Born to teach - Bron­wyn ful­fils her wishes

Mansfield Courier - - OPINIONS/PEOPLE - By STEVE VI­VIAN

BRON­WYN Cham­ber­lain al­ways wanted to teach.

“I’d al­ways wanted to do teach­ing, but when I fin­ished univer­sity 20 years ago I just wanted to get out and work,” she said.

“And when I moved here to Mans­field there was no em­ploy­ment in my in­dus­try.”

In her twen­ties, Bron­wyn com­pleted a de­gree in arts and a post-grad­u­ate de­gree in pub­lish­ing and edit­ing, but she never be­came a teacher.

But now, in her grad­u­ate year af­ter com­plet­ing her diploma of ed­u­ca­tion on­line, she is a teacher at Mans­field Pri­mary School.

Thanks to on­line learn­ing, she was em­pow­ered to re­take con­trol of her own des­tiny – but it wasn’t easy.

“It was a lot harder this time,” said Bron­wyn.

“Study­ing with kids it was a lot more dif­fi­cult... you have to be very dis­ci­plined with your time.

“You are on your own and you have to de­cide what you are go­ing to get out of it.

“For ma­ture aged stu­dents it is self-driven - you can do it at mid­night if that’s what works for you.”

By study­ing on­line, Bron­wyn was of­fered the flex­i­bil­ity to reach her ca­reer goals with­out putting her life on hold.

And she is just one of lit­er­ally mil­lions of sim­i­lar sto­ries.

On­line learn­ing has given peo­ple who wouldn’t nor­mally be able to at­tend univer­sity - like stay-at-home mums or those al­ready in the work­force - eas­ier ac­cess to higher ed­u­ca­tion.

Now, any stigma that has lin­gered over on­line de­grees has ebbed away.

Some USA stud­ies show that em­ploy­ers are be­gin­ning to view on­line de­grees as be­ing on par with de­grees com­pleted from bricks and mor­tar uni­ver­si­ties.

A sur­vey un­der­taken by Ex­cel­sior Col­lege and Zogby In­ter­na­tional found that 83 per cent of CEOs and busi­ness own­ers be­lieved an on­line de­gree was just as cred­i­ble as a de­gree ob­tained on cam­pus – and this was four years ago.

And there is one big rea­son th­ese on­line de­grees have im­proved at such a rate and be­come nor­malised: tech­nol­ogy.

I n yes­ter­year, a st udent fol­low­ing a dis­tance learn­ing course would have re­ceived course ma­te­ri­als in the post and com­mu­ni­cated with tu­tors via mail.

The meth­ods for col­lab­o­ra­tion be­tween tu­tors and stu­dents - from on­line fo­rums and com­mu­ni­ties, in­stant mes­sag­ing and we­bi­nars – have made dis­tance ed­u­ca­tion even more prac­ti­cal than face-to-face ed­u­ca­tion.

Bron­wyn can also see why it works so well.

“So­cial net­work­ing made it eas­ier... we had closed groups on Face­book, and the tech­nol­ogy has opened the door for on­line study to flour­ish,” she said.

“It was hard, but I think be­ing a ma­ture age stu­dent is help­ful be­cause you al­ready know that you have what it takes to do it.”

The big­gest up­side of on­line de­grees, ar­guably, is that more ma­ture aged work­ers will en­ter and re-en­ter the work­force and con­trib­ute even more to so­ci­ety.

There can be many bar­ri­ers for ma­ture learn­ers go­ing to univer­sity – it can be im­prac­ti­cal be­cause of fam­ily or work, and peo­ple can feel ap­pre­hen­sive about en­ter­ing a world that is dom­i­nated by high school leavers.

On­line de­grees have firmly kicked over this hur­dle.

Now, on­line learn­ing is serv­ing up count­less good news sto­ries, and Bron­wyn is just one such ex­am­ple.

“Be­ing a ma­ture age stu­dent is a real pos­i­tive in the ed­u­ca­tion in­dus­try, we have the best of both worlds,” she said.

“I’m lov­ing ev­ery minute of it.

“The ex­pe­ri­ence of on­line study is one I would rec­om­mend.”

LOV­ING EV­ERY MINUTE: Bron­wyn Cham­ber­lain is now a teacher at Mans­field Pri­mary School af­ter com­plet­ing her diploma of ed­u­ca­tion on­line.

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