The Institute of Local Government Studies (INLOGOV) is the leading centre for academic research and teaching on local governance and strategic public manangement in the UK. Delivering a number of traditional ‘face-to-face’ postgraduate degrees in government policy and practice, INLOGOV’s course authors also offer a 100% Online Masters of Public Administration – giving busy public sector professionals the opportunity to progress their careers at national and international levels.
The creation and provision of this new 100% online course has presented its own challenges and opportunities, as we explore here with one of the module tutors, Dr Abena Dadze-Arthur:
“[W]e realised the need to research and write much of the programme. Our existing PowerPoints, although helpful in visually highlighting or synthesizing complex arguments, were unsuited and reductionist for this [online] mode of teaching. Hence, we spent weeks producing fully scripted learning materials of a high quality and publishable standard, which also featured animated videos and interactive diagrams, timelines and theoretical models that could be expanded or collapsed at the click of a mouse.”
A large proportion of current students studying this course are already working within the public sector. Therefore, they can use their studies to network with others and swap workplace experiences. This adds valuable insight for peers across the globe as 62% of current distance learning students are also overseas.
She continues, “The students are able to critically engage in activities, rather than simply absorb them.”
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Interactive sessions form part of a guided journey through the curriculum including participation in regular discussion forums and real-life simulation case studies:
“We have incentivised students carefully to read each other’s contributions and offer thought-provoking feedback, constructive advice and mutual support – all of which leads to the development of a strong learning-community,” says Dr Dadze-Arthur.
By including traditional and multi-media resources from around the world (including documentary films from key influencers), module tutors can ensure that all the course material is internationally applicable to all participants:
“We produced a series of short, BBC-documentary-style videos featuring practitioners and researchers from across the globe who discussed their particular experiences of public management and governance in their respective home countries,” Dr Dadze-Arthur continues.
When the first students on this course are nearing graduation (July 2018), we will be asking them to give feedback on their learning experience. Through this feedback (and our faculty involvement in the industry), course organisers can ensure that course material is kept up to date so that online learning is as effective as possible in the way it is both delivered and received. Dr Dadze-Arthur (in collaboration with other online tutors across Europe), is also developing an assessment tool to measure and compare the impact of online masters courses on students’ personal performance in public service organization.
Furthermore, as technological advancements in communication strengthen, distance learning techniques will only continue to improve over time.
Are you looking to accelerate your career in the public sector? If you’d like more about this course and details on how to apply, please fill out our request information form or call our admissions team today.
*An original version of this article can be found here.