Master's in Distance Learning
April 19, 2005 8:07 AM   Subscribe

I'm interested in an M.A. degree in education, specifically in curriculum design for on-line/distance learning. Here's an example from Univ. of Maryland (M.A. in Distance Learning) . Has anyone pursued this degree? If so, did you do your coursework in person or on-line? Is the job market good? Which institutions are most respected in their programs? Any info appreciated.
posted by nancoix to Education (3 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Good luck finding someone here that has gone through that program or a program like it but it you hear anything, I sure too would like to know more about it.

By the way, you might want to checkout my former employer, Clarity Innovations, Inc. They do a lot of work in that field. Additionally, you might also want to check out Tom Layton's (a former teacher and coworker of mine) site.
posted by pwb503 at 6:04 PM on April 19, 2005

The degree you're interested in is in a very narrow niche, which means that MetaFilter may not be the best place to get answers. Some thoughts:

(1) Most of the people working on the degree are probably teachers, and almost certainly are working. So the degree isn't geared, probably, to helping find people a job in the field immediately upon graduation. (Also, keep in mind in a lot of school districts, teachers can increase their pay by taking additional education courses and/or getting a graduate degree.)

(2) The University of Maryland (and other fine institutions of learning) is certainly interested in getting you to enroll in the program. You should not only be able to get written information, but also be able to talk to a graduate advisor about such things as the job market. (He/she should specifically be able to point to job listings and/or successful graduates - ideally, but probably unlikely, to actual statistics maintained by the institution.)

(3) Course instructors (adjunct professors, whatever) are also another source of information; if there is no on-line contact information, the school should be willing to provide contact information, or contact the instructors and ask them to contact you.

(4) Almost always, you can take a course or two to test out a program, then decide whether you want to take all the classes necessary to get the degree (as well as formally applying for the degree program.)

(5) It's best if you actually enjoy taking classes (graduate programs with older students are, in my opinion, generally better than undergraduate ones, for both instructors and other students), and the subject you'll be studying, without expectations that there is a job once you have the degree. Because there probably isn't a high demand for people with exactly this degree, or most other professional degrees - the degree can be a nice add-on, or discriminator, but isn't a standalone guarantee of a job.

(6) I doubt that there are many masters degree programs of this type, and certainly not long-established ones, so there probably isn't any "objective" ranking out there for such programs. In such cases, the presige (or lack thereof) of the school, in general, might be an approximation. However, in most cases professional degrees are taught by part-time (non-research, non-tenured) instructors, so the quality of the regular faculty at the school isn't tightly linked to such degrees.
posted by WestCoaster at 8:49 PM on April 19, 2005

I would look at this degree as studying instructional design with a focus on online learning, for which there are a lot of jobs, including human factors, usability specialists, information architects, analysts, etc. Talk to the career center at the school before committing, but personally, I think that as an instructional designer with a niche, you have a better chance at getting jobs than most instructional designers, at least for any job that will have an online component, which is most of them now. Columbia Teachers College has a similar program, check that out and call their career people as well.
posted by xammerboy at 10:03 PM on April 19, 2005

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