Technical Communication & E-Learning MA

Earlier this month I submitted my final MA project to the University of Limerick! I felt a massive sense of achievement, it has definitely been an extremely challenging year.  I decided to  complete an MA in 2016, but just missed the enrolment deadline. I waited a year before I could begin and wow! time has flown. My results are due in November.

This blog post is about the Technical Communication & E-Learning MA offered at Limerick University.

I found this MA through the ISTC website and it was listed as an accredited program for Technical Communication. I’ve always described myself as part technical communicator, part instructional designer as my job roles have always been a mix of the two. For me this MA was perfect as it allowed me to study both areas. The MA is offered by the University of Limerick, Ireland.  I would have preferred to have studied at a UK University, solely because it would have meant I could attend classes and workshops more frequently and easily, but there isn’t  actually a UK university offering this MA! I had a look at the University of Hertfordshire and the University of Roehampton who offer similar E-Learning degrees, but I preferred the modules in the MA that Limerick offered.  The video below provides a good overview of the MA.

The podcasts and materials provided on this MA were great and there were forums to ask questions and talk to other members of the cohort. My professors were great and extremely supportive and knowledgeable. I do however feel I lacked the social experience of university – it’s not  quite the same as when you attend a course with other students over a long period of time. You build relationships and share information, I feel that even though it was always encouraged online, I didn’t get that exact same experience as when I completed my IT Foundation Degree (which I completed on campus in the UK). However it was a much better experience then my undergraduate degree – I completed this online and had no social interaction with any other students! So it was definitely an improvement.  

The MA is offered as a 1 year full time or 2 year part time program. You can complete it via distance learning or attend lectures on campus. As I live in London, I completed my MA via distance learning in 1 year. You do actually have to attend campus for orientation and there are some optional weekend workshops you can go to – I went to one of these but couldn’t attend the second workshop due to it being quite costly to fly over.

One of the downsides of distance learning was not being able to access the library easily – the university were very supportive and did say they could post books out to me, however in the end I decided to purchase a lot of the core texts. I did manage to find quite a lot online second hand in good condition. It wasn’t a requirement to purchase the texts, but I would recommend purchasing the core text book as the degree does reference it quite a bit. I was surprised we didn’t get this as part of the MA, as with my undergraduate degree I would always receive the core text book. I guess all universities are different. 

I really wanted to complete this MA in a year and dropped a day of work to concentrate on my studies, however I wish I had given myself more time as I underestimated the amount of work it would take to complete. I think the university recommends something like 40 hours of study per week to get the most out of it – I was managing about  25  hours a week with work and family commitments. I did especially well during the Spring semester and received a recognition letter from the president which was really nice!! I was aiming for a distinction , but I think I am more than likely to get a merit. It’s still a good achievement, but I always like to aim high and do kick myself when I  don’t hit my goals.

I think for me the hardest thing was there were SO MANY topics I was interested in. There was SO MUCH additional reading that I wanted to complete but just didn’t have the time. The good thing is I am still reading articles and still accessing bookmarks – just because I’ve finished the MA doesn’t mean I’ve stopped learning. The topics covered were so interesting to me and as geeky as it sounds, this MA just really excited me and completing it has been one of the best decisions I have made.

The modules I completed for this MA are as follows, as a side note I decided to complete a project rather than a dissertation.

  • Principles of Professional and Technical Communication and Information Design
  • Instructional Design
  • Theory of Technical Communication
  • Research Methods in Technical Communication and E-Learning
  • Workplace Issues in Technical and Professional Communication
  • E-Learning Theories and Practices
  • Interactive Courseware Workshop
  • Learning and Collaboration Technologies
  • Dissertation/ Project

Topics covered included (not an exhaustive list!) history of technical communication, typography, graphic design, writing in plain English, XML, interview techniques , instructional design theories and practices, research techniques, learning management systems, e-learning/distance learning/webinars and teaching online, working in teams and collaboration,  principles for creating course materials and educational content. 

I enjoyed the assignments as they were quite practical, which is why I decided to choose the project route rather than dissertation. I enjoy writing but I am much better at project work and practical tasks. Completing the project was great as I was able to build upon existing skills and apply new knowledge.

I would recommend this degree to anyone interested in technical communication and/or e-learning and the link to the programme is below!

University of Limerick

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