If you are doing one of the Criminology subjects by Distance Learning- I am doing Criminology and Criminal Justice – you gather,with fellow students, at the Study School in Leicester twice per year.
Aside from being the place to discuss academic topics and attend lectures and visits, it is the place to meet your fellow students: What a mixed bunch! Interesting and professionally varied, the students themselves are a learning experience. At the last Study School, around our dinner table were: people involved with UN security; others working directly for security companies overseas; police officers and academics like myself. The conversation was lively and enlightening. Business cards were swapped as were ideas and job prospects. It was a melting pot of criminology and security professionals.
Another useful learning characteristic was the ability to understand how others were tackling the course. As a Distance Learner, aside from being connected to others via the Blackboard system, you don’t get to informally chat that much. It’s amazing how much that you can learn ‘at the periphery’ of the formal teaching. I met a German guy who had achieved a PhD and got some good advice. I learned about updated police approaches and experience. But most importantly perhaps, I learned that the mistakes made and lessons learned regarding the course were similar across the group. In other words, we were making similar errors. When you mainly work alone it can be easy to believe that you are the only one making these stupid mistakes. Generally though, you are not alone. Experiences shared make you feel closer to others. Shared successes can give you guidance as to your approach regarding the next assignment.
The social side cannot be ignored either: The bonhomie is welcomed after a days’ work. The craic is good! Having such a global, professional mix around one dinner table in Leicester is an unusual but informative experience. Roll-on the next Study School!