I decided to apply for a Master's in Digital Education. Not only does this appear to be an area of increasing importance in this digital age, but I believe it will benefit my career. Fortunately for me, it also combines several of my interests and matches my experience. I have worked in IT, taught students of all ages, on three continents, and have an interest in writing.
So I submitted three applications - to Edinburgh, Manchester and Leeds, and I've been waiting for Edinburgh to respond.
Leeds responded very quickly, making an unconditional offer. It took a little while for Manchester to get back to me, which appears to have been an administrative error. I contacted them and they apologised and sent me an offer ten minutes later. Not a problem, though. I've worked in Higher Education administration and these things happen.
Edinburgh haven't really got back to me, despite a couple of phone calls and emails over a few weeks. (Edited to add: Two months later, and they never responded at all). The programme leader did send a couple of responses, but wouldn't give any information and insisted it was administration who needed to reply to me. When I finally did manage to speak to administration, four days after the course commenced, they advised me they would make an offer. But they were uninterested, and couldn't explain why it had taken so long.
Maybe it's because of my Scottish heritage, but I think I had my heart set on Edinburgh. However, as a distance learner, we need support, and I figured if they couldn't respond to a polite email asking how my application was proceeding, they wouldn't respond when I really needed assistance. They ruled themselves out.
I'm sure Leeds would have been fine. They seem like a good University, but what absolutely nailed it for me was the responses from Manchester. The programme leader sent an email, and I'm sure it was generic and automated, but it was personal in wording and invited any questions I may have about the course. I took the opportunity to ask a couple of quick questions about modules and assessment, and not only did I receive an answer within a day, but it was clear, detailed and answered my concerns. And then, within another day or so, I received quite long and detailed responses from a couple of the tutors.
I was impressed enough to choose Manchester.
It took me a few more days to actually accept the offer. Last minute doubts about my own academic abilities, and whether I really wanted to undertake further study - especially as a distant student. You see, my last experience with post-graduate study, which was also distance, was less that satisfactory. The learning materials and teaching methods were just mountains of PDFs sent to me on a weekly basis, with little interaction or comment from the tutors.
But what the heck. I figure a course in digital education should be able to digitally deliver an interesting programme. I'll let you know how that pans out.