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MA Professional Education Practice (online)

Enhance your teaching expertise. Understand how you can teach more effectively to promote student learning. For lecturers, tutors, trainers and anyone involved with, or interested in, learning and teaching.

Professional educator does distance learning on her laptop

Innovative and flexible distance-learning available from anywhere in the world

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Entry requirements

A degree or an equivalent professional or non-standard award and/or appropriate and relevant experience

For international students IELTS 6.0 or equivalent is required

Entry to the programme is flexible with three entry points each year - typically January, April and September

UCAS code Apply to Marjon

UCAS institution code P63

Duration 24 months flexible part-time distance learning

Any questions about postgraduate study at Marjon?

Contact Rachel Bailey-Lewis, our Student Recruitment Officer (Postgraduate).

Course Summary

This innovative distance-learning programme is the perfect qualification for lecturers, tutors, trainers, demonstrators and anyone involved with learning and teaching in a college, academy, commercial training or university environment. The programme has been designed by an award-winning team; you will study a variety of highly-relevant subject areas that will enhance your professional practice, improve your career opportunities, and deliver great value to both you and your workplace. There is no need to come to Plymouth to study this course, with all your learning resources delivered through Plymouth Marjon University’s flexible learning app, along with full tutor support from the Marjon academic team.

This course enables you to:

  • Understand how you can teach more effectively to promote student learning
  • Develop new skills in designing and delivering online learning.
  • Complete an in-depth research project relevant to your workplace or personal interests.

The programme enables all students to enrol and participate fully from anywhere in the world using your phone, tablet or computer. You’ll be able to share your learning experiences with other Marjon students and your tutor through online discussion forums and activities. You'll also have access to high quality learning resources, including access to the University’s extensive digital library.

Every student has a personal tutor, who is on hand to help with any questions or concerns that you may have. Your tutor will guide you through your studies, and will provide you with detailed feedback as you progress through the course. There will be collaborative learning opportunities with your tutor and fellow students throughout the course.

The course is designed to fit around your job and your other commitments. Each module takes three months to complete and you can proceed at your own pace, working towards the module assessment date. You should allow between 12-15 hours each week to devote to study during term times, but this could be at weekends or during the evenings.

MA Professional Education Practice. Distance Learning at Marjon.

Dr. Lynne Wyness: Our new distance learning master's program in professional education practice might be the next step in your professional development that you're looking for. Perhaps you're a new teacher, trainer, or an educator working in a university or college, maybe in an academy or a professional training context. Maybe you want to understand the basic principles behind good teaching, so you can improve your practice. Perhaps you're interested in how educational research can help you, help your students get better results. Whatever your motivation if you want to enhance your impact as a teacher and to support your organization to deliver the very best learning experiences for students, then this program might be for you.

At Marjon we understand that learning online requires us to take a different approach to our teaching. We want you to become independent learners so we've carefully structured this program in two ways. Firstly, we'll anchor your learning in the underpinning principles and theories of education before secondly, exploring ways in which you can design and deliver your teaching to promote high quality educational experiences for your learners.

You'll be learning with students from around the world, sharing your ideas, solving problems with them on the virtual learning environment. We'll give you opportunities to develop key skills, reflective practice, critical thinking, evidence informed teaching strategies and coaching and mentoring techniques that will take your teaching to the next level. Towards the end of the masters you'll conduct a research project that addresses a professional teaching dilemma that you have, or problem that your organization is facing. You'll evaluate and critically analyze the evidence and write recommendations for how this might resolve the issue. So this inquiry project can have real value, not only improving your teaching practice, but also affecting change in your organisation.

You'll learn entirely online from high quality videos and reading materials, accessed via our virtual learning environments. And you can expect personalized support from expert tutors. There won't be any exams instead, we'll assess you on your ability to take your learning from the course, reflect on it and apply it to your professional teaching practice. Entry requirements are flexible, but if you haven't studied for a while, then we've got a short access course that can help you develop those academic skills that you'll need to get the most out of your masters.

