A common misconception about online learning is that the process is essentially impersonal. But on Friday, the 13th of November, the Interactive Design Institute (IDI) proved that this need not be the case. In collaboration with the University of Hertfordshire, we held our 2015 graduation event at Edinburgh Castle – pulling together a multinational cohort of graduating art and design students to receive their well-deserved degrees.
However, despite working towards achieving their Bachelor degrees together, this was the first time many of the graduating students (and their tutors) actually met one another face to face. You can see the contradiction. On the one hand, we appear to have relative strangers working remotely for a qualification through distance learning: a situation that could be impersonal and isolated. On the other, we see graduating students travelling in from all over the world to celebrate their achievement together, and to meet people they have been working closely with for a number of years; albeit online. Higher Education is evolving and so is the way its students interact.
The same can be said for student support. Of course an inappropriate model of course delivery – whatever or wherever the institution – can lead to a perfunctory experience, leaving students and tutors remote, detached and anonymous. However, by providing high levels of academic and pastoral support; by allocating dedicated tutors to each online student; and by encouraging and facilitating the frequent exchange of information, advice and support, the student experience can be inclusive, individual and personal in its online delivery.
And the result? This year’s graduation punctuates the value of, and indeed stands as the very case for, quality online learning. Students choose to study online and do so for a variety of reasons: family circumstances, geographic remoteness, financial restraints and employment commitments, to name a few.
Similarly, the latest graduation produced an extraordinary group of graduates, as stated by eLearning guru Donald Clark in his speech to our graduates and their guests. These people have had to juggle the demands of their work, children, partners, friends, tutors and support staff to get to their goal. Unlike many of the students from campus based institutions progressing directly from school to university, many of these graduates arrived at higher education a little later in the game.
Standing in the grand setting of Edinburgh Castle, every graduate receiving their degree made a leap and actively chose to study online. This decision was to develop personally; to advance in their careers; to dedicate themselves to a subject they are passionate about. This group of people had the desire to lift themselves from their normal lives, change direction, and chose to make the leap that brought them to Edinburgh. An education provider receiving such capable students should be fit for purpose. The highest-to-date turnout of fresh, qualified graduates highlight IDI’s delivery on just that.
Through student support, tailored course delivery and a prerogative of quality online interaction, IDI dispels the myth of impersonal and isolating distance learning. This year’s graduation, and importantly its graduates, stand as proof of the online student experience as a positive, quality driven, rewarding and – ultimately – personal one.
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Read more on our graduation in this article by Find Courses.