For three years I have been tutoring on the online degree at Anglia Ruskin University, affectionately referred to as ‘Ultraversity‘. It is a BA (Hons) Learning Technology Research and is done entirely online, using your work place setting as the basis of your study. In effect, you learn to undertake action research, focussing on your work and learning how to be better at what you do.
It’s a tough slog to get through, as all worth while degrees are. It’s innovative, and now being imitated by others… which can be considered the best kind of flattery I suppose.
The cohort of students who have just completed the three years are the first to go through en masse – there were six pioneers last year, but this year we had 140 and we completely dominated the graduation ceremony. The cathedral in Chelmsford was packed for our event, with many friends and family there to support the graduates. It was an emotional day.
One of the best parts for me was the speech by Revd. Simon Barrington-Ward, who made mention of UCANA – bless, no one had briefed him about the fact that David Tidmarsh closed down UCANA soon after arriving at Anglia Ruskin. What a shame, as it was UCANA who helped us validate the Ultraversity degree in the first place. Three years later and Tidmarsh seems hell bent on dismantling Ultralab as well… someone really ought to tell him to wake up and smell the coffee… it is Ultralab who are driving forward new research into such things, and it is the University who are falling back on old routines and traditions which may well entrench them firmly at the bottom of the league tables for learning, IMO.
Still, let’s not take anything away from the graduates – they have never met before today and there were a lot of people going around looking discretely at each others’ chests! With some food and drink as well, it turned into a very good humoured affair. Pity the university are not able to see what they have got, really!
So, what began as Professor Stephen Heppell’s idea came of age on Friday 24th November 2006. It will be interesting to see where the idea goes from here. One thing seems certain… at Anglia Ruskin it won’t flourish to the extent that it should, despite some very high quality people working hard to take it forward (good luck, team!). The leadership of the university don’t seem to value e-learning, which in 2006 is a fairly serious failing, I’d say!
Nevermind. 140 graduates after three brilliant years are now at a life changing point. I wish them all health and happiness and the very best of good fortune – they all deserve it.