With the holidays approaching, this may seem like bad advice. There are already plenty of distractions to be had: office parties; family dinners; shopping, another rerun of Love Actually. But if you’re a social person, this time of year is probably particularly tough for your motivation: who wouldn’t prefer to sit in front of a fire with some friends, eggnog in hand, over the company of a textbook?
I was sitting at my own computer the other day, procrastinating by reading random things on the net, and came across a story from Wired about education. It was about a conference on how digital technology can inspire school reform, but what the writer took away from it was that no amount of YouTube lectures or tablets or videogames in the classroom will make a lick of difference because kids want to be cool – and it’s cool to rebel. So until the “geeky” kids become cool, and find it fun to discuss equations and metaphors and earn As, schools will remain untransformed.
Now, this article was about secondary schools, not universities. At most postsecondary campuses, I’d say it’s cool to be a little geeky. (It just seems silly to rebel against something you’re paying for.) But the principle, I think, still applies – the people around us can have a major affect on our outlook. So if your coursework becomes a more social endeavour, especially during the holidays, it may help keep your engagement high.
Here my thoughts on where you can start:
Consider an Online Course. If you typically enrol in print-based or web-based courses through Open Learning, you may want to try an online course instead. An online course typically involves more interaction with other students: you can chat in online groups, perhaps meet a study buddy and hear other opinions on the material that may make you think about it in a new way.
Join a LinkedIn Group. If you haven’t been to LinkedIn in awhile, it’s worth taking a look. The site has become far more lively than it was years ago, and you’ll likely be able to find several groups related to the subject you’re studying (some groups you can join automatically; others require permission from the group administrator, which may take a day or so). To find your next social group, search by keyword and narrow the search range to “Group” in the drop-down menu. For example, I started out searching for business, and came across a group called the Project Manager Network, which had an active discussion going about how a PM can handle a project that is handed to them in the red.
Join us on Facebook. There are two main Facebook sites you should check out for TRU-OL: one is a page and the second is a group. People often go to our page to talk about general topics, and to the group to find people who are taking the same courses.
Where do you go to spend some time with other students?
DISCLAIMER: At TRU-OL, we recommend that students set aside 10 to 15 hours per course, each week, to study. We aren’t suggesting you count course networking as part of those hours. Think of it as a supplement to your course material, not replacement.