Joanna Ainsworth, Master of Arts Education

Joanna Ainsworth, Master of Arts Education

Master of Arts Education

Can you talk a little bit about yourself and your background?

I am a mature student, full-time mother of three boys and a part time teacher at a Montessori school. I am British and have lived in Switzerland with my family since 2006.

  • 1991 I graduated from Reading university with a BA degree in fine art and art history. Following graduation, I lived in London, UK working in various different Arts establishments.
  • 2004 to 2014 I took time out of my career choosing to spend this time at home with my three boys. I was in the fortunate position of being able to do so.
  • 2006 I moved with my expanding family to Switzerland where we have lived and worked to this day.
  • 2014 prompted me to return to studies - still using my Arts qualifications but in the different direction of Education. Wishing to study using my mother tongue language of English, I enrolled on a distance learning diploma in Montessori Pedagogy an establishment in London.

Upon completion I was offered a position teaching at a bilingual school in Geneva where I have remained to this day.

  • April 2018 - wishing to deepen and extend my understanding of education I enrolled on a Master of Arts in Education (with proficiency in Special Education Needs) with the university of Exeter.

What prompted you to pursue an online programme with University of Exeter? Specifically, why was online appealing to you?

Exeter appealed because of its reputation of excellence and of its being one of the esteemed Russell group universities. However, what really prompted me to choose Exeter were the responses I got to my initial exploratory questions with every enquiry met personably with warmth and with a genuine desire to help.

What has the experience been like? Was it what you thought it would be like and has it met your expectations?

Studying with Exeter has more than met my expectations. Being familiar with the experience of online learning I settled easily into the course with aspects like forum contribution, feedback, collaborative learning etc., all being second nature.

Online learning is far from being a lonely experience with the feeling of belonging and of contributing strongly powerful from the outset. There is a whole community of people doing the same thing as you and from the very start of the course you are plunged into a multitude of interesting means and ways to interact with your peers. For those (myself included) who are perhaps not so comfortable with new technologies, alongside each one introduced is comprehensive supportive instruction and help (in any respect) is never far away if you should need it.

The online experience with Exeter was deeply interactive and personable. Every term I would receive a call from the wonderful Oliver (Student Support Advisor) checking that I was okay; did I have any queries, how was I finding the workload; was it manageable; was I on track for the forthcoming assignment; did I need any help; how was my family?!

I knew that, towards the end of my two-year course, Oliver’s own workload had increased to the extent that he now had several hundred of these calls to make each term, but somehow this never came across in our conversations. Academic support, library support, additional time for an assignment deadline – all were met with the same unwavering personalisation. I always felt ‘looked after’ with Exeter!

If you were giving someone who was considering an online course advice, what would it be?

Interaction is key to sustaining and building all relationships and a key motivator too. Online learning can be a very rewarding and satisfying experience. You get out of relationships what you put in – online learning is no exception to this.  The people at Exeter gave me the feeling that they were without exception, deeply committed to their side of this relationship.

Would you recommend the Exeter programme and if so what aspects of the course do you find appealing?

The collaborative aspect of the course was embedded into every module with each studded with deeply interactive tasks, small group work, individual work and whole group work. I loved that existent theories and ideas were constantly being unpacked and critiqued and new ones shaped (!) from different corners of the world. Ensuing understanding was in my mind all the richer for it.

The amount of reading for an MA is just mind-boggling but when you are reading about a topic area you are both passionate and curious about the motivation just takes care of itself and somehow time is found to fit this into your days, nights, train journeys etc., etc.…

Is there anything you’d like to add or anything you’d like to talk about that we did not touch on?

If you are considering enrolling, then STOP considering and just sign up! Don’t procrastinate! Before you know it two years will have passed, and you will have completed, be feeling a little lost, a lot inspired and wondering what to do next! A PhD perhaps?


Ready to take the first step towards a better career?