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How to e-learn anytime, anywhere and any old how

Out of choice, though with a professional interest I am successfully taking my fifth and final module of a Masters Degree entirely (almost) using an iPad and iPhone.

It has transformed how I learn – so different to how I started this particular journey two years ago and a world away from a distance learning course I did a decade ago. I used to print off – now I never do. The printer and scanner are redundant, ink cartridges and paper too.

Everything is online, the entire course is e-learning. No box of books and DVDs.

The iPad – and I use a Kindle for some texts if I am reading outdoors – is a university in my pocket.

I very rarely make use of my wife’s laptop or my son’s desktop – all I have is the iPad. Posting assignments requires a compatible mode Word doc and either a Flas or other drop-down menu functionality that the iPad can’t manage.

I work in the dead of night and the eye-pad winks open to become a torch to guide me through the house.

I download texts and on extended walks on the South Downs here in England I stop to read – taking notes, and posting thoughts to a blog that is part e-portfolio when I have a signal. I read in the bath until the water gets cold or my wife complains. If no one is up, like a touchscreen table-mat the tablet sits infron of a bowl of porridge and mug of black coffee.

The Open Univeristy VLE operates across all the various platforms seemlessly – public transport is now a place to study too – a bus never a place for a laptop is a great place to catch up with a unit. If it isn’t raining I will read and make notes, iPad in my right hand, navigating and typing with the left. On a busy tube switch to the iPhone and keep reading in landscape mode (the books are synched up) and vicariously grab relevant images that inevitably catch my eye.

It fits in across the day, micro-moments can be exploited and just like a good novel you can’t put down I don’t have to put it down. There’s less need to block off periods of the day to study (though still required from time to time). All tutor forums are on an RSS feed so I can read a post coming in from anywhere around the world so feel I am part of that conversation – currently the students on this module are as global as they can be: UK, South Africa, India, Far East, New Zealand and Canada … and other continental European countries.

The world has moved on, yet it feels like the most natural thing in the world to engage with likeminds in this way – we could be postgrads on campus in an Ivy League or Oxbridge College, or fellow volunteers at the swimming or sailing club, or friends wandering a gallery or museum.

It is bizarre, it is a learning bazar.

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