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Professor Staite: “the spirit of teaching online is no different from teaching face to face.”

Director for Public Sector Reform and a key associate of the Institute of Local Government Studies (INLOGOV), Professor Catherine Staite has enjoyed a successful career working both within the public sector and as a member of our faculty. She joined the University of Birmingham in 2010 from the Office for Public Management and previously worked with the Audit Commission and North Humberside MIND.

As Director for INLOGOV’s Online Masters of Public Administration, Professor Staite has been a key driver in the launch and development of this digital programme. Previously, she has been listed in the UK’s top 100 most influential people working in local government¹, and was officially appointed as a Professor in April 2017:

“Developing the Online Masters of Public Administration has been the most consistently exciting project I've worked on - it has enabled me to learn so many new things. I’m not only working with interesting people, I’m also coming into contact with students I would not have been able to teach without this format,” explains Professor Staite.

She adds; “[I]n some ways, the spirit of teaching online is no different from teaching face to face. The main difference is that, in order to do it well, I had to go back and scruitinize the way my teaching materials had been used within a classroom setting.”

This includes spending weeks producing fully scripted learning materials to feature alongside animated videos, interactive diagrams, timelines and theoretical models.

Learning from experience

Professor Staite currently teaches two modules as part of the Online Masters of Public Administration – ‘Leadership in public services’ and ’Programme management’:

“I would like students [once they graduate] to have developed a rounded view of leadership and to appreciate that it isn’t all about traits. Leadership is something we can practice at work and elsewhere in our communities. As part of the module, ‘Leadership in public services’, I teach students to understand what their own leadership style is so that they can make an authentic contribution and recognise good leadership skills in others,” says Professor Staite.

She continues; “[F]or ‘Programme Management’, it is about understanding theoretical concepts which enable students to understand what is really important. There’s a lot of mystique around Programme Management: it is a tool which students learn and use. Students [undertaking this course] genuinely aim to make a difference to their organisations and communities. Therefore, it is important that they learn about delivering complex projects, through simulations and understand the interventions that they can apply outside of their studies.”

Recommended read: ‘Studying online has allowed me to achieve my ambitions…’

What you bring to the course

Students undertaking this degree are generally either looking to lead in public services (and wish to progress their career) or seek to transition into the public sector. Professor Staite explains more:

“A lot of the time students don’t realise how much they have to bring. I see my students grow and develop throughout their studies. They realise they have the ability to turn theory into practice and influence their organisations. Students then add value by sharing new ideas with their fellow students on how to tackle challenges with clear evidence to support their rationale.”

This creative energy is generated from networking with students from a wide range of backgrounds and from around the world, which comes from studying online. Professor Staite has worked to ensure that interactivity brings students together to facilitate knowledge sharing. She explains further:

“Sometimes students like to know they are not alone – even before they apply. There are students who are meeting all sorts of challenges (financial, organisational, cultural, political) and whether they are in Afghanistan or Africa, the Online Masters of Public Administration helps them to find others who share the same values and concerns. By networking with each other, they are also able to build their knowledge and confidence in this area outside of their studies,” Professor Staite concludes.

The progression of online learning

Teaching 100% online means that Professor Staite can update course content and accommodate new technology in real-time:

“Using all the benefits of technology - all the clever tricks - students become engrossed in the curriculum. We use live webinars, podcasts and students talking to each other through discussion boards and we can add new material when something interesting happens in the field,” she explains.

"We have built a community of students who have really interesting career experiences to share. You could never get them all together on campus, but we can capture those experiences and create a library. The possibilities are endless, and I am learning as I go along. It’s been very enriching and rewarding.”

Applications for our 100% Online Masters of Public Administration are open. If you are looking to make a difference to public services and join a fast-growing, like-minded community, please fill out our request for information form or contact the admissions team today.

1. UNKNOWN (2017) Professor Catherine Staite. University of Birmingham [online] Available at: <http://www.birmingham.ac.uk/schools/government-society/departments/local-government-studies/staff/profiles/staite-catherine.aspx> [Accessed 08/05/2017]

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