This review is for the PGCEi from the University of Nottingham. It’s a bit general – see links for more details.
Overview of modules
There are 3 modules on this course.
- Module 1 focuses on educational aims and values in international contexts. More details in this post.
- Module 2 focused on learning and teaching in international contexts. More details in this post.
- Module 3 focused on inquiring into educational practice. It was research-based, we had to do a qualitative study related to our teaching context. I replicated a study by Fitch et al (2020). I summarized that study (not mine) recently for Nexus Education.
Content for Modules 1 and 2 was excellent – probably the best I’ve come across on a distance learning course. Module 2 in particular had lots of choice and covered a broader range of theories and approaches than I’d expected. It was also pretty up-to-date. You can get a better idea of some of the reading in this post.
Module 3 was your standard (qualitative) research methods unit but again comprehensive. There was a tad more focus on research ethics compared to the other Level 7 courses I’ve taken, which is necessary but slightly boring. COVID made the research side of things a bit tough, although many of us were still able to apply what we’d learnt.
Module content rating: 4.5/5
Recommendation: Relatively balanced content, but a bit more on cognition, memory, etc would have been good. Slight skew to towards (social) constructivist approaches. Hey, it’s education.
After a short f2f introduction, the whole thing was then online distance learning. Overall, the Moodle platform was okay although it could have been easier to navigate. Not as dynamic as some others I’ve used either. Probs not as good as the NILE one for my MA which varied the interactions a bit more.
There was lots of compulsory posting in a forum to encourage interaction. That worked well to begin with when everyone was doing modules at a similar pace. It became a bit redundant as course progressed. There were times when posting felt like going through the motions, but other times when it really helped me process my thoughts and bounce ideas off others. Was also good to ‘lurk’ and learn about other teachers’ contexts.
Moodle rating: maybe a generous 4… no. 3.9/5
Recommendation: video responses (like Flipgrid style) now and then as standard. More (willing) collaboration.
Other course interaction
The course was crying out for more f2f interaction. It did feel like, after the first week intro at a hotel here in Bangkok, we were kinda cut adrift a bit. Definitely some more online tutorials needed. These popped up over lockdown but should have been as standard.
There was a WhatsApp group for the cohort, that helped a lot and was a good place to get quick advice.
Course interaction rating: 3.5/5
Recommendations: Monthly check-ins at least. Even if it’s a fun social thing. Breakout room speed chats or something. As well as some more content delivered via webinars.
Communication with tutors
So… communication wasn’t great. Tutors definitely could have been more present, but I think that varied depending on which tutor. Mine was okay.
As the course went on, well, everyone had Covid stuff to deal with, some tutors were laid off, others had personal stuff to deal with. So can’t really be negative about communication at that time. Overall though, communication is definitely an area for improvement on this course.
Communication rating: 3.5/5
Recommendation: See above, same thing. Just being more present. Quicker responses.
The tutors adapted Module 3 as it was hard for some teachers to do the research. Extended lit reviews were one alternative. Under the circumstances I think they did well. That being said, this has always been an online course, so they were more prepared than anyone to deal with content delivery during such challenging times.
COVID contingency rating: Fairly well-executed. The Whatsapp chat with my cohort absorbed some of the angst though.
The course content on the PGCEi is solid. It is only a 10-month course but they cram a lot in. The core reading has been really well-selected and only needs minor enhancements I’d say. Getting in a few experts for areas like EAL to make those optional modules a bit more meaty might help.
More varied input, more webinars/seminars/online socials/etc would also improve the course. The fees have gone up a bit this year – maybe that’s because they’ve increased the offer in some way? Who knows…
What I recommend it? Yes. A good grounding in theory of teaching and learning in international contexts, with a research project linking to your educational practice. A bit isolating. Certainly enhances career prospects.
Overall rating 4/5
Link to the course info here.
Link to why I think you should do it here.