We sat down with Elena Mazzolini, a senior veterinarian in northern Italy. Elena took the Project Management MicroMasters® program from RITx, and used the knowledge that she learned to improve her performance at her job and improve her project management skills.
What program did you take on edX, and what were your goals in taking it?
I took several edX courses (mostly on data analysis) and the Project Management MicroMasters® program from RIT since 2013 when I first enrolled in edX.
How has the program helped you?
I am a senior veterinarian working in public health. As such, I have to manage many different types of projects: from typical research projects to less structured projects. Of course you do learn these skills on the job and from your previous education, but the MicroMasters program allowed me to fill many gaps of knowledge and to contextualize experiences I had acquired myself. I feel more comfortable now when I start a project.
What did you like most about learning online?
Studying online allows me to choose from the best universities a wider offering of course subjects. I did my MSc in epidemiology many years ago at the LSHTM, which was education of high value, but expensive and greatly impacted my family. I believe that MOOC education will not replace traditional education, but it provides more education pathways. It is much less expensive to take MOOCs for I do not have travel and incur expenses, and I can dedicate more resources towards choosing the best course for me. Even though I’ve watched fantastic recorded lectures from in-person classes I think the best courses are those that are planned to be MOOCs since the beginning, so they have good videos, smart questions, and fine-tuned exams. Good MOOCs need resources so I am more keen to spend for them if I can save from traveling and living expenses costs.
On top of this I have to say that it is the time saving and the possibility to follow lectures and study when I have free time from work and personal needs that makes the difference. I personally can concentrate better and get more out of an online course than a face-to-face course for I am prone to be distracted by what’s going on around me when I am with other people. Of course I lose the advantages of the direct contact with the students yet there have been discussion forums in some edX courses I took where I felt like a real classmate of students disseminated all over the world, which was a unique experience.
Did your coursework result in any direct outcomes (career or personal)?
Where I live online certifications are less applicable for careers in the public sector, but I know they are very valuable in the private sector. For instance, my son, a newly graduated civil engineer, after seeing my enthusiasm has taken many edX courses that integrated his formal education and I know they were appreciated by interviewers. By the way he was recruited 10 days after graduation, I suspect that edX helped too.
What advice would you give new edX learners?
I learned quite a lot from edX. I feel up to date and I have a broader knowledge of certain topics, all of which helps in career, especially when working with junior colleagues. You can be wise and updated, so to get the best from your fellows. This is my suggestion to new edX students.