When Griffith University launched an accelerated online Master of Financial Planning just over 12 months ago, career professionals were immediately drawn to its flexible fast-track options.

Now students are also revealing the rewards of an intense and personalised learning experience that has been enriched by the online tools at work.

“We’re giving constant and immediate feedback to students and they’re responding rapidly using multiple online channels like Yammer and our Blackboard discussions,” Kirsten MacDonald, Program Director, Master of Financial Planning, says.

“From the lecturer’s point of view, we get to take on board useful new information about what students want and need during their studies, and the directions they want to take. We’re able to effectively personalise the delivery of the program as a result.”

As part of the Master of Financial Planning, Kirsten MacDonald recently taught a 6-week course in personal risk management to an online class of about 40 students, many with a financial services background but also including professionals from entirely different industries.

“We already know how much students value lecturers who engage with them and are there to help and answer their questions, and we know that disengaged students make for a poor learning experience for students and a poor teaching experience for lecturers.

Enhanced access to expertise

“With this online program, we have built on that knowledge, using online tools to move it up a notch.

“Students are going beyond the surface levels of learning to deeper levels largely through an enhanced access to the expertise of the lecturer.”

Kirsten MacDonald, who researches financial education at Griffith Business School, also highlights how students are learning from each other.

“No longer does the lecturer talk at the students in the traditional way; now it is much more about group learning where professionals from different walks of life are exchanging knowledge and experiences and offering their takes on the problems and challenges that come up during discussion.

“This completely dispels ideas about online learning being a lonely experience, and that’s definitely been part of the feedback we’ve got from the students. Their perceptions of what they were going to get before they enrolled was immensely different to their online experiences.

“I’ve had feedback from them saying ‘I had no idea an online course could be so interactive. It’s a new learning experience’.”