Can you talk a little bit about yourself and your background?
I have been a primary school teacher for nineteen years and have experience of teaching in London, Manchester, and Cumbria. Having taught across the primary spectrum and led core subjects including Mathematics and English, I felt I needed to broaden my knowledge before becoming a school leader.
What prompted you to pursue an online programme with the University of Exeter?
Anyone working in education knows that routines are not static, and every day is different. Having considered various routes to studying an MA, the online programme was appealing as it allowed me to work on the course around my job and my young family.
Specifically, why was online appealing to you?
I had not initially considered completing the MA online however by doing so, I was not only able to complete the degree in my own time around my work and family, but I was also not challenged by travel or restricted by the location, instead I could access a course that I was interested in.
What has the experience been like?
The last two years have been an emotional rollercoaster of learning, meeting deadlines, being awakened to education development and engaging with supportive tutors and other inspirational educators. The more time you spend working on this course, the more you gain from it. You do need to be self-motivated and prepared to give the course your time and commitment however, it is incredibly rewarding and there have been so many times when I wished I did not have other commitments and could spend my time solely on the course as the learning is endless.
Was it what you thought it would be and has it met your expectations?
Being the first time that I had access learning in this way, I was unsure of what to expect. However, the design of the course and the way the modules build upon each other is really well planned. Each module allows you to develop your knowledge of up-to-date educational policy that is current, the modules also enable you to zone in to what is of interest and applicable to your individual practice. Also, by engaging with students globally, enables you to build a deeper understanding of education around the world.
The tutors are incredibly supportive and enable you to challenge yourself and, despite being a virtual platform, the tutors are very good at gaging each individual student and question you in a positive manner that allows you to consider your own thought processes. The modules comprise of a variety approaches that not only give you the opportunity to use new technology but also ensure you maintain engaged in the different approaches.
If you were giving someone who was considering an online course advice, what would it be?
Go for it! This course has re-wired my classroom practice and my overall cognition about learning. The ELE platform is really easy to navigate and the team leading the course are incredibly supportive and full of wisdom and passion in their role. There is always someone you can contact to help if you are unsure about something and joining the student WhatsApp group has created a whole new network of professionals that I feel I can turn to for advice moving forward. You do need to be committed and self-motivated to get the most from this course, but the knowledge and confidence you gain is significant.
I would advise anyone starting the course to spend time familiarising yourself with the resources available on the online platform ELE, as these are vast and are all there to support your learning. Having been a long time since I was at university, referencing assignments had changed along with uploading assignments and referring to the online support was vital. Turning to my student liaison officer at this point was also crucial and it is worth remembering that just because you are working online, you still need support and if you are unsure of something, ask for help.
Would you recommend the Exeter programme and if so, what aspects of the course do you find appealing?
The programme has been so well planned, and each module takes you on a journey that allows you to build on the knowledge and experience you have gained and add it to the next module to develop your understanding further. The modules are almost like a jigsaw puzzle that slot together to create an overall picture and this enables you to consider which areas of education really interest you – for me, gaining greater understanding on disadvantages in education and how we can reduce gaps was significant.
Is there anything else that you would like to add?
When you join the course, you are provided with a student liaison officer – for me this was Oliver. Student liaison officers contact you regularly to check-in and ensure you succeed at the course – no student is left behind. Oliver took time to check I was ok and was there to call upon if I encountered any problems. He made me (and the other students in my cohort) feel at ease and was available to contact if I ever had a problem. He was always professional and never made me feel like I was asking a ridiculous question.
I can honestly say I have loved every minute of completing this course. It does take time and dedication, but it also becomes such an important part of your life that, when the final dissertation is handed in, there is an element of sadness that it is over.