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MA in Online and Distance Education

This masters degree course is part of a programme that starts with the Postgraduate Certificate in Online and Distance Education and culminates in the MA. 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.

Study Mode

Online Education, Distance Learning & External study modes available

Career relevance and employability

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 the Masters in Online and Distance Education 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 Masters in Online and Distance Education requires study using a range of tools and learning environments. Consequently graduates improve their personal skills in using these tools and this makes a positive impact on their own practice. They will have explored in-depth the research and practice literature in technology enhanced learning, and experienced the implications of learning technology choices made across a wide range of contexts and organisations, both formal and informal. Participants in the programme will have advanced not only their skills of selection and design of technology, but also their understanding of how technologies engage learners and how they can be evaluated and developed on a continuing basis.

Depending on their choice of module study, the qualification will enable them to demonstrate in addition, expertise in particular areas:

  • The use of portfolios for professional development within university, college, management or other contexts (H808)
  • 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 (H810).
  • Students who wish to specialise in the research and evaluation area 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 (H809).

The vocational relevance of the Masters 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.

There is more information about how OU study can improve your employability in the OU's Employability Statement from our Careers Advisory Service. You can also read or download our publication OU study and your career and look at our subject pages to find out about career opportunities.

Modules

For this 180-credit masters degree you require:

60 credits from the following compulsory module:

Postgraduate compulsory module Credits Next start
Technology-enhanced learning: practices and debates (H800)

Engage with elearning or 'technology-enhanced' learning by exploring the processes of designing, implementing and evaluating, and become a creative and effective elearning professional.

See full description.

60 Feb

And at least 60 credits from the following optional modules:

Postgraduate optional modules Credits Next start
Accessible online learning: supporting disabled students (H810)

Examine the learning experiences of disabled students, the technical aspects of accessibility, and the current debates and discussions about disability and accessibility in educational contexts.

See full description.

30 Sep
Practice-based research in educational technology (H809)

Develop research and evaluation skills in technology-rich environments by learning about new methods of data collection and analysis, and the philosophical assumptions underlying educational enquiry.

See full description.

30 Feb
The elearning professional (H808)

Understand the evolving practices of elearning, online tools, resources and eportfolios in personal and professional development, and then explore the pedagogic theories underlying them.

See full description.

30 Sep FINAL

Or, subject to the rules about excluded combinations, the discontinued modules H801, H802, H803, H804, H805, H806, H807, H850

And either a further 60 credits from the optional modules listed above or 60 credits can be gained from most other postgraduate modules.

If you have already studied with The Open University at postgraduate level and now want to count your module or modules towards the MA in Online and Distance Education, you will need to ask us to link your previous record to the qualification. We will check our regulations at that stage to ensure the module is eligible.

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:

  • theories and debates relevant to the field of online and distance learning
  • a range of technologies/tools and the practices with which they are associated
  • choices that learners make about their own learning, in terms of which technologies they use, why and how
  • choices that practitioners make about ways of applying technologies
  • accessibility issues faced by learners and practitioners in online and distance education
  • the ways that information is generated, organised and accessed on the web
  • the strengths and weaknesses of different approaches to the design and delivery of Web-based learning opportunities.

Cognitive skills

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

  • engage critically with the different types of research that informs practice in online and distance learning
  • critically evaluate the literature of the field
  • engage in online collaboration and debate in order to develop own and other's understanding and awareness of practice contexts
  • initiate, plan and execute a project or extended essay on some aspect of learning with online technologies
  • analyse, evaluate and synthesise information.

Practical and/or professional skills

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

  • evaluate and use relevant information concerned with online and/or distance education/training in the context of your own practice
  • select appropriately from a wide range of electronic resources and make use of these in your own context
  • engage in reflective practice through relating your studies to your own context
  • outline/plan online resources or module environments in relation to a specific content and/or purpose.

Key skills

When you have completed this degree, you will be able to demonstrate the following skills:

Communication

You will be able to:

  • demonstrate an awareness of diverse audiences and purposes
  • produce pieces of written text using appropriate scholarly structures such as referencing systems and abstracts
  • receive and respond to a variety of online communications
  • structure and present arguments in text
  • be sensitive to and respectful of different cultural and language issues in online communication
  • develop the skills to contribute to the construction of a collective knowledge resource.

Information technology

You will be able to:

  • develop online communication skills as contributors and facilitators
  • use computer-based tools/applications to present ideas and information and to network with others.

Learning how to learn

You will be able to:

  • use collaborative online activities to further your own knowledge and understanding
  • reflect on and use feedback from both peers and experts to improve your own learning
  • use a variety of theoretical perspectives to reflect on your own practice in online and distance education
  • participate in an online learning community
  • manage your own online learning using improved time management and organisational skills.

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