Ray Hare

Student spotlight details

Following a rugby accident, Ray Hare was rendered a quadriplegic and unable to continue his career as a History teacher. Since then he has been taking online courses, allowing him to work on something himself without the help of anyone else. He now uses his mouth and an iPad to complete the courses.

'I had a rugby union accident which unfortunately rendered me a quadriplegic and put me in a wheelchair. As such, I was unable to continue my career as a high school history teacher.

'Over time, as the technology became available - i.e. the iPhone (I have upgraded to the iPad now!) allowed me easy access to the Internet - I was able to pursue my love of history from my home through online courses, which is so convenient considering my condition. I don’t have to get ready two hours earlier before I go, as I would if I had to attend class, I don’t have to get into my wheelchair, I don’t have to organise transport, and I can do it all by myself without someone with me. That’s the beauty of online courses, and why I started doing them. I am also enrolled on the Certificate of Higher Education – working towards an undergraduate award through online courses.

'I chose Oxford University because quite simply it is the best learning institution in the world. As such, with a reputation like that, I was certain that the online courses would be of a high quality, and I was not disappointed. I have looked at, but not participated in, other online courses – Cambridge and some US and Australian universities – but they did not seem as accessible and of the same quality as Oxford.

'I enjoy the connectivity of the online classes, and my ability to be in the classroom with students from around the world. To date, from what I remember, my fellow students have been from India, United States, Singapore, Japan, United Kingdom, and countless other countries.

'Both the students and tutors have been great. How one interacts with the other students and the tutor is quite simple. There are forums with students to participate in group activities, which involves questions, answers, and engaging in conversation with students and with the tutor. The tutor will also provide guidance and see students on track to the right answers. It is here that you learn a great deal, particularly from students and their insightful answers. Additionally, it provides a help network for students struggling with the work, as they are free to ask questions and raise any concerns. Everyone is so friendly and helpful, after all, we are all here to learn. At its best it so rewarding.

'Participating in Oxford online courses from the other side of the world (Australia) has inhibited me in no way, if anything it makes it a tad more exciting. I quite enjoy waking up and seeing if either the tutor or fellow students have interacted with my posts. It is just as enjoyable reading their other posts. The structure of the course and the way it is presented allows for these differences in time zones, as a result, if you have an internet connection you can participate.

'Two courses that I really enjoyed was The First World War in Perspective with Carl Webb, and Investing the Elizabethans with Janet Dickinson. They were both excellent tutors and the students were very willing participants which made the forums a delight to read and learn from. Importantly the subject matter was fascinating.

'The times I study revolve around my condition. As such after my personal care is completed in the morning I begin studying for two hours. I then get transferred to my standing frame on which I do another three hours of study. I do a few more hours than recommended because it takes me a while to type things down and to look things up using just the needle from my mouth which I interact with my iPad.

'I am told that the oldest student on Oxford’s short courses this year (2020) is 98 years old. As far as I’m concerned with great experience comes great knowledge. The professions people have pursued during their lifetime sometimes comes up in our online discussion and gives an insight into certain topics that the course examines. 

'To anyone considering taking an online course, I’d say do not be daunted by any fears of technology, as the courses are easily navigated. It begins by simply logging on, clicking onto the relevant course you are doing. The entire course is laid out for you and easy to access. It is divided into 10-week modules which students progressively move through with guidance from the tutor. It involves questions and discussion groups in the various forms. There are readings, bits from the recommended textbooks, and readings from the internet which are just a link and click away. If there are any technical problems, the tech department is available to help.

'Those who worry about the technology need to place aside their fears as it is extremely user friendly, and if any difficulties, help is just a click away.'

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