My twelve years and more studying with the OU has seen how I learn shift.
The current twist is looping back to the less distracted days of being ‘off line’. At the same time I have done a couple of things that are very old school:
1) A ‘Room of my own’ without internet access (my choice) .. down the road with an opt in/ opt out. Also an ‘office’ (I recently bought the domain name Mindbursts.com.
2) Pen and paper … and by that I mean a fountain pen with ink cartridges and a pad of lined paper – not quite an exercise book, but close.
1) I am easily distracted. Studying with the Internet 24/7 it is too tempting to be checking email, responding to forum messages or just browsing, I miss linking to books and journals I read about, but these can wait. Maybe the impulse to purchase or read another book will reduce by the time I get to consider it in the wee hours back at home. My ‘room’ is ten miles down the road.
2) Partially this is physiological – I am seeing a physio trying to untangle or unknot some hideous pain in my left elbow which I ascribe to typing up blog entries with my left hand while reclined on the sofa or in bed. Partially it is knowing that there is never a short cut to learning and knowing a subject. I truly believe that mixed methods work – that it helps to take the written word and write it out, and type it out, and talk about it and visualise it. Neurologists will confirm that memory formation requires the binding of activity across the brain, rather than from just one part of it.
Meanwhile, I look forward to another e-learning module, H818, with trepidation:
1) I need to demonstrate to myself that I can keep up and even improve on the standard I’m now able to attain. (Time and effort and the only two words to think about).
2) I will be running in tandem with another module, taught old-school, at a different university, simultaneously. Already I dread the commute to a monthly day-long tutorial that I can only do by train if I am on a train at 5.20am. It’ll make for a very interesting comparison. If the OU offered the module I want to study I would have done it – they don’t. This surprises me given the Open Learn work they are doing on the First World War with the Imperial War Museum.
Best wishes to all … so much for thinking I’d finished with this. Next up I’m applying to the OU to do a PhD so I might be around for a while longer yet.
I started an early e-learning module H808 in 2001 … skipped off the final paper and came back to it all decade later. I have both books and papers from that period which make for amusing reading.
Oliver Thomas commented
You appear to have dedicated your life to learning so I doubt seriously that you could stop even if you knew how (that’s meant kindly). Your attitude to life may well see you reach a ripe old age as I wager your mental acuities will be in tiptop condition long after a long-suffering elbow gives up the ghost. The distal study room is a fascinating idea (less so the early starts on the train, but needs must and if the devil can lay on a carriage, so be it).
Good luck on your latest endeavours!
To which I replied
Thanks Oliver ,,, yes, certainly a ‘Life Long Learner’ though only recently with any pretence to climbing an academic ladder. I have an insatiable desire to understand ‘why?’ and ‘How?’ My big why at the moment is ‘The First World War’. THe big how is, how to give 123 million people a university or tertiary education where only 5 million campus places exist in the world. The OU handles 275,000 … that leaves, well, a lot.
And he commented further:
I just looked at Wikipedia to see how my old bricks & mortar uni in Nottingham stacks up against the OU; the student populus is under 35,000. You see that a virtual learning establishment like the OU can therefore cover roughly 12 times that amount. If all universities were the same, there would still be a shortfall of 65 million places (12x the 5 million campus places; a lot of assumptions in this mathematics). It will be very interesting to see how education is meted out in future. There are obvious pros and cons with both setups, but one thing seems for sure, the internet as a medium for learning is not going away (in the same way as it has revolutionised many industries in recent years). Universities will have to adapt if they are to be competitive. There is a place for both, undoubtedly.