All Paula Shaw’s adult working life has been spent delivering education and training to adults of varying ages. She began 30 years ago in Further Education, in 1998 moved into Higher Education and from 2000 began to specialise in online education.
In 2011 she began working as an Academic Manager for the newly formed department UDOL (University of Derby Online Learning) through which she has significantly influenced UDOL’s expansion from seven programmes (649 students) to 40 programmes (3,500 students). As part of this she currently manages approximately 1000 students on 13 programmes in six disciplines with a roughly equal split between UK and International students.
Impact of work
Through her research Paula has developed and presented her ‘Practice Orientated Framework for Modelling Online Learning’, ensuring that horizon scanning, pedagogy and educational planning are integral to online students’ experiences. Through application of this model she has been able to demonstrate her ability to respond efficiently and effectively to societal expectations including changes in technology and models of education that place increasing demands on finite resources.
As a lifelong online learner she is able to demonstrate that online learning can offer a rich and rewarding, equivocally different HE experience. Her pedagogic influence, modelling and training academics in the art of online social learning, has led to an impressive 95.5% retention rate for online part-time students, and all of the UDOL programmes have either been rated Gold or Silver when TEF metrics have been applied.
Reaching beyond her role Paula has influenced the University’s ‘Centre for Student Life’ to support in providing a ‘virtual campus’ and not a deficit model of University Education.
Plans for the future
As we move into a new era of blended experiences her tenacity for championing the marginalised will ensure that transitioning between study modes won’t compromise students’ experiences. She acknowledges that University life may be experienced in different ways but all students should feel welcome, supported and valued irrespective of their study mode. She will continue to apply herself with honesty, integrity, confidentially, morality, respect and compassion to the art of developing others (staff and students) to serve their professions and the public with confidence and competence.
Online Learning Academic Manager
University of Derby