I have quite a wide experience of Distance Learning. I studied my undergraduate degrees with the Open University in the UK – a Distance Learning university. With this in mind, I wondered what the experience at Leicester would feel like. Living in Essex in the east of England I was concerned that I would feel distant from the campus and its activities and people. I’m not worried about studying from home, many now work from home these days. But I’m one of those students who gets encouragement by having some kind of tangible, physical interaction within my study experience. For me, interacting with people adds interest and stimulates thought. The online learning is well thought-out through a service called Blackboard which is widely used. But what about personal interactions?
I found that I felt closer to being at the Leicester campus through three experiences: books; visits and Study Schools. Every Module which I encountered as I navigate through the course is supplemented by some books and materials. My first thought of some of the books was “look at the size of those”. But as usage and confidence grows you learn how to use the books as tools so that they do not command you. Visits to the campus were an interesting, although unnecessary, learning experience. Visits on Open Days or personal visits can bring you closer, both physically and emotionally, to where the learning comes from. finally, Study Schools. In my curriculum there are three Schools over the two years of study. A rewarding experience to meet fellow students and discuss materials, assignments and the world in general. These people have a wide range of experience and dinner conversations reveal much. The Study Schools are also a chance to meet with tutors and administrators. I can honestly state that I have not met an unhelpful or even an unfriendly one yet. Whether through lectures or social mixing they are encouraging and helpful. You can also put a face to a name. Not everyone can attend Study Schools. But if you can please do so. The richness of the experience of online learning, the books and the visits/Study Schools all enhance learning. College Court (see attached artists impression) is where the Study Schools are held for Criminology and Security courses. It feels like a well-run hotel.