I’ve just posted my last piece of course work and my reflective journal entry for the end of Module 1 on the online EMBA Healthcare Management. I’m delighted to be part of the very first intake of students taking this course with Learna Business School and validated by the University of Gibraltar.
The reservations I had about my own ability to complete the academic tasks and to usefully engage with my learning group discussions were wiped away in Week 1 – not least because the course started with one of my favourite topics: Business Strategy.
So, what brought me to this online course at this stage, 50 years into my life, with no undergraduate degree background and a busy family pulling at my sleeves as I type?
A year ago you would have found me at my city-center offices or on a train to London with a diary full of meetings. Being Head of Online Learning and Assessment for a world-renowned medical publisher, for many years I led a talented, multidisciplinary team developing digital apps and online-based learning platforms for many thousands of doctors, nurses, and medical students worldwide to complete their annual CME/CPD and to revise for career progressing medical examinations.
My career in online medical education gives me a wealth of scenarios and practical knowledge of how even the best-planned strategies can succeed or falter. But a full-time career also comes at a cost – missing after-school tea-times with my children as they grew up far too quickly; and wanting to learn more and validate my knowledge around some of the theories my work had touched on, but never really having enough time to properly read and reflect.
COVID-19 arrived and we went into national lockdown a week after I’d left my full-time role. Being somewhat forced into taking downtime coupled with skipping the daily commute, I knew I wanted to continue my learning.
This online EMBA sounded perfect for me as I was reflecting on my work experience and wanted to explore some specific areas of business, strategy and leadership. It feels like a luxury to study in this way, at times that suit me, with flexibility around catching up on family time, kitchen refits and during local lockdowns…so in many ways this feels like my own ‘new normal’.
Having no personal higher education experience, I went into the course with a fair dollop of ‘imposter syndrome. But what I found was a great online learning group, a tutor who embraces diverse backgrounds, and working examples for us to apply the many theories and models there are for business strategy. I find I’m building the ability to research topics in relevant academic texts, making use of the Course Library for the best sources of information.
My view of my own experiences and ability to engage in academic writing, attempt some critical thinking, and contribute to the informed discussion has changed considerably in the last six weeks, with great encouragement from the superb tutor group I’m in.
We may still be in a pandemic lockdown here in Wales, but this has not stopped me from engaging actively with my fellow students who are based in Canada, South Africa and England and have many varied backgrounds, just like me. I’m in the learning zone – roll on, Module 2!
Helen Davies – October 2020