We're passionate about education at Marjon and we'd love to share that with you. If you have any questions at all, please get in touch.

Why this course at Marjon?

A flexible distance-learning schedule that supports the needs of busy professionals

All learning materials are provided and are accessible on your mobile device

Learn at your own pace

Outstanding tutor support from your personal tutor and expert lecturers in professional education

A clear structure of learning through core modules with opportunities to apply your learning to your own professional practice

We've been training teachers since 1838 so we understand education. Become a better educator with us

Modules for this course

Course Snapshot

We'll first introduce you to the core principles of learning and teaching, and examine a range of teaching methods and techniques, including assessment, marking and feedback. You will progress to looking at the principles and good practice of designing and delivering effective educational experiences online and will complete your own online learning design project. The second stage examines educational cultures and strategies in various global contexts and how to create and effective and inclusive learning culture in the classroom. It also helps you to develop practical skills associated with coaching and mentoring. Finally you'll work on an applied research project examining an educational issue of interest to you or based in your workplace.
Dr Richard Thain - Director of Learning Solutions and Innovation

1st Year

Insights into learning and teaching in higher education
Explore the foundations of education, learning, and teaching, apply theories of learning to your own practice, and begin to build your professional teacher’s toolkit.
Learning and teaching online
Develop theoretical and practical skills in learning and teaching online - and gain valuable insights into the online learning revolution. Reflect on which models of online learning are best suited to your own education context and explore key principles and good practice in designing effective online learning experiences.
Culture, community and curriculum
Investigate the nature of education in a broader context. From your local community to global trends in education, gain insights into the diverse cultural aspects that influence your practice. Add an appreciation of future-facing curricular frameworks and pedagogies to your teaching toolkit, and help to equip your students for living and working in a complex and uncertain future.
Coaching and mentoring in educational contexts
Learn and practice theories and techniques of coaching and mentoring, and apply them to your professional practice to promote the learning and personal development of your students and colleagues.
Professional practice enquiry
Conduct an in-depth, applied, and independent project - identify an emerging problem or research question within your professional practice or workplace, and gather, critique, and evaluate relevant evidence. Develop recommendations and guidelines to promote change in your future practice and organisation.
Access to professional education practice
This is an optional 8 week introductory module which you may wish to start with. This does not give you a qualification but is suitable for those who may have been out of formal education for some time.

Current students say...

Beth Smith

“The course helps me to think about planning my teaching practice. Not only this, but it allows me to challenge my thinking, reflect and apply new concepts to my practice. Lynne has been fantastic at giving timely, constructive and meaningful feedback. The support network doesn’t just allow you to pass the module, it provides an opportunity to excel. I'm using theories from the course in my practice and this has developed my confidence that my learners are having a positive learning experience."

Pascal Zgambo

“I appreciate the freedom to conduct study at my own pace around my very demanding job with the Royal Air Force. Tutor support is readily available and I can schedule online tutorials at a time that is convenient to me. I’m developing in terms of being able to reflect on my current professional practices, influencing how I teach my students as well as my own continuous professional development.”

This course is perfect if you’re curious about

How can I enhance my subject and practice expertise in teaching in a variety of educational contexts?

How can I best teach students with a wide variety of cultural backgrounds and expectations?

How can I develop my knowledge and practice, and enhance my professional skills?

Which theories of teaching and learning best facilitate my students’ learning?

How do I develop new skills and pedagogical approaches in different educational contexts?

How can I innovate and facilitate change in my professional education setting?

What might you become?

In general terms, a Masters’ degree can enable career progression in a highly competitive market place and promote career mobility. Holders of a Masters’ degree can expect to demonstrate flexible and transferable skills such as high levels of initiative, leadership of learning, and mastery of a subject area. Marjon graduates go on to progress their careers as teachers, lecturers, and educational leaders in a variety of educational settings, including colleges, universities, technical academies, training centres, and in vocational education.

How you’ll be taught and assessed?

How will you be taught?

