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Has anyone completed OU qualifications whilst working full time?

Discussion in 'Professional development' started by Hawkgirl, Jul 27, 2011.

  1. Hi,
    I am interested in studying with the OU for a taught MSc in science I just wondered if anyone had any opinion on whether this additional work was practical whilst working full time as a teacher. I have no kids or other major time commitments and am not planning on taking any on in the next 3 years.
    My motivations is that I really like learning about science and cutting edge research and I feel this additional knowledge could benefit my teaching more than a MSc in education which really doesn't appeal!
    So does anyone have any opinion on OU study whilst teaching and how did you find the OU was it well organised? Were the resources good? Were the deadlines realistic?
    Let me know!

  2. Dodros

    Dodros Star commenter

    I'm now semi-retired, but while I was a full-time teacher I earned an MA in German and an MEd in comparative education, both through part-time study at my local university. So when I moved from MFL into SEN in the mid-1990s I knew what to expect from the OU Advanced Diploma in Special Needs in Education I enrolled on to obtain accreditation pertinent to my career shift. The AdvDipEd lasted two years instead of three because I obtained a waiver of one course for my prior studies. The first year was the "undergraduate" portion, with periodical assignments and a written examination at the end, the second year was the "postgraduate" portion, with longer and in-depth assignments to be completed. I liked the course materials, particularly the books, which were very easy to digest, informative and challenging. I was able to use my teaching experience during the day in my assignments. My tutor was very helpful, conducting most contact by phone although there was one Saturday morning per term when voluntary classes were held. No summer school attendance was required. I was able to study and submit assignments while teaching full-time, the more so because the assignments were often based on work at the chalkface. After years of telling my students not to leave everything to the last minute when meeting deadlines, I found that working from early morning to late evening during the weekend before submission worked best for me! I would heartily recommend the OU for the content and method of the course I followed and everything seemed well organised to me. I wouldn't be keen to go back to twilight classes studying alongside other knackered teachers, but that's because I've studied part-time pretty well all my life. Others might find the experience a little lonely and in that case I would recommend keeping in contact by email with fellow OU students following the same course for mutual support.
  3. becktonboy

    becktonboy New commenter

    In the late 70's and early 80's 70% of all OU students were working teachers, mostly full-time I think.
  4. I did my MA with the OU, finishing in 2007. I was working full time and have three children - the oldest of whom was 13 when I finished. Having said that, it was focused on education and so I could use much of what I did on a day to day basis in assignments.
    I know I did not spend as long as I should have on the assignments, but did pass them all first time. I felt quite relaxed about this, and didn't stress about submitting five minutes before the deadline. - This got much better when I could do it online - had been known to drive to tutors house and post at last minute!! I don't have much of a life outside teaching anyway, and found the course both interesting and useful. As mentioned before the materials are great, and there is no pressure to attend tutorials (although it may be different for your course) - I did, but they were roughly one per month and on a saturday. The only stress for me was an examined unit - it had been roughly 18 years since I had last taken an exam, and also I did think I cut it fine with the amount of revision - having to rely on mindmaps to summarise large chunks of information, - having said that I got a good mark, so it was worth it.
    Given your circumstances, I would recommend it.
    All the best,
  5. Thanks for all your help, you have given me a lot to think about. I really want to go for it, I have my eye on the MSc in Medical Physics and think it would be great for me as I teach physics and enjoy the subject but have few formal qualifications in the subject ( I have A-level and completed a six month physics enhancement course). It also links to biology which is the field I worked in before teaching and was my degree subject.

    My only reservations are the cost and time commitment, it is 1310 pounds per sixty credit module and the masters is 180 credits, so a total of four grand! OU do allow paying in installments, but still it would be about an extra 150 a month for the next three years when I should really be saving for a house deposit. Secondly, they recommend 16 hours work per week, so about 2 hours per day, I don't know if I could do that as sometimes I get home from work and am exhausted! I also keep thinking would I want that extra work around report writing time, which is always a nightmare!!

    I am very confused, on one hand I really want to study and learn, on the other, I don't want to set myself up for a fall by taking on too much then be left with a huge bill!
  6. leadlearner

    leadlearner New commenter

    I studied for a masters with them, working full time and it was manageable. However I found the course notes very out of date and some of them were based on a school I know well - and nobody including the Head had heard of the project cited in the notes which was not surprising given it was done in the 1980's. I was completely disappointed with the standard of material and the reading list had lots of books on it by one main person namely the course lead! I did not think this was balanced and when I added my own up to date reading on research projects I got no extra marks and in one case was penalised for not referencing the 1980's work.....
    On the plus side ,our course tutor was brilliant and I learnt loads, despite rather than because of the course. Interestingly she also tutored for a local university and admitted that the course there would have been a lot more interesting for us and had better material. I had not considered applying. So my advice is go for it, but if you live near a city investigate what courses they offer as I think in my cases they would have been of a much[​IMG] better standard. In some areas too I was unaware that the OU did not have such a good academic reputation as other local universities (I anticipate a back lash on this posters) but if you are doing it to further your career I would explore all options so that it works best for you,
    All best
  7. Re the cost: I have completed one module for the OU MEd and received a grant from the TDA - I think it was about £340. This was available to anyone with QTS. This was for the MEd though, so doubtful that this would be available for different Masters. There are numerous modules available for the MEd however (only one compulsary module out of 3) so you may find something of interest to you.
    I also completed my first degree with the OU and have always found the organisation and tutors to be great.
    Good luck with whatever you decide.
  8. Thanks for all the suggestions, I am going to wait until September and see how my time and money is being spent. Hopefully, I will be able to start my MSc in Jan, I really want to give it a go!
  9. Hi Hawkgirl,
    I'm currently doing the first unit of the taught MA in music - it sounds like a similar set-up, financially and time-wise, to the course you are considering. Regarding payment, it's far cheaper than doing an MA through most other universities! I couldn't get financial support from school, but if you think of it as £100ish a month, it's not too bad. I haven't had to buy many books, as there's lots of information available online through the OU library service. Also, you only have to pay for one unit at a time - so if you hate it, you can just do the first unit, get a PGCert, and only pay £1260,
    My course also recommend 16 hours a week, but I don't do anywhere near that much. You are meant to do lots of short activities alongside the reading, but I generally skip those and just concentrate on the assignments! Others in my tutorial forum are putting more time in, but they are generally retired or working more flexible hours. I probably do 8 hours a week on average, but often much less!
    Good luck if you decide to go for it.
  10. lillipad

    lillipad New commenter

    Hi, finding this thread useful as I am also considering a masters.

    To those people who have completed one in Education- what are the assignments like? What sort of things do they usually entail and what volume of information are you expected to include? I read for the first year, they want something like 7 assignments and I was thinking these can't be huge, but then it is a masters so perhaps they are big? Could anyone give an example of say, titles of assignments they did? It would just help so much to know the kind of things you'd be asked to do!

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