Distance education for teachers: a course for celebration

Posted February 27, 2012, by Mike Kermode

Studying by distance isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. But for 44 year-old education student Sylvia Taylor, it provided an opportunity to fulfil a lifelong wish to become a teacher.

Since high school, and throughout her 25 years in the superannuation industry, Sylvia coveted two things: a university degree, and the skills to provide an education to children.

‘The longer I stayed in the workforce and the older I and my own children became, I started to think that getting a degree and becoming a teacher was slipping out of my reach and would not become reality’.

Then something happened that would prove to be a catalyst for reconnecting with her dream – the 2009 financial downturn, and her consequent redundancy.

‘I remember talking to one of my girlfriends and having real doubts about starting a four-year degree at age 43. She wisely said that I can choose to be 47 and have a degree, or turn 47 and still not have one’.

She chose the former. Enrolling in a Certificate III Teacher’s Aide course at her local TAFE gave her a foothold in education. Then she enrolled in a Bachelor of Education (Primary) with OUA and Curtin University. It was available by distance – which, for Sylvia, was perfect.

‘Having children to care for and a husband who is employed on a shift work basis within the emergency services industry and is regularly on call, does not provide me with the consistent timeframes needed to attend classes on campus’, says Sylvia. ‘Because I can complete a large proportion of my university work while my children are at school and my husband is at work, I can minimise the impact on our family life’.

It also means she can work as a teacher’s aide while she studies. And while her education course includes some in-class practical training, most of it is completed online – a learning environment she considers superior to that of on-campus.

‘Everything I need to be successful is available to me online’, she says. ‘This includes access to textbooks and additional library reading, assistance with study and assignment techniques, effortless online enrolment and access to FEE-HELP, access to tutors and a peer group for support while completing the units’.

Sylvia says that apart from feeding her passion for childhood literacy and education, her distance studies will expand her skills and her employment potential. Studying education has also given her a new sense of optimism.

‘I feel like I have made a fresh start and extended the possibilities of what I can achieve in the future’, she says. ‘I am very proud of what I achieved so far and look forward to learning in an exciting and fulfilling career’.

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Mike Kermode

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