commitments and attend university full time so I had to find an option that would adapt to my current lifestyle. I realised that online study was the only option that would provide the flexibility that I needed.

Appealing course structure

The way Derby’s course was structured also appealed to Joy, who began her studies in summer 2012.

“I like the modular approach, as it gives more of that all-important flexibility! It means I can adjust my study as I go to fit around other commitments. One term I found myself with more spare time so could fit in two modules, then the following term I was very busy so just took one module.”

Students who opt to study through the University of Derby Online Learning have access to high quality resources and learning materials, just as they would do if they were studying onsite.

“I really enjoy studying online and think the resources provided are excellent. I can access learning material as and when it’s convenient for me and the forum is used effectively as an interactive space in which discussions and ideas can develop. I’ve also been impressed with the scope of the digital library, both for books and journals, and this is something that I think makes a big difference to the success of the course.”

Supportive and experienced online tutors

In addition to these resources students also receive support and guidance from highly experienced tutors.

“I’ve had a mixture of tutors, some who regularly check forum threads and ask questions to extend discussions and others whose approach is to let me get on with my work with little input from them unless I ask so I’m always challenged, which is good.”

Online learning is becoming increasingly popular with busy professionals looking to advance their career or develop their skills. The flexibility offered makes studying online the ideal choice, as Joy has found out.

“The best thing about studying online is the flexibility; being able to find exactly the right course for me and being able to work at my own pace.

“I’m self-employed so time management is always a bit of a challenge. I’ve found it best to try and timetable my week – dividing it between my regular commitments, work and study. As long as I complete the course work for each week it’s never a problem and I find I can fit everything in.

What would you say to anyone thinking of studying online with Derby?

“I’d definitely recommend online study through the University of Derby Online Learning to friends and family; it has provided me with a good route to achieving my goals and I also think that it’s good value for money – the perfect combination.”