It has been a while since I last made a blog post – as usual, Murphy’s Law conspired against my best laid plans. Perhaps these are just the usual challenges of keeping abreast with study and other things learning related.
Speaking of learning from a distance, I can’t help but feel fortunate to have the opportunity to undertake the Leicester Distance Learning MBA despite a punitive work schedule and other socio-economic engagements. I wouldn’t trade it for the world. Yet I must admit that distance learning is but just one of the many means of acquiring a postgraduate qualification and that means paying keen attention to the learning materials and maintaining regular participation on the virtual learning environment (Blackboard) is the hardest yet most crucial part of studying, in addition to doing your homework and assignments.
In my own varied experience keep abreast and falling by the wayside (more often than not admittedly), I would propose that In order to be successful, any distance learning student will have to learn to avoid the day-to day distractions that crop up and conspire to derail study progress.
Additionally, a student must – I repeat, absolutely must – develop good distance learning study habits. The need to create a study regimen within an environment that is conducive to learning and the time and space to study and learn cannot be over-emphasized.
The basics of creating good distance learning study habits start with your physical surroundings. Your study space needs to be well-lit and ventilated and it also needs to be as free as possible from outside distractions like people, telephones, loud music and the greatest distraction of all, television.
For mature students who are parents, I’m pretty sure you wouldn’t let your kids do their homework in front of the television, so why do you think that you can learn while you are watching your favorite soap opera or reality show? All Eastenders fans in the room say ‘I’.
Create a special place in your home for your distance learning study program. It can be your kitchen if that is separate from the rest of your house. It can be your family or recreational room or a newly cleaned storage area like a former garage. It can also be your living room, as long as you turn off the television. As long as it is clean, uncluttered, and quiet it will work for you and give you the serenity you need to focus.
If you have enough room in your house or apartment then you might wish to consider purchasing a desk and organizing it so that you have everything you need near at hand and all in one place. Then find a good chair with strong support for your back as you listen and learn. It should be comfortable enough to study in, but not too comfortable that you want to take a nap. That comes after you have done your work. Organize all of your study supplies and reading or writing material around you. Then you are ready to get down to the serious business of study.
You also need to organize your time in order to develop good distance learning study habits. Set aside regular times to log on to Blackboard for your reading time. This is especially crucial because Leicester does not pre-schedule any lessons this is a plus because it allows each student the flexibility to plan for adequate time to study and complete assignments according to their own preferences and personal constraints.
Try as much as you can to stick to your established routine religiously unless an emergency happens and explain rather passionately especially your friends that you will be unavailable during this period of time. This will help those around you to be both empathetic and supportive to your study regimen.
If you follow these basic tips on how to create a distance learning program that fits your life and your schedule, you will find that you are well on the way to a productive and successful distance learning experience.
I by no means propose that I have mastered these tips but I keep working on eradicating the interruptions to my own study plan and at times find that I am lagging behind. Yet the most important thing is to keep focused on the goal: success!