Sue, thanks for taking the time to share your study experience with us. Could you tell us a little about your background, and about your decision to begin an online master’s programme?

Hi! I’ve been studying with from Ontario, Canada. I work at a national centre for workplace health & safety here, providing online H&S initiatives for the Canadian federal government. This is the first degree programme which I’ve studied through distance learning, although I’ve taken many other forms of non-credit bearing online programmes in the past. Going into this programme I really wanted to leverage the experience of studying with other global participants and being exposed to their opinions, as well as learning what they had to offer in terms of fresh ideas and a new perspective on the various programme case-studies, for example. Throughout the course I found it fascinating that, whereas I would have one perspective, someone who was from another global vantage point would have a very different point of view.

Could you give us an example of how that interaction worked for you?

Well, if you posted to the online student forum and said ‘Hi everyone, I’ve answered a couple of the questions from last week and here’s what I thought’, subsequently other people would post back and you’d be able to compare and contrast your answers. So, it was incredibly useful to tap into that global body of experience; from an African marketer’s perspective to a Canadian marketer’s perspective. I think that having a broad mix of people from all points across the globe lends great value and great insight to the work, because you don’t have a sense of isolation, you have a real sense of studying within a community. This programme made me realise how important it is to open yourself up to other perspectives. One example is, long before you’re handing in your final assignment, you can get up to speed on the topic through reading other students’ work. I regularly found that other students had very compelling arguments about how to approach different audiences, which I hadn’t ever thought of myself.

And now that your programme is coming to an end, Sue, what’s next on your horizon?

Well, my next step will actually be to re-process my research here at the centre where I work, because I think that the areas that I’ve been studying have applicability to my work here. I just want to keep going with online learning! I’ve already been able to apply a lot of what I have learned from the programme, there’s no doubt about that. I’d say I’ve already put to use more than seventy percent of the things I’ve learned, which is clearly a very high ratio. Overall I feel I have been treated with tremendous respect, and seriousness. When my questions needed to be answered, they were answered. I was clearly within a peer supportive environment. If there’s a message to take away here, it’s that you are in there with your peers and colleagues from your profession, so you need to fully take advantage of their different points of view. Online learners need to lean on one another and discover what wonderful knowledge and insights already exist. And we need to be brave and consider that working in isolation has some merit, but the more you can get out of sharing with your course supervisor and fellow students, the more this opens up new doors and possibilities.

“The advantage of the programme was not only its excellent online delivery - it was also wonderful to read other peoples’ feedback and enter a mutually cooperative learning environment.”

Sue Freeman studied her MSc in Marketing online from her home in Ontario, Canada. A professional marketer with more than 12 years’ experience under her belt, we decided to catch up with Sue as her study programme draws to a close. Sue offered some fascinating insights into the online study process, and here she shares her thoughts and gives a few practical tips about how to get the most out of your online degree programme.