The programme is delivered entirely online. The taught component of this programme is carefully structured to facilitate your ability to learn flexibly and independently, and you will learn through a structured series of online lectures, webinars, tutorials, core and recommended reading, websites, and videos. Each student is assigned a tutor who will be available throughout the course to guide you through the teaching and learning materials and provide advice and feedback on assessments.

How will you be assessed?

You will be assessed in several ways including essays, reports, presentations, reflective writing, and engagement with peers. There are no written exams on this programme. There is a fixed assessment date at the end of each module.

Lynne Wyness

Dr Lynne Wyness

Course leader

View full profile

Lynne has 25 years of teaching experience in secondary, further and higher education and, in recent years, has worked with professional university-based teachers to develop their educational practice. She has managed a pedagogic research programme and helped colleagues from diverse disciplinary backgrounds to develop their own research projects to promote change within their educational contexts.

Fees and funding

Fees UK students: £8,250

Fees for International students: £8,250

This fee covers your tuition and access to course-specific equipment and facilities, as well associated services including access to the library, study skills support, IT support, student support and wellbeing services and membership of the Student Union. There may be additional costs by course.

Funding available for this course

Our Student Funding Advisors offer confidential and impartial advice about your funding options.

Learn more

Frequently asked questions

Q1   Can I spread the cost of the degree fees over two years?

Yes. Marjon offers the following flexible payment plans over two years: Monthly instalments - 10 in Year 1, and 10 in Year 2 Two instalments - 50% payable at start of Year 1 and 50% payable at start of Year 2 Four instalments - 25% payable in October; 25% payable at end of January in Year 1, and the same in year 2 Six instalments - three terms in Year 1, and three terms in Year 2

More information

  • For a full Master’s degree, you will need to study four core modules followed by an applied research project.
  • If you already have a PGCE, we can transfer 30 credits to this Master's programme (APCL). If you have at least two years' experience within a tertiary or similar education setting, then it might be possible to transfer 30 credits for your prior experience (APEL). This will be considered on a case-by-case basis. Please enquire for further details.
  • You can graduate with other successful students at Plymouth Marjon University's main graduation, or at an online ceremony.

In this session, we’re going to explore our perceptions, and maybe beliefs and assumptions, about education, but also about what we think teaching and learning is.

Why start with your perceptions of education? Surely, you’re doing this Masters degree to hear about the right way of doing education? Well, as education psychologist John Biggs said in this core educational text – How effectively we teach depends, first, on what we think teaching is. If you’ve come here to understand the science of education, then I’m afraid you’ll be disappointed. Education, and the teaching and learning processes that support it, is not a science. But wait! There’s a statement, right there, that needs unpacking. There are plenty of academics and theorists (we’ll discover some of these later in this module) who thought exactly that – that education is a science and we can apply scientific principles to it. But many theorists and researchers have taken issue with this – largely because they see education as such a deeply human process. What we learn, how we learn, why we learn – have so much to do with our own lived experiences. This is the approach we take in this Masters programme – we’ll explore the many theories of learning but we will always invite you to relate these back to your own practice

Let me ask you that question again - why are we starting with your perceptions and experiences of education? Well, one good reason to try to uncover these perceptions is that often we get stuck teaching in the same old way because that’s how we were taught, and it worked for us right? Or that’s what we’re comfortable with. Or we’re getting good results so why change? Over time, we have developed our own beliefs and assumptions about what ‘good teaching’ is and how to do it. Let’s call these our personal ‘theories’ of education. Biggs & Tang go on to say that all teachers have some theory of what they think teaching is, even if they are not explicitly aware of that theory. Teachers’ theories deeply affect the kind of learning environment they create in their classrooms

Let’s unpack that quote a little - ‘even if they are not explicitly aware’ – chances are you’re not aware of your own theory, I certainly wasn’t until I started studying education in an academic context and reflecting on my practice. Your job in this session is to start to become more explicitly aware of your own theories, based on your own experiences.

