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Masters in Online and Distance Education

About This Masters Degree

Course Description

This Master’s degree is part of a programme that includes a postgraduate certificate and postgraduate diploma in Online and Distance Education. These qualifications are presented by The Open University's Institute of Educational Technology and are open to students from nearly all countries of 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 using information technology to reinvent open and digital learning. Working with them, in collaboration with colleagues from around the world, you will be at the forefront of the latest developments.

Career relevance

Workplaces and work roles increasingly involve media-rich and technology-enhanced forms of learning, professional practice and personal development, often summarised in the terms elearning and digital education and training. Students who have achieved this Masters degree, or the certificate or diploma, have benefited vocationally 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 students to use a range of tools and learning environments. You will improve your personal skills in using these tools, thus making 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 increasing use of social media and open content by educators and students to share knowledge and practice through online dissemination, if you include The networked practitioner (H818).

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.

Technology-enhance learning: practices and debates (H800) -

This module is designed for current or future professionals in elearning or technology-enhanced learning. It is highly relevant if you already work in online learning in a university or college, in training, in heritage, health or non-formal learning – or if you’re considering moving into one of these areas.

The module provides hands-on experience of a range of elearning technologies, and enables you to explore the processes of designing, implementing and critiquing technology-enhanced learning. By the end of your studies, you’ll have developed your ability to act as a creative and effective professional within the broad field of digital learning, teaching and training.

Openness and innovation in elearning (H817) -

Innovations in elearning and digital education/training are moving at a fast pace, especially with the use of new social software tools that encourage peer-supported elearning and assessment. With an emphasis on exploring innovation, you will discover the latest online communication developments, and also experience developments in open education. You will develop specific elearning and etutoring skills (including online group moderation and elearning activity design), conduct small-scale investigations, and use case studies, with the overall aim of incorporating or rethinking elearning activity within your own professional context. This module will introduce you to current debates around the concept of openness.

Accessible online learning: supporting disabled students (H810)-

How can we improve access to learning for disabled students? There are increasing expectations in many countries that disabled students should be able to participate fully in post-16 education. This means that people responsible for digital and elearning provision in academic and support roles need to understand how courses are designed and delivered online. The module looks at the experiences of disabled students, the technical aspects of accessibility, and current debates and discussions about disability and accessibility in educational contexts. This module benefited from JISC TechDis expertise and materials in its production.

Practice-based research in educational technology (H809) -

Digital technologies are dramatically changing educational research processes, at a time of high demand for ‘evidence-based’ policy and practice. This module will help you to find, interpret and evaluate research in technology-rich environments. You will engage in the critical study of original empirical research to learn about cutting-edge methods of data collection and analysis. Philosophical assumptions underlying educational enquiry are examined; and associated ethical and political concerns are explored in detail. There is an opportunity to apply what’s been learned using a topic of your choice, by critically evaluating current research or by developing a research proposal.

The networked practitioner (H818) -

Opportunities for sharing knowledge and practice are being transformed through online dissemination, and informed through engagement with others in peer reflection. Students and educators often use social media and open content as peripheral activities. This module shifts this practice from what Lawrence Lessig described as ‘read-only’ engagement, into active and purposeful networked ‘read-write’ activity. Working on a project, you will publish and share practice within an online Conference and our ‘OpenStudio’ environment, producing an artefact that explores and addresses a key theme in online and distance education. You will also critically assess and actively visualise your own engagement with digital networks and open practice.

Entry Requirements

Students usually need a first degree from a UK or overseas university. You need easy access to the Web, but you don’t need to be experienced in forums. Nor do you need to be working in technology-enhanced learning, but you should be aiming to develop such expertise.

All teaching is in English, and your proficiency needs to be adequate for postgraduate study and for contributing online by text and voice. If English is not your first language, we strongly recommend you ensure you can score at least seven in the International English Language Testing System. Study materials are delivered online.

Visit the Masters in Online and Distance Education page on the Open University website for more details!

Entry Requirements

See Course Desciption

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