Posted by: Gillian | June 12, 2009

Presence and absence in online Masters education

There must be a way forward that works for adult learners and for universities.  I have been comparing research Masters degrees in ICT subjects looking at the balance of residence (on campus presence) and distance study (physical absence from campus) against the institutional rankings.  This has taken place in the same week that I have been trying to make sense of Google Wave papers and had dinner discussions about IPv6 and telepresence.  The same week included discussions at the BILD annual conference and correspondence with John Hayes, the UK’s Shadow Minister for Lifelong Learning, Futher and Higher Education, about the future of flexible learning to suit the needs of professionals seeking high quality higher qualifications.

In brief, it is possible for: you to have a meeting where all of you look as though you are in the same room despite being thousands of miles apart; you can work together in real-time on files; your oven has its own internet address and you can send it an ’email’ to adjust the cooking of dinner depending on how long the meeting goes on.  On the other hand, in order to carry out research at (UK) Masters level or above – even in ICT – you need to spend weeks or months on campus.

In an age where professionals want to apply their work experience to their continued fully-academic education and campuses are full with traditional-mode (younger) students, does this really make sense?

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