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Posted Oct. 4, 2013

University, Web Presence and Postgrad Study

Technology and education have always enjoyed a special relationship. From 1425 onwards, Gutenberg’s invention of the printing press was a key influence in raising living standards and promoting equality through an informed public. This year, the UK’s ESSA Academy reversed a 70 per cent failure rate, and the imminent risk of closure, to a 100 per cent pass rate by throwing out the books and giving each student an iPad and interactive assignments.

From smartphones to virtual lectures, skype interviews to online resources such as SkyDrive, Workflowy and PearlTrees, the digital landscape is one that encompasses all areas of our private and professional lives. A web presence established by a university, college, or student advisory service not only promotes efficiency and a good grasp of the technologies that students will be using throughout their working lives, but also provides invaluable resources for study and development.

A Friendly Face Immediacy, accessibility and a strong organisational narrative that lends postgraduates a sense of relationship with the institution they are studying in helps to foster a sense of security and identification with the institution. As a postgraduate, the last thing you want when you’re looking for vital information before a deadline, or need advice on financial support before a large payment, is to wade through switchboards and a cumbersome chain of command. A web presence closes the distance between the student and the institution.

Dialogue and Collaboration Forums can be an invaluable resource for postgrads looking for tips and those indispensible ‘life hacks’ that cover everything from loans to cheap meals. Keeping in the loop means that you’re made aware of part-time or summer jobs as they arise, or visiting lecturers and extra-curricular talks that might be happening in the city where you study.

News and events can be a lifeline for students juggling the demands of work, study and a social life.

Technology and devices aside, the internet itself is treasure trove of resources that can help with study. University Facebook pages thrive on the interaction generated by providing useful links to online journals, offline events and a range of services.

Trust and Flexibility Because postgraduate study is demanding of your time and rigorous in the standards of work you produce, you need to feel that the online resources you do use are trustworthy. An online presence established by the university or college you study at has that institution’s seal of approval, and you can feel confident that the information and advice you find there is legitimate and worth investing in.

Depending on the type of postgraduate study you’re engaged in, whether that be a classroom lead Master’s, a research degree or a PhD, you will often spend less time in the physical presence of the university and your mentors than you were accustomed to as an undergraduate.

This can be daunting , and you need to know that there is a mobile, round-the-clock means of accessing information and services. An online presence can facilitate this, and take some of the sting out a more self-direct study method.

Information technology is rapidly changing the way that people learn, study and work. From an increasing number of universities offering purely online degree courses, to electives taken with partner institutions in a digital environment, to MOOCs and virtual lecturers from leaders in any number of fields around the world, an online presence is now a necessity.

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