Ashlin Mathew – Online Education Research: What does the future of lifelong learning look like?

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Programme of Study and Year: MA (Hons) Economics and Politics, finished second year

Intern Position: Online Education Research Intern

A bit about me

My name is Ashlin, and I’m going into my third year, studying Economics and Politics! I’m doing a research internship within the Online Learning Marketing Team at ISG focusing on online and lifelong learning education.

I’m originally Indian, and have grown up in Malawi, in sub-Saharan Africa. I’m quite social, and enjoy spending time with my best friends and family. I also enjoy going to the gym and watching TV shows.

My Projects

The University of Edinburgh is planning on launching a short course platform in 2024, which will mean that all of our non-credited short courses that are currently displayed on different websites and webpages will be accessible from one website, which will bring together all the University’s non-credited short courses on one website. My first project was to research our main competitors and identify how they approach presenting their short courses on their websites, so that we’re able to get an idea of what works in the market and what doesn’t. I identified a list of 26 competitors (e.g., Harvard University and Manchester University) and examined and analysed their websites by looking at the layout, filter, colour scheme, imagery, word choice and much more.

This gave me insight as to what were the most popular trends regarding the layout and other features of the webpages. For example, 84.6% of the universities examined have a search bar on the introduction page of the website, which indicates that having a search bar is very popular and useful. This can be a factor that our University can take into account when designing our website.

My current project is regarding the lifelong education market, and my role is to research into the future of the lifelong learning market. Lifelong learning refers to any intentional learning activities conducted throughout a person’s lifetime to improve their knowledge, skills, and competencies from an individual, municipal, societal, and/or career standpoint. There are many different ways to learn, for example, Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) and online masters degrees. I am exploring questions such as ‘What does the future of lifelong learning look like globally?’ and my final report will help the University understand the future of the lifelong education market, and explore potential growth opportunities for the University.

I’m always happy to apply my degree to any work that I’m doing, and my favourite part about Economics is that it is a subject that has many practical applications. I was overjoyed to be researching about the lifelong education market, exploring growth opportunities and how the future of the market will look, including the economic benefits of lifelong learning, which I enjoyed doing as it is practical applications of my degree.

Skills I have learnt so far

This internship has taught me many skills. The main reason I applied for this internship was to learn how to do research to a high standard. This role taught me how to identify credible sources, and relevant information, as the topics are quite broad. I’ve learnt how to critically evaluate data and statistics, and skim through a lot of information in order to select relevant parts. I have improved my presentation skills, as I’ve had to present my project to my manager and other members of the team. I’ve also improved my formal report writing and briefing style. My second project is structured in the style of an academic paper, which has taught how to develop my own writing style.

I’ve really enjoyed meeting so many different people. ISG is a large department, and I’ve met staff that are working in different parts of the department, from education policy to short courses, and I’ve gotten a chance to hear about their roles and learn so much. I’ve also met many other ISG interns, and I’ve enjoyed spending time with them and creating new friendships. Especially on days where we work from home, I’ve met up with some of the other interns at the library, and we all worked together. This internship has given me the opportunity to connect with students in different subject areas, and it was interesting to learn more about their roles.

Finally, the office experience has been beneficial to teach me things like how to work in an office environment and understand corporate culture. It’s preparing me for any full-time jobs that I get in the future.

Thank you for taking the time to read my blog post. If you have any questions about my project and my role please let me know, I’d be happy to chat!

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