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OU post grad in online education gains prestigious fellowship

Image of Jennie Lee Building at The Open University Campus

Congratulations to Stephanie Akinwoya, graduate of IET’s Masters in Online and Distance Education (MAODE), who has been successful in gaining a prestigious Atlantic Fellowship for Social and Economic Equity.

Stephanie, based in Nigeria, studied for the postgraduate qualification at the OU’s Institute of Educational Technology between 2019-2021, funded by a Commonwealth Distance Learning Scholarship, and has since taken significant strides forward by gaining a respected Atlantic Fellowship, contributing to a community of Fellows focused on tackling persistent global inequities.

Commenting on being awarded the Fellowship for Social and Economic Equity, Stephanie shared:

"It feels amazing to be selected for this prestigious fellowship. I am deeply grateful for this opportunity as it will give me the necessary leverage that I need to address the challenge of inequity in the education space in my country in terms of providing the resources, expertise and network I need to further pursue my research in mobile learning as a means of providing access to education for students in IDP [Internally displaced person] camps."

The appointment comes after Stephanie graduated with the OU’s Masters in Online and Distance Education and joined a global network of alumni who share a responsibility for implementing online and distance learning across sectors, contexts, and nations. The Masters in Online and Distance Education programme is soon to be replaced by a new Masters in Online Teaching which, together with IET’s suite of credit-bearing postgraduate microcredentials, offers students a unique opportunity to study leading contemporary theory and practice across the field of online and distance education, and technology-enhanced learning.

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IET has long led pedagogical development in digital learning and teaching, building a history of exploring innovative ways to drive developments in education and educational technologies. These developments feed into university practice at the OU and showcase our expertise to educational institutions globally, informing innovation worldwide.

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Dr Leigh-Anne Perryman, IET’s Associate Director for Curriculum, commented on Stephanie’s achievement in gaining the fellowship: "We are very proud of her and are humbled by her achievements. Stephanie has taken the skills she has gained from the MAODE and has applied them in Nigeria to increase educational equity for people typically excluded from education". 

Reflecting on how studying online and distance educational practice at the OU has supported her journey, Stephanie shared:

"As I look back I can confidently say that my studies for IET's Masters in Online and Distance Education have shaped me into the educator that I am today, every milestone, every achievement so far is tied to the knowledge acquired in one of my offered courses, most especially from my TMA [tutor-marked assignment] and EMA [end-of-module assessment], even my teaching methodology changed as a result of learning acquired in my Master's course."

While studying with the OU, Stephanie's research explored the displacement of people and challenges to educational access in Africa. Building on her experiences and prior research, Stephanie investigated how displacement can challenge access to education. Speaking about these challenges in the context of Africa, Stephanie commented: 

"Insurgency, terrorism, religious conflict, as well as natural disasters brought about by climatic change, are some of the causes of displacement."

Adding further, commenting on how mobile technology can address access-related barriers to learning, Stephanie explained: 

"With the mobile evolution in Africa, mobile technology can be used for instruction and learning to provide access to education for students in IDP [Internally displaced people] camps as it enables the delivery of knowledge anytime and anywhere."

Image of Stephanie Akinwoya
Stephanie, pictured above, completed her Master's in Online and Distance Education from The Open University in 2021, while developing a passion for education, gender, migration and refugee rights.

Further steps towards improving educational outcomes

Stephanie's commitment to research and scholarship in learning and teaching extends to her support of fellow OU students, and she features in video and case study content within IET’s suite of innovative microcredential courses, including the IET-led microcredential, Online Teaching: Embedding Social, Race and Gender-Related Equity.

Discussing the value of her research and scholarship contributing to fellow learners’ experiences in education, Stephanie detailed: 

"I feel so elated and honoured. I have read and studied other people's work, and to know that other students will also be reading and reviewing my scholarly work is deeply humbling. I am also happy for the diversity that my work will bring to the course, as that was something I longed for during my master's course, as most of the content was based on the global south."

Looking towards the future, and the future impact intended for her research to bring, Stephanie closed:

"So far, I have been able to create awareness and start the creation of the learning platform to be used. I intend to partner with award-winning teachers to create culturally appropriate educational content in line with the national curriculum. and partner with international bodies to deploy mobile learning in two IDP camps in Nigeria."

Congratulations Stephanie! To find out more about the courses available to study in IET, visit our course offering here.