1.4 Learning Through Activities
In Learning to Learn the activities involve many different tasks. These include:
- Answering a question about something you have just learned by writing a short answer.
- Completing a multiple-choice quiz.
- Watching a video and making notes about the most important points.
The activities are important because they:
- Give you the opportunity to review what you have learned from your study of the course.
- Help you to consolidate your own learning, for example by prompting you to revisit parts of the course that you have not fully understood.
- Generate evidence that can be used to achieve the seven challenges that feature in this course. These challenges are discussed in detail in Section 1.7.
There is a suggested time for each activity; for example, “Allow about 10 minutes for this activity.” These timings should give you a rough idea of how much effort is required. If you want to spend more time on an activity, that is fine as long as you feel you are learning. If you encounter ideas that are familiar, you may find you work through the activities more quickly. Effective learning does not have to take many hours; in fact, trying to concentrate for too long can become less efficient, especially if you become tired. You are the only person who can tell what works best for you. At first, it may be worth noting the actual time you spend on each task. If you feel you are spending too much (or too little) time on the activities, you can decide whether to change the way you study.
Once you have completed an activity you should click on the “Reveal comment” button and read the comments that follow. These comments are intended to highlight points that we think may be important. But, again, do not worry if your ideas differ from ours. You may produce ideas that we have not thought of or have not included. You may have approached the ideas presented in the course from a different viewpoint from our own. This is quite likely, bearing in mind the fact that the course is about you and we can only guess what your own perspective will be.
Probably the best way to see how activities work is to try one right now.
Activity 1.1: Learning Experiences
In the videos below, our case studies Karen, Levene, and Shehnaz speak about their learning. As you watch each video, think about the following question: What sort of learning experiences has each person had since leaving school?
When you’ve finished watching the videos, write down your answers and then read the comments on this activity by clicking “Reveal comment.”
Transcript: Karen (her own words are spoken by an actress)
I left school when I was 18 and I started work the day after. I had no high school diploma. I got a job as an office assistant making minimum wage. My first assignment was filing documents, and I realized that I didn’t even know my alphabet, so I found a copy of the alphabet and I stuck it to the wall. My manager asked me about it and I admitted that keeping a copy of the alphabet stuck to the wall helped me. And he said, “OK. That’s a good idea.” I would rather have the files be in the correct order rather than have them wrong!
Transcript: Levene (his own words are spoken by an actor)
I left school at the age of 18 with my GED.
Transcript: Shehnaz (her own words are spoken by an actress)
I left school when I was 18, and I left without finishing high school because I got married. I was supposed to continue my studies, but I didn’t because my mother-in-law was sick, and so I ended up taking care of her. And then we moved to England for two years. So that is why I had to have a break in my studies. And in between that, I had my children. And because I was so young, I didn’t want to leave them and go back to school. So while they were younger, I used to baby-sit at home with them.
Karen describes a learning experience that took place at work. She seems to have been very unprepared for the work she started when she left school. She had no qualifications and she also struggled to do her job because she had not learned the alphabet. However, once at work, she learned very quickly. When she explained to her boss what she was doing when she stuck a copy of the alphabet to the wall she was able to use communication skills she had already learned.
Levene seems to feel that his qualifications were not very special. On the other hand, he has been able to draw on previous experience and has been able to use this to explore new learning. Perhaps you got the impression that he would rather be talking about the successful learning he has done since leaving school.
Shehnaz speaks about why she had to stop formal learning because of family commitments. Shehnaz is married, has children, and has taken care of her mother-in-law when she was ill. Did you wonder what Shehnaz might have learned as a result of these experiences? She may well have learned far more from these experiences than from her academic courses at high school.
Were your responses were different from these comments? Do you think that you have given “wrong” answers?
If you answered “Yes” to the first question, you should be encouraged. It sounds as though you are really engaged with the course already and are thinking about what Karen, Levene, and Shehenaz were saying. If your answer was “Yes” to the second question, then this is a good time to say that in this course there are are no “wrong answers” for any of the activities. Rather, for every activity there is a range of possible answers. To repeat, if the answers that you have given help you to develop your understanding then you are making excellent use of the activities in the course.