11 Nov Time Management for Learners
I’m currently on one of Stanford University’s MOOC courses. It’s free, can be done completely online and is pretty flexible as to how you organise your study time. It only requires 4 hours per week but when you have a day job, a family and other interests beyond a computer screen that four hours can be hard to find. I’m never quite sure where I am. Am I up to date with the lectures and reading? Is there a conversation I need to respond to? Worst of all, is there an assignment that needs to be submitted? With the flexibility of online learning comes the discipline of keeping on top of it all but the Venture Lab learning environment does a reasonable job of providing a dashboard of upcoming activities. A friend of mine is also taking an online programme and she has the same problem. She is never quite sure where she is and what she has to and she is on a full blown 2 year MBA programme!
Most of the online learning I am involved in is of the bite sized variety but when programmes extend over a longer time period and include deadlines for assignments or other assessed activities it’s particularly helpful if the learning environment can help you to monitor and manage your learning.
There are two key elements here; progression and planning.
Progression charts your progress through the learning materials. In its simplest form it shows you what you have already done (watched, read, downloaded, submitted). Progression is important for tutors as well as learners. Progression is a really key aspect of online learning because of its flexible nature. One of the things I always look for in a new LMS is the way progression is measured. Some of the fancy new platforms like Treehouse use gamification techniques such as badges and levels both to monitor progression and encourage completion.
Where progression is about the past, planning is about the future. What have I got to do, when will I do it, what dates are critical? Planning is also key for tutors and in synchronous programmes tutors often drip feed learning activities as the course develops. Typically a new set of activities will be released each week. The Stanford MOOC adopts this approach though it’s not strictly linked to weeks. The most useful view for planning is a calendar with the various activities highlighted. Standford’s Venture Lab doesn’t use a calendar but its list of upcoming events works pretty well.