London calling for European students

July 14, 1995

A London University teaching degree using computer conferencing on the Internet will be offered in Europe now that it has been proven by the first group of students completing the two-year course.

The Institute of Education's MA in teaching English to speakers of other languages uses the Internet for on-line seminars and group tasks. Students can contribute to group work at any time.

Anita Pincas, the education lecturer who set up the MA using conferencing software from Canada, says the course has widened access to students who would not otherwise come to London and local students who do not want to attend evening classes. She says students feel less isolated and can avoid the periods of residence which other distance-learning courses require.

The MA comprises five modules and a dissertation, taught over six ten-week terms. Students are given basic instruction in conferencing at an initial half-day meeting. They must log on at least a minimum number of times during each stage of the course, and attend one weekend face to face meeting in London at the beginning of each term.

Input from tutors is provided on-line in computer conferences and by video lectures and printed material sent by post.

Martin Murrell, a student on the MA and head of teacher education at South-East Essex College, says the 22 Internet students around the United Kingdom, in Norway and Italy became a close-knit community: "There were some teething problems, but we were able to accomplish more than we would have done any other way."

The institute is now enrolling students for the next course, which starts in January 1996. European students must be able to attend the London meetings, but the institute will also offer a special course in Israel, with lecturers travelling to the country to meet students.

The Institute of Education is also running an MA in education aimed at Hong Kong.

Tutors travel to the colony while students come to London, and in the meantime they keep in touch by computer conferencing.

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