LJ — Motivating myself in online course. “Just start” something, anything!

As a visual learner (if you buy that learning style is ‘a thing’, opinion is mixed) so the presentation and layout in a lesson are really important to me. The old school style of our module really turns me off. (Just saying smile ) As a result so often when I plan to study I see the activity layout is uninspiring and turn off. Why should students care if we don’t care enough to make it look interesting? It doesn’t have to be a glossy publication or travel brochure but there are plenty of resources for Creative Commons free to use with attribution images. (List at the end)

However, as a motivated grown-up I push on…. my motto starting the MAODE was/is, “I will try all that I can and learn”. After all, they (OpenU) are experts and I paid a lot of money for their advice! Just start, just try something. I am constantly surprised and rewarded.

If you are busy just read the following bold headings.

1. What is your favourite thing in your course? Is it writing? Or researching a topic (googling around)? Just look at anything in your studies that is easy or interesting.

2. ‘Just start’ something. There is a reason Nike says Just do it. Find the easiest or most fun part of the activity or module you can find or use google scholar to look at an article on the topic related to your subject. I promise it ALWAYS lights the fire of interest. It took me two years of pain and frustration to realise this. Don’t wait till it is 9pm after dinner you will be too tired and the stimulation can disturb sleep. I am last in my office at work, I learned that if I eat dinner there and study for an hour or two I feel great. I go home at 8:30-9pm, relax and go to bed. So ‘Just start something’ and you will be surprised how your brain will start ‘firing and wiring’ new neuro-networks, also known as ‘learning‘ 😉

Story: skip if you don’t have time. Tonight was my best ever stumble into super interesting! After writing the draft of this post I started checking out the David Wiley webpage in our readings list this week. As I looked through my own archive on iCloud I stumbled on a screenshot of his name and a Vimeo link to a keynote from 2008 where he describes the creation and evolution of CC BY NC SA! Ah-ma-zing!

That lead me to search for something more current and found a talk he presented at Texas Uni called the ‘Future is now and it’s Open’. Fantastic! ‘RETHINK’ was my favorite bit about Open Pedagogy. He engaged students to rewrite chapters of open textbooks and they invited experts to talk about those topics so they added video! This Kung Fu video Nixon Kennedy blog vs wiki  was the result of one inspired open activity and it has almost 60K hits on YouTube – not just a 2 page ‘Disposable assignment’ tossed in the bin. I wondered if my hero Robin Derosa (actualham.com) got her inspiration for her class project writing an English Anthology online textbook to save students money. (I found her one night in the same way – stumbling through interesting diversions). Two hours later I had learned a ton about OER and became a complete convert.

3. Let go of perfectionism, remember you only need to pass. My tutors and classmates are so kind, they always say, “life happens”. If you are rushed, have illness or caring responsibilities whatever, remember you only need 50% to pass and if you care enough to be stressed you will likely get more. Read the table of content or Abstract first and then ‘Skim, scrap and hmmm what was that third S….’

4. Use a tracker or planner like Trello.com – (thank you, Selina, for reminding me how useful this is!) it is free for personal use and you can track everything you are trying to hold in your mind like assignments, deadlines, things to do sometime someday. Mine has ‘boards’ for gardening, study, work, reading I want to do someday, my dream business and tasks like sorting out my workshop, website and on and on. It will help you chip away at them and get them out of your head so you can sleep!

5. Have you tried Grammarly or another electronic helper if you don’t know how to write perfect English? The free version has a Chrome plugin and checks all my emails too. They will eventually send you %40 off and I went for it. Google, ‘Scholarly writing or Academic writing’ and you will find loads of help. I particularly liked Walden University’s tutorial videos – microlearning in action! 

6. Have you thought about asking someone to be your writing coach?
It took me a couple of tries, braving rejection, and asking suitable people. Recently a colleague retired. She is a talented researcher and she was willing to see how we got on. I was clear there was no commitment, I admitted that I had bad habits and I didn’t know how to improve. We agreed I would show her a draft of my first essay and see how it went. We ended up having 2-hour session and became better friends! She enjoyed the coaching and I was so grateful to get her feedback. To be honest, I was intimidated, nervous, and embarrassed. However, we all have many skills. I studied Art and I use it every day to enhance my life and those around me. 🙂

7. Do you Sleep at least 7 0r 8 hours a night? If you have small children try to swap nights so both of you get some and don’t be afraid to sleep in separate beds sometimes if the other person snores! It is so taboo in our culture to sleep apart, one person suffers while the snorer always sheepishly denies snoring! If you don’t have a spare bedroom get a single mattress and keep it against the living room wall with a basket of blankets conveniently nearby. If you have been woken up go sleep on the spare bed. Getting enough sleep is good for your brain and good for your overall health.

For more practical study tips check out my colleague’s brilliant blog at Psylina Psays

Photo resourcesremember free to use is not FREE. Always attribute the source or author in a caption to let the reader know it isn’t your work. If you can’t find a free one email the owner and politely ask the owner’s permission. I have always found this a positive experience! Keep the replies for noting in your tutor assignments.


‘some’ flickr – not all




Iconfinder and the Noun Project

Creative Commons.org (a whole blog will follow on this minefield topic)



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