Studying a programme by distance learning with the Ironbridge Institute is not the lonely experience that distance learning once might have been.
The programmes are designed to keep you in touch with fellow students and tutors and give you good opportunities to meet them at the beginning and at study schools.
Virtual learning environment
Our ‘virtual learning environment’ is a website which uses software known as WebCT (you dont have to buy any software) holds the teaching materials you will need as well as the discussion groups.
WebCT also contains links to online resources such as libraries, e-journals and any webpages which provide useful content for the programme. Your programme is structured so that every taught module is broken down into a number of meaningful sections, each of which discusses particular issues. You will follow the module, one section at a time, as the materials are released on the website on the dates specified.
Typically you might be required to read through a section over two or three weeks and then to contribute to group discussions on that issue. Afterwards a new section of the module is made available to you and you move on to that new topic, reading and thinking about that particular issue, and discussing it online with your ‘classmates’ and tutor.
You will not be expected to log on at specified times for discussions – although WebCT has the facility for real-time chat and you are free to use it – but to contribute to a discussion group by a certain date. That way everyone can discuss the same issue at roughly the same time.
The exact set-up for personal tutoring will depend on the number of students taking a programme in any year but you will always have a personal tutor who will provide guidance on your assessed assignments. You will normally remain with this tutor throughout the programme.
Tutors will be available by email (either through the mail feature in WebCT or by conventional email) and during UK office hours (Monday to Friday, 9.00-17.00) by phone. We aim to reply to your email or, if we cannot speak on the phone when you ring, to return your call within 48 hours.
You will also meet your tutor for a personal tutorial on the introductory day of the programme and at study weeks in Ironbridge or other parts of the country. We also keep a close eye on activity on the WebCT site and may get in touch with you from time to time to see how things are going.