Graduating is not something you do every day. Graduating from a new course and mode of delivery is even rarer. This year we’re celebrating our first UTS Online graduates, marking the culmination of the time, energy and hard work of our pioneering students and staff.
We spoke with some of the newest graduates from two UTS online courses and their teachers to get their perspective of this innovative way of learning.
UTS Online offers fully online accelerated courses with our Online Program Management (OPM) partner, Keypath. Students can select from 29 entirely online postgraduate degrees (and the range is growing) and generally study one subject for seven weeks, with six study periods available each year. Visit the official site to find out more about UTS Online.
Master of Health Services Management
Serena Ayers (Student)
I wanted to find a course to help me be a strong leader for the future, because I want to be able to shape the health service of tomorrow. That wasn’t going to be achieved by a “traditional” course that focusses on the past or even the current way of doing things. UTS was the only course I looked at which had components that made me think it would generate future ready leaders.
I really enjoy being able to dip in and out of study whenever I have time, rather than having to fit into the university’s schedule. I’m also pleased that I can do this study from a rural/remote setting, as it’s often difficult to access really good courses when you’re based in those areas. I think this brings equity of access to those practicing in settings outside of the major cities, which is something I’m passionate about.
The flip side of this flexibility is that your time management and discipline must be good. You are creating your own study plans, and scheduling things for yourself, rather than the university doing this for you. So, you must make sure you’ve planned, set aside a realistic amount of time, and can complete the key assessments at the right point in time. However, UTS have some great student advisors who are a wonderful resource and remain with you throughout your course.
I’m working in the hospital executive team at the moment but would like to go into a systems role. I’m passionate about broad systems change, and hope to apply the learnings from the Master’s, my previous MBA and my career experiences to do that.
The teaching faculty and tutors have been excellent, so a big thank you! I really appreciate all the time they spend with the class in tutorials, giving feedback on our assignments (which is one of the most helpful things in spotting where you need to improve) and in answering all our queries on email and on Canvas (which must be a lot). The course content on Canvas itself is excellent and paced realistically so that it pushes you but is definitely the right depth and achievable in the timeframe.A message from Serena to her tutors
Jo Travaglia (Head of Discipline)
Teaching an OPM course is significantly different to other modes in that almost all the content work is done before you even come into contact with the students. That means that for the length of the subject your teaching opportunities and interactions with students are solely online – either via discussion boards and emails or learning activities and Zoom sessions. This in turn requires a finely tuned skill set to be able to identify students’ needs, in particular (but not only) when they are struggling.
The teaching team go onto Canvas every day (actually multiple times a day) to check what students are doing, provide feedback on their activities, and answer any questions they post or email to us. Even though we regularly have classes of over 150 students, even if only five or 10 per cent of them contact you on a given day that’s still quite a lot of emails or posts you have to answer promptly.
Students have assessments every two weeks. With almost all of our students working on top of study, they often work on their assessments on the weekends or evenings – and when they have a question, they need it answered as soon as possible so they can get on with their assessments and learning activities.
We have learnt a lot from our OPM partner, Keypath, in terms of condensing information and learning experiences without losing either the academic rigour or the learning experience for students. Their support in the initial stages, during the pandemic, was really important in our being able to develop and deliver the program in the time we did.
Each member of our team has received emails (often multiple) from students saying ‘I got a job or a promotion because of what I have learnt in this subject/course.’ It shows that our subjects, and the course as a whole is up to date and is providing what the health and social care sectors are looking for in terms of their workforce. That is really satisfying – because after all, that is what we are here for.
I cannot express how proud we are to have travelled this journey with you. As our first cohort of graduating students from the online program, you have already shown so many of the leadership capabilities we know your employers are looking for: critical thinking; flexibility; empathy; and tenacity. We look forward to hearing about your progress and successes over the coming months and years and want to you always feel that you are part of the health services management community at UTS.A message from Jo to her graduating students
Master of Business Analytics
Cristiano Kochenborger (Student)
I had been thinking of going back to study for a while. However, I was not convinced that I had enough resilience to commit to studying and working full time. Then COVID-19 came and the whole situation changed. I found myself with more time to spare and I did not want to waste on something non-productive. I was looking for a course that would complement my professional experience. The privilege of studying at UTS and the fact that the course was online were the top-selling points.
The seven-week terms make the course very dynamic and fast-paced. In a typical week, I would spend at least two hours every night going through the online material, ensuring that I had the weekends to dedicate to the assignments and assessments. It is crucial to be up to date with the study material and exercises with such a short period of study.
For me, the most challenging aspect of studying wholly online is that classes are less frequent and shorter than in person. A lesson delivered with the students in class is different from an online version of the same lesson and requires precise delivery of the subject.
For anyone thinking about studying a Master of Business Analytics with UTS Online, I would say, “go for it.” It’s a well-balanced course, and it will provide you with a great mix of business, technology, and data analytics knowledge.
My professional experience is in IT application support. Once I have completed the Master of Business Analytics, I intend to use the skills and knowledge acquired during the course to explore other areas.
I had great tutors during the course, all of them very open and willing to assist in ensuring I would succeed on the subject. Thank you.A message from Cristiano to his tutors
Dave Bond (Senior Lecturer)
A typical week during a study period begins with sending out a Monday morning email to the group. Given my subject doesn’t have weekly classes, this email allows me to provide some reflection of where we’ve been and where we’re going. Throughout the rest of the week, I check Canvas daily and respond to student posts as needed.
Our classes aren’t lectures as such, more using what students have done leading up to it. So in weeks when I have a class running, I’m reviewing student responses and preparing for the class based on what they’ve been posting or asking.
The speed at which we move through the study period can be challenging. Because the OPM model is still fairly new through the university, not everyone is across this, so I’ve found that there can be implications for getting other work done during an OPM study period.
Teaching an OPM course has been a true cross-disciplinary team experience to bring subjects to life and then deliver them. Whilst no teaching is completely individual, the number of people from different functional areas in UTS (academics, Post Graduate Learning Design team, faculty and OPM team professional staff) as well as Keypath mean it’s truly a team effort.
Getting to work with a group of highly engaged and determined students has been incredibly rewarding. Even though many of us have never met face to face ever, you really did get to know them.
For those of who you are graduating shortly, you should all be incredibly proud of what you’ve achieved. You embarked on this journey at the start of a global pandemic, and you’ve shown determination and resilience to see this through to the end. I’m honoured you chose to put your faith in what was then a new and untested program, and I hope what you’ve learnt along the way will serve you well.A message from Dave to his graduating students