Saturday, September 28, 2013

Selecting a Postgraduate Program of Study

On Thursday I attended the Perth MBA & Postgrad Studies Expo. This had many of the same exhibitors as the Canberra Expo, I attended two weeks ago. However, there was a greater presence from overseas and on-line educational institutions. This may reflect the lack of local choice in higher education providers in Perth and also the more international orientation of West Australians (where Singapore is closer than Sydney).

My aim was to look for a Masters coursework program to further my interest in the design and delivery of distance on-line education in higher education. The program would preferably be delivered on-line, but it would be good to have a campus near Canberra, which I could perhaps visit.

None of the West Australian, or international  institutions had anything suitable for me. However, curiously University of Southern Queensland (USQ) may. As I had already completed two courses from their program I looked at the USQ Master of Education. However, I was told I had to complete a Bachelor of Education first, as the program seems to be aimed at school, not university teachers.

I dropped into the USQ booth at the expo anyway and was told the useful bit of information that USQ has a second Masters program in the education field: the Master of Learning and Development (MLD)This does not require a first degree in education for entry. I am not sure how I missed this, but may be that one option includes an Early childhood specialization option, which is the opposite end of the education scale from higher education.

The MLD is by coursework, but has the option of a "Research Pathway", with two or three courses replaced with a small research project. For this I have a ready made research topic comparing the delivery of my "ICT Sustainability" course to students at ANU, ACS and Athabasca University and the differences between this on-line course and the classroom courses the same students undertake at ANU (a quick calculation showed an 80% correlation between the students on-line and classroom course marks, suggesting the delivery mode does not make much of a difference). Another area to explore is Software for Synchronised Asynchronous Constructivist e-Learning. For this I would work with ANU IT students who would write extensions to Moodle to make it suitable for real-time learning delivery and I would see how that works with my students.

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