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Balancing study, work & SAFFIRE

Juggling the many things we do can be a real challenge. Aligning these things, if possible, can help.

Author: Jarod Carruthers



I've just submitted my last assessment item for the Masters of Higher Education (by coursework and action research projects) at the Australian National University. It's a great feeling after starting this journey part time in 2007. The recent SAFFIRE project (increasing student numbers and retention) started a few months ago and its timing intersected with the last few months of my final units. Everyone had to drop what they were doing and contribute directly to this initiative.

Thankfully, my recent masters projects focused on e-Portfolios, which are shaping up to be a prominent part of SAFFIRE. All the e-Portfolio growth and adoption to date (2009-2013) has been organic - lots of one-on-one conversations, individual pilots, leading to very recent whole of discipline approaches. At least 3 faculties now have people with e-Portfolio experience, so there has already been a lot of ground work laid for SAFFIRE. SAFFIRE plans include expanding the use of e-Portfolios though first year experience programs, Alumni offerings, etc.

Overall, the alignment between my formal course and work has meant that the output of the study is directly relevant to, and can be directly applied to, my learning design work. It also means I have enjoyed the total support of my supervisors. Unless you're looking to change your career it's the only way to go. The first half of my masters was studied fully online through University of Southern Queensland, a post-grad certificate in online learning, being online anyone around the world can take the course. I would have finished the masters as USQ however I wanted more face-to-face interaction and also wanted to maintain a relationship with my colleagues at ANU where I had worked previously, so the second half I studied locally and face-to-face at the ANU.

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