Through OUA’s blog, you may have been introduced to a few members of the Student Success team already, and become familiar with some of the pretty excellent things they can do for you as a student. While they’re busy doing what they do best, we’d like you to meet the woman behind this top team- OUA’s Manager of Student Success, Mona El-Ayoubi. Mona is always focused on the student, and what she and her team can do to ensure they keep on track and ultimately succeed in an online learning environment. Mona has a passion for ideas and has enjoyed a very interesting career in Australia and abroad, so we asked her to shed some light on her journey so far, and why her team is so valuable to students.
What is the Student Success team?
A degree is not any old piece of paper. For graduates, it represents achievement, surpassing fears and anxiety, and ultimately gaining the knowledge and skills they need to enter their chosen industry. Study doesn’t come without its challenges, and to help students succeed is the very purpose of the Student Success team. A great deal of their time is spent one-on-one with students over the phone or via email, talking through periods of confusion and self-doubt, and giving them the tools they need to push back into a state of clarity and confidence. When they’re not talking directly with students, they’re working hard to develop resources to help students with their learning, for example, webinars and resources to guide academic study.
Mona makes sure that her team is doing the best they can to make online learning as fluid, engaging and effective as possible. For 15 years, Mona has worked in online learning, and is incredibly familiar with the benefits and disadvantages of studying in a virtual space. She’s constantly thinking about innovative new ways to eliminate the difficulties of the medium and give students the best experience possible. Mona says that many OUA students are completely new to higher education (or haven’t been involved with it for a long time), so it’s a huge undertaking for them. Given the added stress of a learning environment that may be foreign to them, and their other responsibilities like work and family, Mona’s team is challenged everyday with finding innovative new ways to connect with these students.
Mona’s career so far
Looking back on her career, Mona can see the connection between her various jobs and how the path she’s chosen reflects back on her love for learning and innovation. She’s got a pretty impressive collection of qualifications; a bachelor of arts with a double major in sociology and history, a graduate diploma in adult education and a masters in indigenous knowledge systems and pedagogy. If this doesn’t sound exhausting enough, she’s now working on her doctorate, which examines quality in online learning. In her early days of study, Mona worked in a small cafe across the road from Melbourne Uni, where she encountered some very interesting characters- opening her eyes to the world outside her own. She started her career as an academic in social science, teaching sociology and indigenous knowledge systems. Her fascination for pedagogy soon carried over into the online world, where she got involved in online learning design. One of the most interesting of her roles was at an online university based in Dubai, where she lived and worked for over 4 years.
A bit about Mona
The Student Success team members often talk to students about how they can balance their study with their career and home life. We asked Mona the same question, and she admitted to being crazy about cooking. She cooks to keep her family healthy, but what she loves most about cooking is being able to put everything aside and get completely immersed in it. Her favourite cuisines to serve up are Italian and Lebanese; Italy being her favourite place in the world because of the food, art, history and language, and Lebanon being the country she hails from. Mona has travelled extensively and has covered almost every continent. She couldn’t live without sunshine to put a smile on her face, but having said that, she enjoys each season for what it is, rain or shine. She’s lived in the tropics and the desert, which are places of temperature extremes, so she’s enjoying living back in Australia where she can appreciate the fall of autumn leaves and the freshness of spring air.
Students who make the decision to study online are often driven by the need for flexibility, so while the virtual learning environment is a blessing in some ways, it’s very much a challenge in others. Luckily for OUA students, their learning experience lies in the hands of a very capable and enthusiastic student success manager, whose career has been based around building and managing online learning systems. Mona works with her team everyday to create a better, smoother and more engaging way to study online, so rather than worrying about technicalities, students can keep their eyes on the prize.