Image: Online MA Education student Ronan O'Connor

Why did you choose to study online?

Studying online enabled me to study when and where I wanted and at my own pace -  I started the course whilst living and working in Milan, Italy. Studying online has enabled me to experience first-hand, some of the experiences and challenges that learners I teach will have to face in the future, which has informed my own professional practice even further.

What made you want to study this course?

I looked into a variety of Masters courses from universities in the UK and abroad. The stand out aspect of this course for me was the variety of modules on offer. You can opt to stay on a general MA in Education or go for a more specialist pathway. This flexibility, and the ability to change (under the guidance of the course managers and administrators - which is excellent!) between the two, depending on how your options evolve is excellent. This course enabled me to gather together learning from previous modules and combine it with my professional practice and the desire to find new solutions to improve teaching and learning in my workplace.

Why did you choose University of Derby Online?

Firstly, the selection of modules on the University of Derby course was far more interesting and varied than other MA Education degrees. Secondly, many courses required a certain amount of residential time, this is not practical for many students who have to balance work or family commitments, especially so if you are working abroad and have to factor in travel and living expenses for up to two weeks a semester. Finally, the course fees provide excellent value for money. I really see this as a small price to pay for the standard of tuition from a university with a good track record in education and learning online.

What did you like most about studying online?

One of the best things about this particular course is the way the modules blend theory with the ability to apply it to your specific context, whilst engaging with peers who bring a wealth of different experiences to the forums. There are professionals from various continents, with a variety of backgrounds sharing their wide ranging experience. Hearing the views of other teachers or educators in the USA, China or a host of other countries helps you to appreciate and develop new perspectives. This means that you are not only learning from the tutors, the activities you engage with or your own reading but also from the lively discussions on the forums, wikis or online sessions. 

How were you supported throughout the course? 

The level of support is fantastic. Tutors manage the forums well instigating talking points, picking up on the level of understanding and guiding discussions. Tutors offer great encouragement and really value your opinions, experience and insight. As each learner brings something totally different to the course you are treated like an individual and your input is valued and appreciated.

How did you interact with other students on the course?

The contact during the forum discussions is really good; you get a sense of where people are from, the experiences they have in their professional life and you value their ideas. Some tutors have had students start off by asking them to introduce themselves in the 'café' part of the forum and this helps break the ice.

What impact is this course having or has it had on your career?

The course had an immediate impact on my professional practice. I believe I have learnt and developed not just knowledge but real skills I apply every day. Be it from a new approach to teaching grammar to ESL students to my improved analytical and research skills that I have applied to other aspects of my work. For one of the modules I developed a scheme of learning using new techniques I learnt on the course, this improved not just my teaching but the way I was perceived in a new school. Since then I have had various promotions and have moved to a new job in Germany. The study I have completed so far was fundamental in this and has been behind a recent promotion - a have strengthened my 'can do' attitude and have not just the practical experience but the theoretical knowledge so that I have moved into a senior role after only a short time at the school.

Would you recommend online study to others, and why?

If you want to improve your knowledge, your understanding and your career opportunities then this form of study is brilliant! Online study can be difficult. You must be self motivated and willing to engage with a variety of challenges. However, if you can do this (and your tutors and peers will support you!) Then the process can be extremely rewarding!

If I had to sum up my online learning experience in one word it would be 'Motivating'.