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What to know about distance education before you start
We know that there are many advantages to studying through distance education. In the article “5 Advantages of studying through distance education”, we outlined the top five reasons for you: (i) it is flexible, (ii) you can work while you study, (iii) it opens wider network opportunities, (iv) it enhances your time management skills, and (v) improves your technical skills. Click here to read the full article.
It is undeniable: studying through distance learning is convenient. However, staying motivated to complete your studies, no matter how well-suited distance education may seem, remains a challenge for many students. It is easy to get distracted and procrastinate and find things to do that seem more fun, instead of working on your assignments.
Every day we fill our time with important, less important and unimportant activities. Steven Covey wrote about the “Big Rocks” in his book The seven habits of highly effective people”. The “Big Rocks” refer to the things we need to prioritise in our lives, and include the big rocks, the pebbles and the sand that fill our lives.
The big rocks symbolise the things that matter the most in your life, the things you value and genuinely care about. This could be your children, your loved ones, your education, your health, your dreams or career, doing something you love, etc. It is the “big things” in your life. Then Covey describes the pebbles as the things of medium importance in your life and compares sand to those things that are of little value and importance to you.
Covey explains that your life should be like filling a jar with big rocks, medium-sized pebbles and small particles of sand. Your life should mostly be filled with the big rocks (that which is most important to you), then the smaller pebbles in between and if there is space, those things that does not make a difference in your life.
If your studies matter to you, you need to prioritise activities to help you accomplish your learning goals.
Here is a list of the top five tactics that can help you focus on your education as one of your “big rocks”:
#1 Follow a timetable
One of the joys of studying through distance education is having the freedom to decide when you want to learn and how. However, in our years of teaching and learning experience, we know that you will soon fall behind with your assignments unless you commit to a timetable for each module. Follow the study planner of your institution and schedule time for the recommended contact sessions. Draw up an individualised study schedule for when you plan to study for each module to keep to the due dates of each assignment.
#2 Create a dedicated study space
To be productive, you need to find an area where you can study without distractions. A suitable desk, comfortable chair and room with adequate light are crucial aspects of learning in the right physical space. Another strange thing about motivation is that it is often affected by the ambience. For example, if you are feeling lazy, trying to study in your PJs will not help you. Take a fresh shower, get dressed, and have a healthy breakfast! Changing the setting will assist you in getting into study mode and allow you to create a mindset that is conducive to learning.
#3 Get a study buddy
Staying connected with like-minded friends is key to not feeling isolated in your studies. Most e-learning platforms (such as BMT College’s Virtual Campus) provide opportunities to connect with fellow students. A study buddy can positively influence you because they can help you make sense of the study material, send you personal reminders or just motivate you in a way that resonates with you.
#4 Manage your diet, exercise and sleep schedule
Students regularly use the excuse that because they study late, they cannot exercise, and often also eat junk food because they have no time to cook healthy food. Poor lifestyle habits will influence your study efficiency and your study achievements.
#5 Find your learning style
We know from experience that there is more than one learning style. It is not about how long you study but how suitable your study method is for how you learn best. Do you understand concepts better through visual aids or while discussing the study material with others? It would help if you found out what works best for you. Distance learning is an easy and convenient method to get a qualification, but discipline and structure will keep you motivated and on track. Studying through distance education does not require you to memorise endless facts. It is quite the opposite; you must read the study until you find the more profound meaning and connections to other ideas and disciplines. Your engagement in the learning activities offered through the learning institution will help you find your ideal learning style.
If you apply these five easy tactics, distance learning can be your most rewarding journey. Why wait? Change your life, change your destiny; an exciting new learning journey is awaiting you.