Can you talk a little about yourself and your background?
Whilst I was born and raised in Canada, I have lived in England for many years, and I am fortunate to have dual citizenship. During my career, I have taught in Canada, Moscow, Kyiv, Chili, and Saudi Arabia, with the last eight years at a junior school in Hampshire. I am the Art Lead for my school with a particular interest in Reading and Writing.
What prompted you to pursue an online programme with University of Exeter? Specifically, why was online appealing to you?
In researching universities that offer a Master of Arts in Education, the University of Exeter looked a good choice since it advertised a completely online experience. Also, the university has a good reputation and is part of the Russell Group of UK universities. I was pleased that the programme I chose has different pathways, so I was able to explore my interest in Literacy in more depth.
What has the experience been like? Was it what you thought it would be like and has it met your expectations?
The online experience is outstanding. Imagine having all the resources you need to be successful, at your fingertips. The online library was easy to access but if you ever ran into difficulty finding a book or an article, a librarian was always quick to help with a pop-up chat. You can book appointments with a librarian for help in researching a topic and there are a variety of remote tutorials to help with your writing skills.
Each module has weekly activities, centred around a topic with interesting tasks to complete. Students can work collaboratively or independently with the option to upload written work to a shared space and keep notes in your own private online journal. What I found particularly helpful, when I found a concept difficult, was reading over tutor and student comments which were posted online as part of the weekly activities. It always amazed me when tutors would take the time to respond meaningfully to numerous class members comments, and they were always positive and helpful. At the end of each weekly topic, tutors would sum up the week’s activities which would help with any misconceptions, and they posted an introduction at the start of each week.
I found the module handbooks invaluable and every question, you could possibly have about your course would be outlined in this manual. It was helpful that assignments were explained thoroughly, with guidance about what was necessary to include for each assignment. If you were unclear about any assessments, tutors were quick to help and clarify any misunderstandings. I personally appreciated the in-depth feedback given when assignments were marked which helped me to develop as a critical writer.
For me, working on my masters coincided with some difficulties in my personal life. Losing three close family members within a short period of time, combined with a demanding and busy job, and studying part-time became challenging. Student well-being is important to the university, and this is obvious with their sensitive, empathetic, and proactive approach for vulnerable students. The university should be commended for the sheer volume of resources available to help students who are finding life hard.
If you were giving someone who was considering an online course advice, what would it be?
Make sure you join in with the on-line discussions which will make you feel part of a community. Try to put aside fifteen hours per week to devote to your course. Removing some parts of your life (for me it was spending less time on my phone and less time watching tv) and do a bit of work every day. I found if I started working on the weekly activities early in the week, it put me in a position where I was not scrabbling to catch up. The required readings are interesting and ultimately support and enhance your teaching.
Would you recommend the Exeter programme and if so what aspects of the course do you find appealing?
I would highly recommend the Exeter online Master of Arts in Education programme. The university is committed to making sure their students succeed. For me, what was helpful was the regular call from my course tutor to see how I was. It was as though he had a sixth sense and seemed to realise, I needed that encouragement to push on. Equally, my dissertation supervisor went above and beyond in helping me reach my goals. She was positive, truthful, and encouraging. I cannot stress enough the importance of keeping in touch with your supervisor, listening to their advice and acting upon it.
Is there anything you ‘d like to add or anything you’d like to talk about that we did not touch on?
I honestly cannot praise the university enough. If anyone is interested in pursuing a Master of Arts in Education, the University of Exeter is the place to go.