One term down, five to go

My first few weeks as a distance learner at Leicester have flown by, so with one term down and five to go, I feel that ought to let you know how I’ve been getting on.

In hindsight, the first two weeks of the course were probably the most stressful. As well as having to find my way around an unfamiliar virtual learning environment (VLE), we had a two week deadline to submit a 1,000 word essay for our early assignment. As I’ve observed elsewhere, 1,000 word essays are far more difficult for me to write than 2,000 word essays.

However, perhaps the most confusing (all right, downright irritating) of all the new things to get to grips with was the requirement to submit assignments twice, once to Turnitin and once by email, using identical file names but without the references section and header page for the Turnitin submission. The process (for which there are no less than 10 pages of documentation in the course manual) feels like an accident waiting to happen. Even though I was incredibly careful working my way through it, I still made a small error that was commented on in my tutor feedback form. Grrr. Helping organisations to sort out broken business processes is part of my day job, so I’d be happy to sort this one out for the university for a small fee …

Last weekend I finished my second assignment for the Research Methods Module. Completing it has definitely helped to blow away the remaining academic cobwebs. While I was very pleased with my mark on the early assignment, this one (broken into four parts covering quantitative and qualitative research methods) has been a whole order of magnitude more difficult and time-consuming. Everyone in my family, including Archie the house-rabbit, are probably as relieved as I am that it’s been safely submitted.

Archie - Alpha Bunny So with the next assignment not due until 10th February, I bet you might think that I’ll be taking it easy over the Christmas break. Unfortunately not! As an experienced distance learner, I’ve always found it absolutely essential to use this time of year to get ahead of the schedule, so that the inevitable issues that crop up in my working and home life don’t totally derail the study effort. For me, it’s the Personnel Selection and Assessment Module up next. I’m also trying to put some serious thought into what I will be choosing to do for my dissertation in 2014/15.

On the whole though, it’s been so far so good. I’m enjoying the course and I’m getting what I expected to get out of it – and more. But if you would like more information about the joys and woes of distance learning, fellow Leicester student Chris has also made some excellent observations about the marketing hype vs the reality of distance learning, so I’d encourage you to read his thoughts too.

Onwards and upwards!

This article was originally written for the University of Leicester Student Blogs, 11th December 2013.

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