Learning at university.
In the beginning
As you leave further education and head off into higher education there are a number of things which change. One of these is the way you are encouraged to engage with learning at university and how you are taught. Although there are still learning outcomes and learning journeys to be explored, gone is the usual 9:00 – 3:30 days with a designated lunch hour and ‘breaks’ at set times. In a similar way, learning opportunities are presented and it is up to you, the learner, to collate, curate and log all these in a meaningful way. Without educators monitoring your every move, it is important that you develop the way you actually learn in order to adopt it for the rest of your programme in order to achieve your required aim.
Its all up to you!
The first thing you need to acknowledge is that you will have to become your own motivator. Learning in higher education is very independent and, although this might include what you explore in your learning, it also means that no-one is going to be looking over your shoulder and telling you what to do. I am very privileged to work at an institution of learning (a university) and every day I continue to learn. However this does not occur by me just sitting looking at my twitter feed in the library as the tomes of knowledge slowly permeate into my brain cells by some process remotely connected to osmosis! I have to work at it. I have to read, acknowledge, reflect, evaluate, record and critically engage with the information. Yes it would be a lot easier to be sat at home broadcasting games to my Twitch Channel, but this would not necessary increase the required areas of knowledge. Learning is not easy – its a hard slog, but it is also extremely rewarding. So try to foster the need to learn, the curiosity to explore and the motivation to engage, if you can, then you will be well on your way to engaging effectively with the content of the course.
Trust how you learn
Luckily we all learn differently. It is really important that you acknowledge how you do this and not to be worried about what other people are doing. If you prefer to write notes, then do that, if you are a laptop user than do that. Learning how you learn best is very important and you will only get better at this by exploring different ways. Keep the things that work best and discard everything else. Ask people how they do it and try it and decide whether to adopt or integrate it into your way of working. If something is not working, change it – you will feel better for it.
I’m not talking about when you attend sessions here -no getting out of those 9am lectures!
Time and Place
I’m a morning person. I probably can engage much better before the lunchtime hunger pangs set in. Because of this I often get up early and work hard until noon. But you might not be like me – probably a good point in itself. You need to acknowledge when is it the best time for you to engage and learn. I’m not talking about when you attend sessions here -no getting out of those 9am lectures! -, I’m talking about when you engage with your own independent learning. Coupled with this is the place you learn best. Some people prefer to learn late into the evening sat on their bed with piles of books around them. Others, like me, remain more focused sat in the library or a coffee shop, reading and taking notes. If you need music, then stick your earbuds in, if you need silence then find a quiet place. Whatever your preferred time and place then recognise it and develop it.
Break it up
I often walk to work with a whole day a head of me when I will be able to engage with my own choice of learning. But when you look at the whole day – for me 9am to between 5/6pm – you will suddenly realise that that is a huge amount of time to remain on task and concentrating for. Because of this it is important to break up the day with breaks and different tasks. I will often do the first few activities on my ‘to do list’ within my office. Then I might go and read in a coffee shop, and then back to the office, then to the library. Believe it or not this will definitely help with your concentration and application. There is a lot to say about that age old saying – “a change is as a good as a rest”. And since I’ve just mentioned rests – make sure you do that as well. Go for a walk, have some food, watch some Youtube, whatever your choice is, make sure you do it – but remember to get back to it, once the time is up! I’m going to talk about ‘to do lists’ in a future post, so keep a look out for it!
So hopefully you got some ideas as to how you will start out promoting our own learning at university. I’m not going to talk about aspects like – keep hydrated, eat and sleep regularly etc, I am assuming you know all that even if you might not implement it. Next we are going to look at something that we all have but never have enough of – time. So subscribe to the blog so you will get notified when the next post comes out. Until then, enjoy learning!