Journey of a Distance Learner: Summer Term Study Tips


MA Education blogger Nida As the word count counter on the bottom left of the laptop screen hit 5000+, I found myself exhaling in relief. Countless hours, days, weeks spent in deciding on a topic, developing a proposal, planning research, and many bouts of stress later, I was finally ready to hand in the final draft of the end of the module assignment.

As a distance learning student of the MA in Education program, I am in my second term and upon successful completion I would officially be halfway through the program not counting the dissertation. As I think back to my first blog, outlining the start of my journey as a distance learner, I couldn’t help but wonder at how much I had learned, not just academically, in just a few short months.

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MA Education: Journey of a distance learner


MA Education blogger NidaBeing a bit of an old soul, the idea of transformative learning never appealed to me, and I in no way or form fit the profile of an autonomous learner. Instead, I always preferred to follow the directive of the typical white haired, corduroy blazer sporting, battered leather briefcase toting professorial figure. Under such guidance I was able to work feverishly towards adding an “outstanding” to my educational credentials. Hopefully satisfying my parents that I was indeed working towards someday generating a hefty return on the tuition fee investment they grudgingly funded.

However, when it came to doing a master’s, the exorbitant costs of studying and living abroad left me with no option but to pursue the distance learning route to achieve my educational goals. I spent several weeks researching and emailing dozens of universities – half of which I did not care to pursue on one pretext or the other, and the other half that deemed me academically or otherwise unworthy to enter their virtual realm. Finally,  a combination of fate, and getting my foot in the door right before the entry deadline, landed me at the helm of the University of London. Through the distance learning MA  in Education programme, I was able to finally become a student of the UoLIP, UCL AND IOE (now UCL Institute of Education), plus I got the coveted @ucl email address as a bonus.😇

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Painting a Portrait of Education


Here, the subject is obviously neither handsome nor portraying a healthy picture by smoking a cigarette. However, we can see that the artist has articulately applied all the different techniques to depict the subject close to life with even a sparkle in the old man’s eyes! How would you rate this artist? If I could paint education the way this artist sketch this old man, I’m certain that I wouldn’t have any problems getting a good grade!

Here, the subject is obviously neither handsome nor portraying a healthy picture by smoking a cigarette. However, we can see that the artist has articulately applied all the different techniques to depict the subject close to life with even a sparkle in the old man’s eyes! How would you rate this artist? If I could paint education the way this artist sketch this old man, I’m certain that I wouldn’t have any problems getting a good grade!

Over the course of 6 weeks, I’ve been taught how to paint a portrait of education and been tasked with reflective assignments. The mind map with its spaghetti wires is akin to the hair. The abstract with its emotions and clarity is akin to the eyes and eyebrows. The two statements are akin to the mouth. Citations are akin to the ears as we harness the congruity of our thoughts and thought leaders in the field of education. But… what about the nose? Surely, Mona Lisa wouldn’t look pretty without her nose right? Not forgetting the largest organ of the human body … the skin! Oh, where can I find these two organs?

Turns out that these two organs are found in an essay. The skin is our flow of thought; the language and presentation in the essay. The nose is the central theme and/or argument that connect all the other features of the face together. In fact, there was a lecture on academic writing that teaches students how to paint the skin and nose. My confidence is regained!

Students were given the liberty to do their mock exams whenever they’re ready but must submit it by a stipulated deadline. Before opening the mock exam questions, I was wondering if it will turn out the way I anticipated. When I saw the questions, I was pretty happy as there were two portraits (i.e. questions) that I know I should have no problems painting (i.e. answering). However, painting two pretty portraits in 3 hours is a challenge! Quickly, I prepared my palette of facts, littered with different colours of views and citations; at times mixing different colours to get a whiter or darker shade. Continue reading

I can see clear skies through the rain


Clouds CurtainHaving overcome the first lecture, my excitement and anticipation grows stronger with every lecture. That “old familiar feeling” of wanting to learn more comes back to me again – the feeling of a dry sponge; ever-ready to absorb the juices of knowledge from prominent thought leaders in education. I can’t help but feel so privileged!

As a businessperson, I’ve paid top dollars just to listen to industry leaders speak for barely an hour. As an employee of a fortune-500 company, I used to fight for a place at the company’s annual conference where top-notch industry speakers are invited to speak. Now, I not only have one, but several gurus; each lecturing for a few hours! The best part is: I can ask these gurus questions during the lecture! Seeing their body language when digesting our questions, brains ticking, piecing information, and finally delivering their answers not only depicts the expanse of their knowledge on the subject matter but also their wealth of experience – all within the space of a few seconds. Continue reading

Post #1: In which we meet this blog’s narrator and catch up on events in the MA Education


I think I might be a man.

Turns out that I’m completely without that well-known female quality of being able to successfully multi-task, so that instead of juggling writing this blog, catching up on a dubiously thick stack of reading and preparing for the new school year I have instead been in a state of stall for the last week when I’ve been able to do nothing more academic than watch re-runs of Frasier.

I’ve had to impose discipline on myself so I’ve come into work and I’m writing to you sitting at my desk in my classroom. Should you like to picture the scene you might like to know that it’s freezing cold in here, a testament to the fierce air-con that’s keeping the oppressive heat outside at bay. I live in Romania – which is a land of all sorts of extremes, not least in its literal interpretation of a cold winter and a hot summer. The students aren’t back yet – they won’t be back for at least another week – and the school seems very quiet and altogether too ‘grown-up’ without them.

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A Freshman’s First Experience With The MA Education Distance Learning


Worried Bernard

Worried Bernard!

Although learning is a continuous process over our entire lifespan, it’s been some time since I’ve had formal training.  Being a business consultant and more recently, a business management teacher in an IB World School, I’m pretty nervous being a student.  I mean, the tables are turned on me now!  Moreover, it’s distance learning.  Doubts on its effectiveness clouded my mind.  So, why did I sign up in the first place?  From a business perspective, it’s branding and the value of the product won me over.  The University of London and the Institute of Education reputations in the global education industry is second to none as far as I’m concerned.  Decision made – I must endure all hardships and whatever the course throws at me. Continue reading

Self-Introduction – Bernard Seah


Bernard Seah - Photo (2 inch) 20110811Hi everyone,

I’m a new student at the University of London studying the MA Education at the Institute of Education. Currently, I’m a Business Management teacher at an IB World School in Beijing, China since 2011.

Prior to my teaching career, I was in the ICT industry. Dealing with parents and students is very different from dealing with clients. Presenting to and teaching students is very different from presenting to clients. So, that’s one of the reasons why I signed up for the MA Education course. Continue reading