Thursday, January 9, 2014

Just for today

Developing additional blogs is fun experience, but a bit time consuming. Yesterday I posted and said that I had published a post for my ENN103F blog, which was not true then but it is now. It can be accessed by clicking on this link.


There is so much on my to-do list today and my allocated blogging time is up so I bid you readers a fond farewell until the next post. 


Wednesday, January 8, 2014

ANOTHER BLOG

I have finally got around to writing my first post for my ENN103F blog. Do not be fooled though, it does not mean I have been inactive as far as that subject goes. If you happen to be on Facebook or a member of any other social network you will understand how easy it is to get involved in all that happens on those platforms.
 
This year I have made a concerted effort to join various groups on Facebook that have been formed specifically for university students. One such group is the ENN103F and in a crazy fit of enthusiasm I volunteered to be an administrator of the group.  This is a wonderful opportunity to work on my diplomacy skills, which are sometimes sadly lacking.  As an admin of that group I have found that the vocal members are intent of moaning about the module or the way in which the faculty is handling the module and this has forced me to look at ways to try and keep the focus on the learning of the module without ruffling too many feathers. Every now and then I find that I have to sit back, away from the computer, and think about an answer to a query because I tend to get decidedly undiplomatic and long-winded.

This brings to mind a technique we used when facilitating and writing reports (at a past place of employment). Always keep in mind K.I.S.S; Keep It Simple Silly. Fortunately there are some established active groups that are willing to allow me to share links with the members of the ENN103F group, which is very time-saving and it keeps it simple. These links will assist them in getting the answers to the questions that are shifting their focus from the learning experience.  To enhance the learning experience and create enthusiasm I have created some ‘pictures’ that will hopefully be of benefit the members. It is these ideas that I will be sharing on the ENN103F blog.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

BEYOND THE PLANNING

Long distance study can be a very lonely and isolated experience but that need not be the case. There are several ways of overcoming the loneliness and isolation; all it requires is effort on the part of the student.

One factor that is particularly useful in reducing the sense of isolation and sustaining enthusiasm is gaining the support of family and friends. This can be an easy task if they are already supportive of you. In other instances it may be a difficult task, especially if they do not understand why you are studying. The best approach in this case is to explain why you are studying and how their support will enable the study process. The ideal situation would be to share what you are learning with family and friends as it reinforces what you learn, but if they have no knowledge of the subject, relevant feedback would be lacking. This is best overcome by connecting with fellow students.

In this electronic age of ours interaction with fellow students can take various forms. There are various instant message options such as WhatsApp or Blackberry Messenger, there is email and internet. Your university will more than likely provide information relating to tutoring sessions that may take the form of ‘physical’ study groups or e-tutoring (online tutoring). For me, in the first year, it was one-on-one study sessions with a fellow student who I contacted through the university’s website. In my second year I joined BBM study groups for each of the modules; these groups can also be found on the university website. I found this to be very useful, but not entirely satisfactory because it was not conducive to discussions. This year I joined various social network groups and I have found this to be far more interactive. Whatever your preferred style of interaction, there is always a solution.


No matter what your reason for studying, engage with others to avoid isolating yourself. Find out what method of communication best suits you so that while you may be alone in your study area you need not be lonely.



Friday, January 3, 2014

Study preparation

When I first registered for my studies at the end of 2011 for 2012 it was all ‘rah rah let’s do it’, I read every scrap of paper received from the university and followed instructions and guidelines meticulously.  This worked; it worked very well much to my surprise because I have never been an organized or follow-the-leader type of person.  2013 was a different story when it came to the study approach; I read the bare minimum when it came to the study guidelines.  I had become complacent imagining that I knew what needed to be done. It was a mistake, while I may have passed all my modules with flying colours, the enthusiasm was lacking because I had not planned in the same way I did in 2012. So I am determined that 2014 will be different.

I have started this study year by reading the general study guidelines for 2014, the content of which is very similar to the general study guidelines of 2012, but important nonetheless. I would like to share the points that I have found to be pertinent to raising my sense excitement and strengthening my resolve about the forthcoming studies.

Create a personal space, a place that is used almost exclusively for studying. This is necessary to avoid being distracted by activities going on around you.

Organise your study material and make up files for each module.

Read the Tutorials for each module as most of them will explain what chapters need to be studied for each assignment and use this as a guideline for the next step.

Draw up a study plan, the guidelines to which are very nicely laid out in the general study guidelines. I have found the year planner to be particularly helpful as it can be pinned up on the wall in my study area. This planner contains the important dates like workshops, assignments and exams as well as personal info like family events.  I also have an A4 diary with a year planner that I use to draft my study plan before transferring it to ‘wall’ year planner.

Once these steps are taken it is a go for studying for me.


In conclusion; creating a study space, organizing, reading and planning is what creates an environment conducive to independent long distant study.  This is my preparation, what is yours?

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Random thoughts

I woke up this morning with a myriad of thoughts going through my mind; all as a result of reading “A New Earth” by Eckhart Tolle. I am not going to write a review of the book, which would not be possible as I have only read the introduction and a couple of pages of the first chapter. I am going to share my random thoughts.

