Finding a balance leads to success
Through these platforms, adult learners can make appointments with tutors, discuss educational or personal issues with peers, submit assignments, post complaints and check schedules.
Dr Choong from ATC says the blendedlearning modes at online learning institutions have become the preferred choice for many adult learners.
Institutions such as Monash prepare their learners from the onset of the programme. During the first two days, Monash learners are oriented and eased back into a learning environment with as much help as possible.
They complete a unit on critical thinking to prepare them for the year’s intensive study. The unit provides learners with best practices and effective learning strategies to help them use their time more productively. assignments and revisions, and covering for unavoidable absences or late submissions can strengthen the bonds between peers. As you progress in life, the pull of various commitments becomes stronger especially when you are in the workforce. This can cause you to loosen your grip on the commitment of friendships. Hence, when you are working and studying, depending on yourself is somewhat second nature along with depending on the academic staff of your programme. This is especially so for those who take up distance or fully online learning as coursemates may be hundreds of miles away and the only contact they might ever make with each other is a brief one during convocation. Thus, they most probably would not experience a strong bond with their classmates. However, Prof Lee says that although online learning is permanently imprinted in today’s education landscape, the physical and social interaction between members of the cohort and the instructor adds a crucial dimension to learning. Feeling left out, being stumped on assignment questions, missing examination dates or not completely understanding some theories does not only happen to youngsters. It can happen to anyone, regardless of age and circumstances. Dr Choong says that academic discourse with the tutor and coursemates is imperative to achieve effective learning.
Research and use the best of social media or messaging apps that connect you to your coursemates.
There are social media groups, university and external forums, chats, or online discussions that you can actively participate in. This can be your best source of announcements, updates, clarifications, help and even answers.
These tools are especially important to individuals who do not make friends easily, do not have the time to be physically present or are far away geographically.
Also, try your best to make it for scheduled meetings, seminars, classes and hangout sessions during your online or part- time learning journey.
If there are not many such events in your programme or tertiary institution, initiate one yourself. You can plan to meet up or study with a few of your coursemates in a library or cafes that are work- or childfriendly.
These places give you the chance to meet and mingle with others who are in the same boat as you are.
You will be surprised by how much you can gain from having a support system. To have your coursemates as your compatriots is vital in gaining insight into how you can ace your studies. f work and family as well.
Taking on new projects, assignments and commitments at work or at home during the course of your studies may cause unnecessary strain on yourself and relationships in your life, whether personal or business.
There are ways to motivate yourself, but to bite off more than you can chew may cause you to be unsuccessful in certain areas of your work, studies or family relationships.
Take the required number of subjects – or less if you have to. Many universities even allow only one subject to be taken per semester.
This kind of flexibility not only allows you to pass every course towards the completion of the programme, but to properly gain the knowledge and experience you signed up for.
At the home or work front, as much as possible, schedule large commitments such as moving house, having a child, getting a new car or changing your jobs around your examinations or submissions.
Prof Lee says this includes discussing with your employer and significant other about your career goals and your intention to further your studies so that they will be in the know when you decline an invitation or commitment to work- related matters.
When adult learners embark on a programme, they do not enter this journey alone as the people they work and live with will be affected, too.
However, it is important that they have the support of their employer, spouse and family.
Finishing first and fast is not the answer in any aspect of your life. It is more important to finish the race well regardless of the amount of time you take.
Keeping in touch and mingling with coursemates help build a strong support system to help you through your journey.
Dr Danny Choong.