“ Taking time out to train can appear as an insuperable barrier. Learning while working overcomes this and benefits by its interaction with continuing work. It really can be a 'win win' solution”
— Kevin Hall, director of the e-Masters in Policy Management and Government at the University of York
Online learning: the benefits
The study options include stand-alone short courses and full Masters qualifications, and can accommodate individual enrolment and specially tailored courses for groups of individuals. Substantial choice is offered within these options depending on participants' needs and priorities.
A central feature of the online approach at York is that participants join in with a structured series of weekly online discussion forums. These are tutor-led, in small groups, and mean that participants can learn together, share ideas and benefit from the close and ongoing support of their tutors and peers. Together with the rich resources and learning material on which each module is based, these factors together create a climate in which the learning experience is as in-depth and potentially rewarding as in any classroom.
As one current participant put it: Having studied previously as a full and part-time university student, I can honestly say that the sense of camaraderie and support from fellow students and tutors via the online Masters is second to none. Don't let the 'remote' aspect put you off, I know my online colleagues better than those I sat with in lectures, and have more contact with my tutors.
Participants can join in with the discussion forums at the times that suit them and their other commitments. While regular participation is important, this flexibility can be crucial for busy managers in increasingly pressurised roles. The fact that study is interwoven with work also makes for extremely close connections between the two. In the constrained climate of the public sector, where time away from the coal face for things such as training is a challenge, the way in which online learning can be woven into daily life is a substantial plus.
Rich learning in an international context
The global nature of the big trends and pressures affecting public services means that there is huge scope for, and value in, sharing experience internationally between managers who are grappling with a common set of problems. While the details of, say, performance measurement regimes vary between locations, the underlying challenges of managing within them are likely to be very similar. How can the 'unintended consequences' of public sector performance targets be avoided? How should performance data actually be used and to whose benefit? Who defines what counts as 'good' performance? What is the citizen's role in this? Online learning offers an opportunity for public sector managers to work together on these kinds of issues, regardless of their sector or location.
Expertise in the field
The courses are backed by the University's understanding of the public sector and its expertise in the issues that the courses cover. They have worked in government for many years and are driven by a commitment to enabling talent to flourish in the interests of better performance and ultimately of citizens. The distinctive approach to online learning that they offer reflects this commitment and the University's high standing in teaching, research, and individual support.
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