A Q&A with online MA Education student Ben Cain.
Can you talk a little bit about yourself and your background?
I have been teaching since 1987 when I first taught reception infants in large classes. I worked with Primary school-age children for the next 18 years in schools all over England. I was Deputy Head of a school in Chigwell Essex, then decided on a dramatic change and swapped to teach Secondary Science in a local comprehensive school. I had qualified with a degree in Chemistry and education and decided to use this degree and share my knowledge and understanding with an older age group. As it turned out, this was a great move because I loved teaching GCSE and A level sciences. I carried on teaching there for the next 8 years until I took early retirement from full-time teaching, and now I tutor students in the evenings. It’s a very fulfilling career that I enjoyed almost every day!
What prompted you to pursue an online MA Education? Specifically, why was online appealing to you?
I had been looking for an MA programme for quite some time. I had already completed a PGDip but not felt completely academically satisfied and always thought I could do more. I searched for some time and considered attending a university, but what with travel and other commitments, I couldn't find the time. The online MA Education at Exeter appealed to me because it gives me the autonomy I was looking for with study but has a structure that is set. Yet the flexibility is built in. The online side means that I am able to complete the modules at my own pace and time, and it means I am able to plan when and where I do the work and the reading without having the travel commitments that a university-based course would have had.
What has the experience been like? Was it what you thought it would be like and has it met your expectations?
The overall experience so far has been excellent. I have been able to interact with the university tutors, and the support services have been excellent. The module activities have been very thought-provoking and challenging but have taken my thought processes to new directions and depths. Also, interacting with fellow MA students from around the world has been quite fantastic. I have a much better understanding of how teaching works in many world regions now than I did before. The course so far has far exceeded my expectations and has given me new insights and inspirations.
If you were giving someone who was considering an online course advice, what would it be?
For anyone considering an online course, I understand the trepidation and the feeling that you are all alone but my experience could not be more different. The university is just a call or email away, andthere is both support and guidance should you need it. I say, go for it!
Would you recommend the Exeter program and if so what aspects of the course do you find appealing?
I would highly recommend the Exeter MA online programme because of the diversity of students and the course structure, which leads but is not prescriptive and gives a great deal of flexibility to the student. The modules are well thought out and lead to a more thorough understanding of educational issues around the world and also in your own context. The individual activities have their challenges but are also very formative in their range and depth. There is a lot of reading, but it is mostly very interesting and is key to working on the summative assessments that make up the grading system for the degree.
Is there anything you’d like to add or anything you’d like to talk about that we did not touch on?
I just want to say how much I have grown intellectually and how my depth of understanding of issues around the world has developed. Thanks Exeter for opening the world of education to me.