Hi readers of the blog!
I hope this post finds you all well and not too glum in what is a rather mild November.
I felt I should do an update on how I’ve gotten on with the course so far. So in no particular order, here are some things that I have learned 8 weeks in:
First off, that projected plan of a certain number of hours on certain days and certain times? Not really been happening. I actually felt that making myself do that amount of time on certain days was quite pressuring for someone who works full time (sometimes I just want to come home and have a cup of tea and do nothing). So instead I am judging it day to day, but trying to spend more time on the course on less impactful days – by that I mean I won’t go crazy on course stuff if I have to do a driving lesson the next day, as this does not agree with me. I do tend to do more focused time on the weekends.
I have pre-booked days off to coincide with deadlines, or rather organising my time off so I can have the best chance of finishing assignments a bit earlier than the due date. I am hoping this will work out!
Teamwork is frustrating in any and all versions of studying. I have had a bit of experience of team working over a distance course now and it is a real challenge. You might be separated by continents and time zones, but regardless of where you are, only interacting digitally makes it difficult to keep up with team mates. I think that at this point in the course, it is easier to progress by myself. If there is compulsory team work at some later point, I am hoping we get some guidance on how is best to manage this.
Course content and activities
I am enjoying watching recorded lectures each week and supplementing this with the written notes. Weekly activities are designed to help us digest the information, and I’ve really enjoyed some of these. Use of the forums is still a bit of a challenge for me, as it doesn’t feel possible to create the serendipitous discussions that one can in person. I think that this is just a facet of the course being online, though, and somewhat has to be accepted and dealt with as well as possible.
My feelings about working on the assignments for this course have been quite up and down – some days I feel great about what I am writing, and others I feel the work is total pants. I know that this is normal, but it’s still hard to take the ups and downs. I only have one assignment per module, which I find much more manageable. The deadlines are well placed too (one before Christmas and one in early January) which, even though it means a holiday of doing some work, it isn’t overwhelming. I have had to give up doing as many hobbies because I just don’t have the energy. Now that I have done that, I hope I will feel more balanced.
I am very impressed that both my assignments have real-world applications: either directly or indicatively. My first, the information enquiry assessment, is an enquiry for a real person! We share our findings with them afterwards, as well as writing a report-style document that shows our searching techniques and appraisal of information credibility. I feel much better about conducting this search for a real person, rather than creating a fictitious scenario. The second, a faceted classification system, was really brought to life this week with a guest lecture from a previous student who has built this type of system for a real organisation. It showed the potential and real-time application of the skills we are learning, and I was very impressed by this.
I have to say that report writing is not my forte – as an arts researcher, I want to write ‘I’ and form arguments, but here I can’t do that. I do think it’s good to be challenged, though, and I can already see that writing in this format is making me rethink my sometimes florid prose.
I have realised that it is still very important for me as a researcher, to still keep my research interests ticking over. Whilst this is a challenge, I am still looking at how I will adapt my PhD thesis into a book, because this is an important personal challenge for me. I don’t want to leave the music part of myself behind, and find I need to remind myself of this when I feel somewhat down.
Well that feels quite enough really. Have you recently started a course online or in person? How do you feel about it? I’d love to hear from others, especially if you are balancing a lot of things and how you manage to do that!