The second sentence bears repetition too – teachers’ theories deeply affect the kind of learning environment they create in their classrooms – think about that a bit. They are saying that as teachers, our experiences and beliefs, and assumptions about what ‘good teaching’ is, our ‘theories’, have a profound effect on how we set up our classrooms and how we go about our jobs as teachers. And almost certainly on whether our students are learning or not. It is important, then, vital - to bring these personal ‘theories’ to the surface and examine them. See if they’re fit for purpose.

To begin to explore our personal theories of education (and we’ll continue to do this throughout this module), let’s start with our own lived experiences of being educated. All of us were learners once, and you’ve chosen to put yourself back in the role of learner again by studying for this Master’s. I would argue that indeed we never stop learning – I am learning so much more about education through creating this Master’s programme for you, for example. Our experiences of education are likely to be immensely diverse. Let me share my experiences with you.

I went to a large primary school when I was 7, we wore a uniform, lots of sport and reading and maths, projects – my favourite time of all was in the fourth and final year, where we were told we could choose our own project topics – I was obsessed with The Beatles at that time, but my teacher didn’t think that was appropriate to do a project on a rock band – so did the 1960s instead! Loved it…and it was my first experience of truly independent and self-directed learning. My secondary school was an all-girls school which I disliked, very traditional, assemblies every morning, hymnbooks, lots of academic study and homework. My favourite teacher was my geography teacher – she was fun, made the subject come alive, and always had time for me. I went to university in Wales and I loved it. I was the first in my family to go to university. I was independent for the first time in my life, doing what I wanted to do, making new friends, doing new things – but I was taught by a group of academics who would stand at the front of a large lecture hall and talk at me for an hour, sometimes two. I don’t remember being asked what I thought about the topic or what I’d read and I dimly recall the pain of sitting in a silent exam hall, full of hay fever, trying to remember what they’d told me

When I came back to academia some years later to study for my Masters, I was pleasantly surprised to see that the learning experience had changed, on the whole. It was more participatory, I was given choice, and I think importantly, I was asked to reflect on my learning – something I’d never done before. For me, these earlier experiences of education strongly influenced the teacher I am today. I valued being given the choice to learn (not often enough!) and so now I believe in giving students independence in their own learning as often as I can. I appreciated teachers who made the subject relevant and interesting, and I try and do the same as a teacher. And I strive to create relationships with my students that are rooted in respect and understanding – just as I learnt best when I felt understood and respected as a student. My experience on my Master’s degree reminded me of the importance of providing a structure for mature learners, some of whom may not have studied for years. Of course, you’ll be able to judge me as a teacher as we go along, but for me – when I take a moment to reflect, I know this is my teaching approach and where I get most reward.

Now it’s your turn. What were your experiences? Think back to how you were educated in school and then in college or university? What stands out for you? What did you like/ dislike? Can you remember your favourite teacher? What were their qualities? How did they teach you? What did they do? How did they relate to you as a pupil or student? Now think about what kind of teacher or educator you are, or might be. What is your teaching approach? How have your experiences of being educated influenced your teaching? Finally, and this is a big question, so I'm going to leave it with you – what do you think education is for? What is its purpose? Remember your learning journal – I've written these questions down for you, and a few others, to act as prompts to start you reflecting on your own experiences and assumptions. Have some fun with them and I’ll see you in the next session.

I think it’s interesting from time to time to take stock in education and look at how far we’ve come. There are many factors that have come together to bring us to where we are today – in the previous lecture, I took you through a brief history of online learning. We saw how one of the key moments in recent online education history, following the invention of the world wide web, came with the invention of the smartphone. I remember when I was working at another University, in around 2014, we had a Learning Technology team whose job it was to spot trends coming and they flagged up the arrival of the smart phone into education, and how it would change everything. None of us particularly believed it at the time. They also spotted the importance of learner analytics, that is data about student attainment and engagement, put to use to enhance student success – something only achievable when every aspect of education has been shifted online. I had to change my practices, with the arrival in close succession of online assessment and marking (resisted by many at the time) and the requirement to make lectures available online via Panopto (again, resisted at the time). Since that time, there has been an exponential growth of digital capability since the invention of smartphone – and with it, the radical overhaul of the potential of online education following this ‘digital turn’.

