Step 2 Do I have the right skills for study?
Having found the time to study it is important to review your study skills. Learning is a journey and distance learners in particular need to draw on a range of skills to help them on their way. Activity 2 will support you in reflecting on your skills, taking stock and discovering where you might need to develop new skills.
Students tell us that the skills they need to be successful in distance learning are a mixture of what might be called soft and hard skills. On the soft side, the kinds of thing they talk about are self-motivation, dealing with stress and becoming more confident as a learner. On the hard side, which is more likely to depend on the discipline studied, they value being able to take detailed notes, write essays or do mathematical calculations.
What does this suggest?
If you picked mainly even numbers (2, 4, 6, 8 or 10), this suggests you are more confident in what academics refer to as ‘hard’ discipline skills. If you selected mainly odd numbers (1, 3, 5, 7 or 9), this suggests you are more confident with ‘soft’ skills.
Don’t worry about the outcome of this task as you will need both sets of skills to be a successful distance learner. Being aware of them is the first step on your study journey – engaging in learning will develop these skills.
Mg Mg’s reflections on this activity
“My preferred study approach was using hard skills. This didn’t surprise me as my job expects me to have mostly hard skills. I have to monitor stock levels and order more when we are low, and I write short sales reports for my manager each week. He needs me to have the answers so I like to be prepared. I think this discipline will be useful for distance education as I will have to motivate myself as the teaching will be in the books rather than a person in front of me.
But I also have some of the soft skills as I like it when my manager praises me and I am curious to learn new things.”
Have a chat with someone who knows you well about your approach to study. Many of us can be overly critical of ourselves and it can be motivating to have an impartial perspective on your skills as a learner.
Based on your response to the activity and your conversation, look at these two examples of free OpenLearn resources to help you develop more effective study skills. These are short informal courses designed to help you get a taste of what distance learning in higher education is like.