It’s been around 5 months since I started my degree, and what a time it has been! (Laughs maniacally, cries a little bit).
Seriously, what did I tell you in my last blog? Go read it if you haven’t, but didn’t I tell you my life is nothing but hectic, didn’t I?! I knew things would be tough, but I didn’t foresee a pandemic to be thrown in the mix. As usual, things always go a little bit mental when I start something. But never mind! If we don’t go through upset and discord then how do we grow and learn? I know, like most do, that this too shall pass so what’s more to say and do except for roll up our sleeves and move forward.
And roll up my sleeves up, I have. I’ve just submitted my second assignment and completed 10 different projects. Past Becky was a bit naive and thought this would be a piece of cake. Ah my sweet summer past Becky, how wrong you were. I have learned an incredible amount since I’ve started my online degree. I thought that in my line of work, I would somehow have the magic key that would give me a head start. It didn’t. Like everyone else that studies entirely online I’ve learned the hard way that it is my responsibility to set myself time aside to do things, to get feedback from my peers, friends and family, and to go outside of my comfort zone and experiment and try again. The learning journey is indeed that, a journey, and for this degree, in particular, it’s not about creating the best art, but to show the process. Asking questions like how did I get here? Who is my audience? Will they understand this symbolism? Could I try a different texture here?
Just like the pandemic is teaching us different things about ourselves, and the importance of community, this degree has taught me a lot. Here’s what I’ve learned so far.
Setting aside study time – I’m currently lucky enough to work from home at my desk, and as soon as the clock ticks over 17:15 pm I can get started on studying. I’m really good at it now, but the discipline I’m now practising has been learned…the hard way..as usual. It is so, so important to do this. I like to use Trello and my Google calendar to organise myself.
Finding a quiet place to study – At the beginning of lockdown I was working at my dining table. This got really distracting in the evening (three words, Midsomer Murders repeats). So eventually I commandeered my husband’s desk and got into a far better routine, with no distractions. I’ve also started taking myself out with my iPad on a free, sunny day, studying outside in the sun with a coffee. I’ve found it very freeing and I get so much more done!
Reflect, reflect, REFLECT! – It’s so easy to get wrapped up in something you can get lost in the initial brief and go off tangent. Getting constant feedback from your peers, and stepping back from your project is so important and refocuses what you are doing. To get constructive criticism for your peers and tutors is never a negative thing, it’s all part of the process. It’s also important to be able to show your tutors how you got to your final piece. Showing them a final product is almost useless if they have no clue as to how you got there in the first place!
Communication – Online learning can be a lonely place since you have no bricks and mortar campus to connect with others. I’ve been making the most of the forums, Zoom sessions and Discord channels to communicate. I’ve already made lots of friends and we regularly meet up online to play Drawful! I would have certainly struggled if I hadn’t had these places to chat or share ideas.
So what about the OCA itself? Has it given me food for thought on how we as a university can deliver our online learning better….well, it has and it hasn’t. To be blunt, I had expected an institution associated with a TEF Gold university to be leaps and bounds ahead of us when it comes to online delivery. Well, they are not, in fact, they are only really starting to blossom, in my opinion, along with so many other institutions. What has really stood out is how the student body has found many innovative ways itself to up the ante with communications, but I can see so many things that the OCA can do better with their VLE and that’s why you are now looking at the newly elected student representative in TEL and IT for the OCA Student Association. Because, you know, I don’t have enough to do. But seriously, I really think I can help make a difference working with their TEL team and the student body. I’ll update you all on what has happened with that in my next blog.
I definitely do not regret my decision to study online. My little brain may be working overtime, but I’m enjoying it immensely. I keep seeing lately that there is no wrong path, and it’s so true, so if you’re putting off taking something on like this then do it!
Until next time, stay safe!
Credit Image: Becky Holman – Southsea Seafront