Then Covid-19 hit us in early 2020 and suddenly everyone in education had to move everything online, in our case at Marjon within just one week. After decades of resistance, reluctance, exciting new projects that later failed, in one week the argument had been won – the time had passed for any kind of debate, online learning was essential in this modern world and it was here to stay.

Where are we now? I’d like to make a number of points to answer that question – you may be able to think of more from your own recent experience. o Firstly, as we’ve seen in the previous lectures, online learning and teaching has a long and convoluted history, one that it is important for us to acknowledge – and it comes with a corresponding body of academic research and literature that we most certainly need to learn from. We’ll dip into this during this

module and I invite you to read around the topic and find research relevant and useful to you in your own teaching context. o Secondly, we can summarise the principles of online learning that have their roots in the early days of distance learning: an emphasis on social justice, a focus on people and on interaction, and anchored in the concept of teaching quality, first and foremost, whatever the context. o The third point I’d like to make – and it’s been made by many people since early 2020 – is this. As educators, we have to recognise that access to online learning is not equal. We might be forgiven for thinking that this is only a problem for certain parts of the world, in the Global South for example. But a survey by the National Union of Students in the UK in July 2020 revealed a shocking 27% of students in higher education were unable to access online learning. Others face challenges of finding a safe or quiet space to work from home, poor internet connection (still an issue in rural areas), or a lack of necessary hardware - no computers or smart phones, effectively left out of the digital world, existing in what came to be known as ‘digital poverty’. In the Canvas 2020 report, Student Success in Higher Education, access to technology is identified as a ‘critical enabler’. o The next point, linked in some ways to the last one, is that remote and online learning only serves to heighten those disparities already existing in face-to-face education. Again, according to the Canvas report (2020), just 11% of students from lower socio-economic classes found it easy to stay engaged compared to 48% of those in higher classes. This huge gap in student engagement echoes Light et al’s work on ‘learning gaps’ and begs the question, what can we as educators do to ensure engagement is more evenly spread across our student demographic? o It has become an urgent priority then to develop and promote digital literacies as identified by Carrington & Robinson, in 2009. We must debunk the myth of the ‘digital native’ - these are students born since 1990 who have grown up with digital technology from a young age – we must be wary of lumping our learners together under the Net Gen or Gen K umbrella

It is time to return our attention to the two fundamental concepts behind online learning and teaching = teaching quality, whatever the context and technology is a tool not a master.

In the remainder of this lecture, I want to pose the question: are online pedagogies different to face-to-face pedagogies? We’ll address this question in more detail in chapter two but I’d like to leave you with some thoughts from two writers on online pedagogy Helen Beetham and Rhona Sharp.

The title of their 2014 book – Rethinking Pedagogy for a Digital Age – available to you as an e-book in the Marjon library – seems to suggest there is a difference between online and face-to-face pedagogy. They suggest there are two perspectives – one in which technology is only a tool that makes no difference to how we teach – and another that argues that digital technology is key and warn against the danger of relying on the simplistic ‘old pedagogies, new tools’ philosophy. They argue that this new digital world requires a paradigm shift – a wholesale shift in worldview or perspective - towards a digital pedagogy. They suggest that we need to rethink education in its entirety within this new context. In 2014, this seemed like a radical proposition but now, perhaps it’s exactly what we need.

I’ll leave you with their words: ‘Papyrus and paper, chalk and print, overhead projectors, educational toys and television, even the basic technologies of writing were innovations once. The networked digital computer, and its more recent mobile and wireless counterparts are just the latest outcomes of human ingenuity that we have at our disposal. It is true that none of these technologies has changed human beings’ fundamental capacities to learn, if learning is understood in purely cognitivist terms. But they have profoundly changed how ideas and practices are communicated, and what it means to be a knowledgeable or capable person.’ Beetham & Sharp, 2014: 3

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