What does ‘I’ mean to me? One of the most difficult questions for me to answer is ‘who am I’.  You see ‘I’ , for me is not about identity. ‘I’ am nothing and everything, ‘I’ goes beyond what I can describe in words. Sure there are labels that would describe me ‘white’,  ‘female’, middle-aged’, mother, grandmother, student, South African, English-speaking, in a relationship, sister, aunt, etc… But all those things are merely labels - it is not who ‘I’ am. ‘I’ is an essence that goes beyond this physical body and yet it is the very core of what is. Anyway, that was the train of one of the random thoughts.

Awareness. Eckhart Tolle speaks of the time he first became aware, which got me thinking about my own awareness. The first thing that popped into my mind was an incident that happened many years ago, shortly after the passing of my husband. I was missing him and so I carried little items that he had given me in my handbag (or purse as some people call it). At work I would store my bag in my credenza next to my desk and one day someone called me outside and on my return I discovered that my bag had been stolen. I went into a rage because all that I held dear was gone, I had the entire office searching for my bag, but it was never found. That night I was lying in bed thinking about what had happened, silently accusing all and sundry in the office of either not watching my stuff or ‘maybe it was that person who stole it’ when suddenly a peace descended with the thought that it was just ‘stuff’. It did not actually matter who had taken it or even that it was gone because it was just something to which I had formed an attachment and it was not necessary.  Whether or not this is awareness for others it was for me because it brought me a sense of peace and clarity that the attachment to material things is an illusion. Perhaps I need to re-evaluate why I have a storage unit full of ‘stuff’…

Nothingness, unconsciousness, consciousness or nothingness, thought, word, action. This is another random rambling of my mind, sparked by ‘A New Earth’. Please do not expect an elaboration; I have none at this stage.

Intention is meaningless without action. Yesterday I stated that my intention was to use this blog to express my emotions, etc around my studies. While the above appears to have nothing to do with my studies it in fact has everything to do with my approach to my studies. A few of the modules that I have registered for require written assignments and written exams and these are my bugbears.  I have an unexplained fear of written exams as opposed to multiple choice question papers and when it comes to writing an assignment my tendency to procrastinate kicks in.  I leave assignments that in fact require greater effort than all the others, to the last minute thereby setting myself up for stress which would otherwise not be present. So what has this to do with my approach to my studies?  Simply put, I am hoping that by writing in my blog I will become more comfortable with the process and as I work through my modules, for which I have also started blogs, the writing will flow in a more organized fashion.


This post is undoubtedly a very good example of disorganized thought, I did not introduce the topic nor have I summarized the contents in my conclusion, factors that are essential in academic writing. However it is early days and I am confident that these issues will be resolved.



Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Welcome 2014!


My intention for this blog this year is to share my thoughts and emotions that go into my studying process and lay out what works for me. We all have our own methods and what works for me will not always work for someone else, but perhaps it will be of some use to someone, somewhere.

Two years ago I enrolled for a degree in psychology, something I had always wanted to study. The first year I was filled with enthusiasm and I followed all the guidelines as laid out by the University including finding a ‘study buddy’. It worked well. I also sought out, amongst my friends, those I knew would provide encouragement; that too worked well. I achieved my goals set for the first year and I did this by concentrating on my ultimate goal – graduation, even though I was aware that it was still a few years down the road. I lost sight of this in my second year.

I am not sure that this is the case for everyone, but I felt as though I had hit a wall. My planning was haphazard, writing the assignments did not have the same sense of urgency that they had in the first year. I procrastinated and did everything at the last minute. My actions, or rather lack thereof, created stress and I landed up cancelling two of my modules. Surprising enough my pass marks for the modules that I did write was excellent. BUT it is not a route I would recommend for anyone. I felt no real sense of achievement because I knew that I had not put my heart and soul into the year.

 Fortunately I has overcome that psychological hurdle (or ‘bump’ as one of my friends described it) and the enthusiasm has returned. My planning has begun and I welcome 2014 with open arms.

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Farewell 2013

I woke up this morning with a sense of completion.  Well, that is not entirely true, my first thought on waking up was ‘I must vacuum the house’, mundane perhaps, but fitting for the last day of 2013. I would like to start 2014 with a sparkly clean house, a sense of satisfaction. The satisfaction arises not only from having a clean house but the opportunity the cleaning process gives me to think about the past year and imagine what the new year holds.

Retrospection and nostalgia followed by planning for 2014. I do not do New Year resolutions, they have not worked for me in the past, so repeating that exercise would be setting myself up for failure. My aim is to reflect on what has created joy in my life and how to sustain those ‘creations’. The process would not be complete, of course, without thinking about the challenges faced and how these have served me. Finally I will reflect on what I hoped to achieve in 2013 but did not, what were the barriers? Can these barriers be lifted, what can I do differently that will turn these barriers into open doors in 2014?


Whatever the New Year may hold, the intention is to dance through it with a smile and heaps of love!