Back in 2013 I was due to start a stand-alone module with The Open University. It had been over 12 years since my previous course and my life had changed completely – I'd had two kids, the house was full of childhood paraphernalia, my spare time was very short and my 11 and 7 year old had more of a social life than me.
What was I doing adding to my life load by studying as well?!?! I didn't know if I could do that effectively and be mum, wife and nurse – but I decided to find out.
I signed up for the OU OpenLearn courses that were relevant to the module I was undertaking and wrote reflective notes on how well each study session went. I looked at how much I had done each time, what was I procrastinating on, what was making it productive learning (or not), what time of day did I study best and should I listen to music or no music?
When I reviewed my notes I realised I had changed a lot. I found I worked better in the morning – which was a great shock as previously any time before 10:30am was definitely a "beware of the bear" moment for those unfortunate souls who had to put up with me at the start of the day. I realised I had a spare half hour before work each day work where I could study in the empty cafe, rather than chatting in the staff room – I got so much done in that time. I had discovered my "Learning Power (half) Hour!"
I also realised I could waste an hour and a half deciding on, cooking, and eating lunch!! I would have to make lunch the night before to give myself back an additional hour a day.
And these changes worked. By knowing how I learned best I was able to stay on track with my course, look after my family and work at the same time.
Now it's 2022, and in October I'm starting a BSc (Hons) in Geography and Environmental Science. Again my life has changed – the kids are older for starters, I have a different job, and working through the pandemic has left its mark. I'm no longer sure that my old way of studying is still right for me, so back to OpenLearn and reflection I go.
I wonder what I'll learn about myself this time?