Some weeks ago I mentioned that I was taking up a Cambridge on-line course (Psychology in real life, to be specific). Well, now I am more than half-way through and I would like to share my views with you, dear Readers: What is distance learning really like?
Number one: As you sow, so shall you reap. If you follow the course, watch the videos you are asked to and contribute to discussions with your classmates, you learn a lot. If you think that you can “cheat the system” and get a shiny diploma for a couple of random posts – it might work, but your new knowledge would equal zero. But then again, it all depends on what you are looking for.
Number two: Clashes are good. Inevitably, your on-line class will be multicultural. As a result, you might disagree on various things – and when you talk them through, you will often discover new views you have never previously considered. For example, I was surprised to learn how widely research ethical standards differ across countries.
Number three: Keep track of what is going on. If possible, read everything your classmates share. Watch their videos, look at the links they post. Sometimes take the lead and go the extra mile to share something interesting. You will be surprised how much you can learn from them (the fact that you learn a lot from your tutor and textbook is probably clear).
Finally: Make the most of this chance. Time just flies when you enjoy yourself – and honestly, the on-line courses feel way too short. So use them to the fullest! E-mail your tutor when you don´t understand something, add your classmates on Facebook and share your views (or even meet up?) and – most importantly – dedicate some time to real thinking about the issues raised in class. One day it might pay off…
In a nutshell: This is probably very subjective, but – based on my experience – the Cambridge on-line course deserves an A and I would heartily recommend this way of learning to every curious student! 🙂