Image: MSc Ergonomics student Alison Nicole SandemanAfter working as a Mathematics and PE Teacher in secondary schools across South London, Nicole was commissioned into the Royal Air Force (RAF) in 2003 as a Personnel Training Officer and still works there today as the lead for the defence training capability project, trainer development and franchising.

She divides her time between working in the RAF, being a networking marketing professional, running a successful business and volunteering. With such little free time, Nicole found online learning enabled her to further her education while still managing her commitments.

Why did you choose to study online?

Taking on the responsibility for studying in addition to having a very demanding job, a busy business and juggling volunteering – online learning seemed the most effective way to achieve this.

Online learning is a great way to progress your occupation because you can learn while on the job rather than taking a career break – which can enable you to progress further in a shorter space of time.

How has online learning helped you develop your career?

I am using what I learn in each module of my course in the specific context of training, assessment, coaching, mentoring and assurance, but it is also helping me to identify gaps in skills, resources and policy in a wider military context.

It is giving a better insight into a lot of the processes, procedures and ‘ways of thinking’ within the military, from an ergonomic slant.

What advice would you give to others considering studying for a degree online?

The tutors and online advisors at the University of Derby Online Learning (UDOL) understand that studying in this way can be a steep learning curve for a lot of people but they are fabulous. I would urge anyone to do it, make the commitment, and take responsibility. The hardest journey starts with a single step.

How would you sum up your experience of online learning with UDOL?

“Empowering.”