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Educational aims

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.

Learning outcomes

The learning outcomes of the programme are described in four areas.

Knowledge and understanding

When you have completed this degree, you will have knowledge and understanding of:

  • strengths and weaknesses of different learning designs and delivery of digital learning opportunities, including choices that learners and practitioners make, and why
  • theories and debates relevant to the field of technology-enhanced learning, including online and distance elearning
  • the kinds of evidence and their related methods of enquiry/research, that inform practice and the evaluation of practice in technology-enhanced learning and teaching
  • learner experience and the effects associated with technology practices, for example in relation to diversity, accessibility and student retention/progression issues
  • theories and debates relevant to the field of technology-enhanced learning, including online and distance elearning
  • the kinds of evidence and their related methods of enquiry/research, that inform practice and the evaluation of practice in technology-enhanced learning and teaching
  • learner experience and the effects associated with technology practices, for example in relation to diversity, accessibility and student retention/progression issues.

Cognitive skills

When you have completed this degree, you will be able to:

  • analyse evidence about the effects of technologies for learning and teaching and use this in forming judgements about their strengths and weaknesses
  • critically evaluate the literature of the field, locating and engaging with a wide range of formal and informal sources, including those mediated by new forms of technology
  • engage in online collaboration and debate in order to develop your own and other’s understanding and awareness of practice contexts
  • initiate, plan and execute a piece of independent work, using appropriate media, whether text, video, visual, audio or some combination
  • structure and present arguments in text in large part using your own words
  • reflect on and use feedback from both peers and experts to improve your own learning; contribute feedback to peers for the same purpose.

Practical and/or professional skills

When you have completed this degree, you will be able to:

  • outline/plan the deployment of appropriate policies, research, resources or procedures in relation to the requirements of a specific context or purpose that involves technology-enhanced learning
  • reflect critically on your own practice in technology-enhanced learning.

Key skills

When you have completed this degree, you will be able to:

  • produce pieces of written text using appropriate scholarly structures such as referencing systems and abstracts develop online communication skills as contributors and facilitators
  • use computer-based tools/applications to present ideas and information and to network with others
  • use collaborative online activities to further your own knowledge and understanding.

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.