For postgraduate learners wanting to increase both their independence and autonomy, online learning is an approach to consider. However, it is likely that you may not have experienced learning online before, and have only some loosely woven myths to use to inform you when making your decision about where and how to study. This article aims to take 5 myths and then crash them using the knowledge and experience of staff and students who have specialised in learning and teaching using online methods.
Myths are generally rooted in the beliefs of the culture that creates them. They emanate from our experience of the world around us, and the ways in which we are shaped by this. Generally they represent the ways in which we explain the origins and workings of important parts of our world such as why we live and work as we do, for example, the process, purpose and value of education. Just take a few moments and create a mental sense of yourself learning: notice where you are, with whom, and what you need to do to learn.
For many of us considering postgraduate study, our previous experience of education was of classrooms where face-to-face teaching took place in a bricks and mortar building, surrounded by classmates and teachers. You may assume these to be essential when thinking about returning to study. Consequently, in order to study online, which requires the use of a computer, you may imagine that you will have to be a computer expert; be isolated; find it expensive or that it will be easier and quicker than traditional on-campus study. You may think that your Award won’t be recognised or taken seriously. These are some of the myths about online learning that can now be crashed.
To get started on a University of Derby Online Learning (UDOL) course, you will need to have a basic understanding of how to work a computer, but you certainly don’t need to be an expert. At UDOL we understand that our students need different types and levels of support throughout their studies which is why we have a dedicated team of Online Learner Advisors to assist with non-academic queries such as IT or funding plus additional technical support from the University of Derby’s IT team.
At UDOL we firmly believe that our students achieve more through interaction and collaboration with their fellow students and staff. We pride ourselves on our courses being interactive. Within the first week of teaching on any of our modules you will be encouraged to complete ice-breaker activities which may include Learning Sets where you work through the module as part of a small group. Included in all of our courses are online social spaces where students can talk to each other (virtual cafes); discussion forums for conversations with academics; and also live webinars with your academic team.
Your computer will be the primary gateway to a whole community of students, from around the world. You will constantly interact with them, at your own pace and time, whilst supported by a professional academic team who are all experienced in online learning. You will engage in different virtual worlds, learn through videos, read the latest publications through our e-library and work through bespoke learning materials produced by our expert academic team.
Being a UDOL student means you are also a student with the University of Derby which includes additional levels of support such as well-being and careers advice – you’ll also receive a Student ID card when you enrol. If you are visiting or live in or around Derby, you are welcome to come and use the facilities at our campuses – the library at our Kedleston Road campus provides a quiet haven for studying and research. Finally, if you’ve successfully completed a Bachelors degree or postgraduate qualification, you’ll be invited to attend the University’s Graduation. See what our recent graduates had to say about attending graduation.
Our students tell us that one thing they love about online learning is that they don’t have to spend time or money travelling to lectures or seminars on-campus at University. This is particularly useful for people in remote parts of the world or if you live in a busy and expensive city.
Our course fees are very competitive and we offer payment plans to help students finance their studies. Depending on where you live, there are student loans and additional finance options available.
Taking an online course with UDOL will provide you with more flexibility, in terms of when and where you study, but it requires just as much work as completing a full-time degree on-campus. In some respects, online learners need to be more disciplined, motivated and organised than a traditional on-campus student as they are usually juggling a job, family and social commitments at the same time. For many of our students, being able to complete their degree through online learning has enabled them to achieve a life-long ambition, progress their career or change careers altogether. Due to their busy lifestyles, without the flexibility of online learning, achieving a university qualification would have been impossible.
An online degree is exactly the same as an on-campus university degree. In fact our degrees are awarded by the University of Derby. The only thing that is different is the mode of study. Our courses adhere to the same rigorous standards as on-campus degrees – they are the same quality from the same awarding institution and are recognised in the same way by industry. If you are an international student, online learning allows you to achieve a recognised UK university qualification without having to leave your home country. In fact, in 2014/15, over 41% of our students were from overseas.
Degrees obtained by studying online are equally as accepted by employers as traditional classroom based degrees. Gaining a postgraduate degree online can also be of value to employers, as you will develop more autonomy during the course which in turn will enable your progression professionally. Many of our courses are accredited by professional organisations such as The British Psychological Society, The Institute of Hospitality, The Chartered Institute for Environmental Health and Chartered Management Institute.
Hopefully you now realise that the myths of online learning certainly don’t apply to studying with an organisation such as UDOL. We are firmly part of the UK based Higher Education sector and are subject to all its controls and requirements. Not only that, but our academics are carefully selected because of their experience, skills and passion for online learning. We genuinely want people to achieve and do well. To make that happen, all you need to do is find a course that’s right for you, ensure you have access to a computer and the internet and believe that with hard work and determination, you could be attending a graduation ceremony with your friends and family to celebrate your success.
Susan Brock works as the Lead in Learning Enhancement at UDOL.
For more information about the University of Derby Online Learning visit www.derby.ac.uk/online. We’re now recruiting for May 2016 – apply online.
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