A new and faster way to earn a postgraduate degree

  • Dr Nicholas Patterson words by Sophie Lanyon
  • 13 February 2018

DeakinCo. interviewed the course director, Dr Nicholas Patterson, about the course and why the Master of Professional Practice (IT) is a great alternative to traditional qualifications for experienced IT professionals.

Why is the Master of Professional Practice (IT) a great alternative for those seeking a master’s degree in IT?

What I see as the main benefit is really a two-pronged benefit. First, this degree really accelerates the time it takes to complete a master’s degree in IT by utilising your past work experience, especially through leadership on IT projects. The other benefit is that you get this great set of micro-credentials, including both employability skills and IT-specific micro-credentials (or, as I like to call them, ‘badges’).  So, in the end, you are studying just three study units and then working to obtain 10 micro-credentials,   which is drastically better for your work/life/study balance than a traditional degree.

Your traditional master's degree in IT, while still good, takes a long time to complete, and you have to study extensively—usually full time. So, it’s very hard to juggle your work at the same time. That and you don't get the micro-credentials in the end, which means missing the chance to boost your career opportunities.

Lastly, IT spans many different industries. You don't necessarily need to be a programmer to take advantage of this degree. You could be working on a diverse set of technology-relevant projects for a hospital or in the automotive industry.


Who is the course designed for?

In my opinion, the course is designed primarily for a busy IT professional who is looking to boost their career and qualifications by obtaining a master’s degree as well as proven credit for their skills like teamwork or communication.

So, it is for those who have had a decent amount of experience in IT or an equivalent industry. They have worked on and led a decent number of projects in the different workplaces they have been in.

As we are not teaching heavy IT knowledge, the course is also very well-suited to a diverse range of people in the tech industry. This likely relates to why we actually have more women currently enrolled than men—a good sign that we can help to boost more IT master’s-qualified women in the industry.


What is the value of the Professional Practice credentials in this course?

The Professional Practice credentials really are that added benefit that means you can say, ‘I have been proven to have a certain workplace skill’, like communication or innovation. This can be particularly crucial in the IT industry, which is often very focused on devices and objects and probably less social than other industries—so those professional skills might be less obvious to a manager. Once an employee obtains one or all of the Professional Practice credentials, it can open new opportunities for that person where their manager might think to utilise them on bigger projects now that they are proven to be a capable innovator.


You’ve earned your own Professional Practice credentials. What micro-credentials did you earn, and how did you find the micro-credentialling process?

I believe in them so much that I am driving towards getting the whole set. So far, I have Professional Practice credentials in Teamwork, Communication, Critical thinking, Problem solving, Innovation and Data analytics.

The micro-credentialling process I found to be very fluid—there are only a few steps, and it’s not hard to understand at all. The online system that is used is very modern and user-friendly. The hardest part, really, is hunting around for workplace evidence to match the criteria for that micro-credential.


Tell us a little about the first two-week unit on the FutureLearn platform, Becoming Career Smart, and how it sets people up for the Master of Professional Practice (IT) and the Professional Practice credentials?

This free open course is used primarily to introduce the Master of Professional Practice (IT) and Professional Practice credentials to the world. However, I have added many different helpful resources to help give your career a boost, such as a series of skills audit tools and how to develop your own elevator pitch to showcase your capabilities.

I have designed the unit for a very broad audience because, as I mentioned, IT spans many different industries—so we have seen a whole range of different people come through in the first run.

Those doing this free open course will get to know me the course director, find out all about the structure of the degree and what to expect, and learn what Professional Practice credentials are. The unit gives you enough detail to know the ins and outs of signing up for the full degree.


Why should a professional considering postgraduate study choose the Master of Professional Practice (IT)?

I have and would recommend to anyone in the IT industry or another industry in which they work on a lot of technology projects to considering enrolling in the Master of Professional Practice (IT). Why? First, because if you are yet to obtain a master’s degree, this can help you work towards that goal in an accelerated time frame without having to sit in lectures and workshops all day every day. Second, for your growth as a professional—if you can prove your advanced professional skills in any of the Professional Practice credentials, this will help to boost your future career prospects. If you are applying for a new job, for example, the employer does not have to guess whether you are good communicator or team player—you will have proof.


Do you have anything further to add on the course?

Degrees such as this are really the future direction of education. Deakin University is trying to get the word out there about the benefits and features of things like the Professional Practice credentials. Once the public gets the gist of what is involved and the benefits, this degree will be one of the most popular, I believe—at least for professionals.

The whole degree is now available on the FutureLearn platform, which is very suitable for professionals on the go. It has short snappy articles, short video clips, can be viewed on mobile/tablet and takes a social learning approach.