Saint Joseph's University

How Peer Collaboration Enriches Earning an Online Master’s

When I first began my online graduate program, I was surprised to learn just how much diversity existed among my classmate’s backgrounds.

Being outside of the stereotypical human resources job function, I was concerned that I wouldn’t be able to relate to the coursework – or to my fellow students. It turns out my fears were totally unfounded and my concerns couldn’t have been further from the truth. My graduate program actually includes instructors, executives, healthcare professionals, consultants, police officers, social advocates, and nearly every role in between. It’s astonishing to see how everyone brings their own experiences into the classroom and how much more enriched the learning is as a result of this diversity.

In a virtual format, it can be easy to start to feel isolated from other students, but that is not the case with the Saint Joseph’s program. You do not have to learn in a vacuum! There are so many fascinating perspectives and discussions that you can easily tap into. The classes are formed in such a way that you are encouraged to engage one another in order to excel.

Partnering in Studies

Learning in the Master’s in Organizational Development and Leadership (MODL) program comes from your peer interactions just as much as it does from the texts and instructors. Make connections on and offline. We as students can shape our learning experience from start to finish. Partner with a study buddy throughout a course. Look at each new class as another opportunity to collaborate. Sometimes, you’ll forge a bond with one person in particular, and you can even look to continue through the next class. However, partnerships may change from one class to the next. Other times, it may make more sense to extend your network and pool ideas among a larger community.

If nothing else, this is the type of study focus and educational environment where there exists a common interest in teamwork.

Value of Collaboration

The further you advance with your studies, the more you learn to embrace the practical experiences that others bring to the table. The SJU program teaches you how to optimize collaborative skills in the classroom – and in the workplace. Each class has a component where you are prompted to work with one another to complete your projects. It is the perfect opportunity to turn theory into action.

I have had the chance to draw on my own experience, be introspective, and allow my knowledge to make me a better member in our study group. I have asked myself: How do I learn best? How do I prefer to communicate with a deadline looming? What strengths or weaknesses do I bring to a particular project?

In as much as school is about “achieving a grade,” I’ve found that the SJU MODL program structure teaches you the value of collaboration. At its core, I have come to believe learning how to better work with one another is what the study of organizational development is all about.

About the Author

Carla Thomas

Carla Thomas is a human capital management professional for a global advisory firm. Her background includes organizational transformation, global compensation, executive coaching, leadership, and talent development for Fortune 500 companies.

Grad Year: 2016
Program: MS in Organizational Development and Leadership

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