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The Corporation

Posted: 22/05/20

A new way of learning – a mature student’s view

Taking-up learning online and teaching remotely is something that students and tutors up and down the country have needed to adapt to pretty quickly during lockdown, as daily lessons are delivered at home.

  • Daryl using his laptop for his studies
  • Daryl admits that using technology didn't come easy!
  • Daryl runs his own gardening business

For one adult learner at West Nottinghamshire College, it didn’t come so easily at first – but as Daryl Statham-Waring navigates his way through his university-level business management programme, he has some really good advice which has aided him over the recent weeks.

He said: “I’d just completed the Level 4 in Automotive Repair and Maintenance course at West Notts and was considering what to do next. A friend on the same course happened to mention he was going to study a business management foundation degree at the college’s University Centre.  I think I just wanted to keep learning as I had enjoyed the last four years of study, so I decided to apply. 

“I wasn't sure if I was intelligent enough to do it, but I decided I would attempt it anyway. I’m actually very lucky with regards to work, as I have a small gardening business and have been able to scale it back, so I have more time to study.”

Technical glitch

Daryl describes himself as “one of the least ‘tech-savvy’ people you could meet”, saying: “I can make computers crash without even touching them! Just look at my photograph – if I was any good with software, I’d have definitely made myself more photogenic!” 

Technology-wise, during the first year of the university-level course, Daryl was familiar with Microsoft Word, Excel and Powerpoint. Microsoft Word wasn’t too much of a problem until he started trying to incorporate tables.

But he persevered, adding: “Thinking that I’d triumphed over all the technical software I needed to master, I was feeling more confident. Unfortunately, Covid-19 decided to surprise us all. At 49-years-old and always struggling with technology, I was quite worried about how we were going to be taught during the shutdown of college. 

“I’d heard there were such things as Microsoft Teams, Zoom and I had once used Skype, but I wasn't sure which, if any, of those we might be using.”

Daryl’s tutor Dave Jones told the class they would be using Zoom. Despite initially feeling not very confident in using another online platform, Daryl was soon at ease.

“I needn’t have worried,” said Daryl. “Zoom was so easy to use and a great way to be taught. I’m now very confident in using this and it’s great to be allowed to record the lesson to look back on afterwards.

“Studying has certainly been a challenge during the shutdown. I still have two assignments and a poster to complete before the end of the month, but I'm getting there. There is a good amount of resources for each assignment to access on Moodle and being able to use the e-books from the library definitely helps.”

Tutor support

Daryl feels reassured by the support of his tutors. Dave uses Zoom to discuss items with the class and Adela Brookes telephones students to go through any problems.

“Both tutors have been brilliant throughout this difficult time and I think what we as students should remember is that our teachers are going through the exact same thing as us and I'm sure it's not always easy for them either,” said Daryl.

With regards to work, Daryl is lucky enough to be able to continue throughout the lockdown as he can work outdoors without having contact with customers.

Finding a new focus

Like most of us, Daryl has felt the struggles of not being able to meet with friends and family during lockdown. He also found it difficult after a while to focus on his studies. However, he re-thought his daily routine which brought a renewed focus.

“After a week or so of trying to do my university-level studies, I was becoming frustrated with not being able to get my 'head in the game'. That’s when I decided I needed a routine,” explained Daryl.

He continued: “I now get out of bed around 8am or 9am, have breakfast and allow myself to wake up for an hour. If I still feel tired, I get in the shower to see if that helps, then I sit down and study for a couple of hours. If I feel like I'm connecting with the work, then I'll carry on; if not I'll take a break. Sometimes I'll go in the garden and do some work or sit in the sun. I may go for a walk, play a game online or have a chat with friends through Facebook Messenger.

“Sometimes I go back to studying later in the day if I feel inclined. The best thing is to find which part of the day when you work best and put that time to one side for you to study. Having somewhere quiet to study definitely helps and I know not everyone has got that.”

Daryl insists that having a simple routine has really helped him, adding: “I also find that putting on my headphones and cutting out any noise helps, and sometimes I’ll listen to Binaural beats which you can find on YouTube – it is soothing and it helps distract you.

“I hope that my tips can help lots of students who may be taking time to adjust to this new way of living and studying.”