MA in Online and Distance Education
This masters degree is part of a programme that includes a postgraduate certificate and postgraduate diploma. These qualifications are presented by The Open University's Institute of Educational Technology and are open to students from countries all over the world. They offer you the unique opportunity to study the theory and practice of online and distance education through modules designed by experts from the Institute who are now using information technology to reinvent open distance learning. Working with them, in collaboration with colleagues from around the world, you will be at the forefront of the latest developments as they happen.
The programme is designed to provide postgraduate-level study for practitioners in higher education and post-compulsory education who are concerned with online, distance, distributed and flexible learning. It aims to meet the needs of professional practitioners worldwide who are using new technologies in their learning and teaching context. The programme provides postgraduate professional development for lecturers, teachers, trainers, learning media specialists, library and support staff who wish to learn more about both teaching and learning at a distance and online distributed learning in both face-to-face and distance education. It is not necessary to be based in an educational institution however, and students from a wide range of work contexts have studied these modules successfully.
Teaching, learning and assessment methods
You are placed in electronic tutor groups where you will engage in collaborative learning with other students with the support of your tutor. You will also contribute to module-wide computer conferencing in plenary areas. You will be supported in both your group and individual study activities by an online tutor. There are no face-to-face activities programmed into this degree but support is provided to you through other media, including email and online conferencing in addition to extensive online materials.
The teaching and learning are both guided and resource-based with a mix of media including Web and computer conferencing, the use of journal articles and other resources accessed via the OU Library.
The tutor-marked assignments are designed to support the programme outcomes as specified. Assessment is wide-ranging from traditional essays to practical web-based tasks and reflective writing. For the final project (examinable component) of each module you will undertake a longer piece of work appropriate both to the specific module being studied.
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Workplaces and work roles increasingly involve media-rich and technology-enhanced forms of learning, professional practice and personal development, often summarised in the term ‘elearning’. Accordingly the experience of achieving this masters degree has proved vocationally relevant across a wide range of occupations and locations, from managers in business organisations, teachers of languages, consultants, trainers and teachers at any level of the education sector.
Each module in the MA in Online and Distance Education requires study using a range of tools and learning environments. Consequently you will improve your personal skills in using these tools and this makes a positive impact on your own practice. You will explore in-depth the research and practice literature in technology enhanced learning, and experience the implications of learning technology choices made across a wide range of contexts and organisations, both formal and informal. You will advance not only your skills of selection and design of technology, but also your understanding of how technologies engage learners and how they can be evaluated and developed on a continuing basis.
Depending on your choice of module study, the qualification will enable you to demonstrate in addition, expertise in particular areas:
- Open educational resources and approaches for learning within university, college, management or other contexts, if you include Openness and innovation in elearning (H817)
- The development of inclusive education in relation to the accessibility of learning contexts online for all students, including the support needs of those with a disability, if you include Accessible online learning: supporting disabled students (H810).
- If you wish to specialise in the research and evaluation area, you can also build a foundation in terms of engagement with the research literature and research methods, which provides an excellent platform for further postgraduate study, if you include Practice-based research in educational technology (H809).
The vocational relevance of the MA in Online and Distance Education goes well beyond the obvious category of teacher and trainer, and previous alumni have included librarians, media professionals, project managers, consultants, entrepreneurs, practice educators in nursing, and web developers.
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