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Key skills: making a difference
Key skills: making a difference

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1.3 About this course

This course is for anyone studying in higher education, such as an Open University course, following a programme of studies leading to a qualification such as a diploma or a degree, or working more generally on their own career and professional development within, or external to, the workplace. You can use the course at any stage during your learning career whenever you want to improve or update your skills. If you are returning to study, you may find it particularly helpful to use this course at the beginning of your studies as part of your preparatory work since it is better to get into good habits from the start.

While the main text introduces you to key skills, this course is not a how-to-do-it manual of tips and techniques. What it aims to do is to show you how you can develop your own skills effectively to improve your overall performance by:

  • helping you to identify those aspects you need to concentrate on;

  • drawing up a plan of action for your learning needs;

  • finding and using resources to help you to develop your skills;

  • monitoring your progress as you work on the particular skills you have identified; and

  • evaluating your work overall.

To help you make maximum use of the course there are a number of different components:

  1. this main text

  2. a Skills File that you create yourself. Use this to store the Bookmarks and Skills Sheets mentioned below, and to keep an ongoing record of your progress;

  3. Bookmarks, comprising one Bookmark for each key skill. Each Bookmark describes the skill and gives details of those aspects that you need to learn and practise. It also lists the standards to be achieved. The Bookmarks are designed so that you can print them out and file them with your work. We recommend that you store them in your Skills Files;

  4. Skills Sheet Templates that you should print out and use to record your ideas and responses to the main activities; they are designed to help you keep a record of your skills progress and achievements;

However, the most important component of the course is you. We have provided headings, lists and activities to help you as you work on the key skills. But we want you to take part as you read, get involved in using and adapting the skills as part of your study and learning and jot down your plans, ideas and reactions.

Since the focus of the course is you and your own learning and development, it is designed for you to work on it by yourself. However, there are a number of different sources you can draw on for help and guidance. Your own course may have time and support allocated explicitly for developing skills, you may have the opportunity to attend a skills workshop, or you may be involved in other training programmes. There are many books and online resources available that you can use to help you develop specific skills and techniques, including the Good Study Guide series.