One of the most enjoyable aspects of working in online education is collaborating with creative academics to produce engaging, authentic content for our learners. We recently had the pleasure of working with Dr Mariya Eranova from Royal Holloway, University of London on a new International Business and Accounting module, part of our BSc Business Administration programme. Mariya has extensive and relevant professional experience of working in international business and she wanted to share this with our learners by linking the real world of work to the academic context of the module.
Linking theory to practice
Mariya wanted to introduce her experiences from the field in an engaging way, so she decided to tell her stories through a series of podcasts (audio recordings). Through these podcasts, Mariya opens a window into the world of international business, sharing the secrets of how to break into this field and what it is actually like, warts and all.
Listening to Mariya’s voice is relaxing and motivating, like listening to a radio show. She makes working in international business sound exciting, fulfilling and possible, but she is down to earth and honest as she shares what is difficult and where she personally encountered challenges. This kind of real-life insight isn’t easily conveyed in textbooks.
Mariya’s stories prepare our learners cognitively for the academic content of the module, by setting the context and demonstrating why the theory is important. According to Mariya, ‘the podcasts are an opportunity to show students how the big things discussed in their academic reading can be brought to an individual level’.
Michelle Gallagher, Academic Editor, says, ‘Mariya’s passion and enthusiasm for her subject was evident in every aspect of the learning content. In particular, the series of personal podcasts, which draw heavily on her own experiences within the international business domain, really brought the subject alive’.
Podcasts add an extra dimension to the learning materials
Vicky Devaney, the Learning Designer on this module, sees the benefits of Mariya’s podcasts. ‘I love Mariya’s idea because it adds an extra dimension to the learning materials. The real-life stories help students make sense of how the theory relates to the real world. Podcasts are ideal for online learners, who often have competing demands on their time. They have the option of listening on the go, as they commute, exercise or do the housework. I think that podcasts also show the teacher in a different light, helping the students to feel connected with their instructor.’
I think there’s something special about spoken word recordings that you don’t get from video or reading on screen. Something that allows you to take time away from the screen and to lose yourself in a memorable world of new ideas and opportunities. It’s almost magic.
Anna Armstrong (Learning Designer)
With thanks to Mariya Eranova, Vicky Devaney and Michelle Gallagher for their contributions and inspiration for this post.