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Distance learning & the high distinction rush

Tech and Innovation

Posted on December 11, 2009

3 min read

It really is hard to have a defined experience via distance learning.

Interacting with a computer screen via a keyboard attached to a CPU contained within a box – is that an experience?  I have become so used to this type of communication I think I am starting to think it’s an automatic reflex. Herein lies the inherent problem with being a remote student.  How do you keep the motivation up long enough and stay focussed to complete unit after unit?

For me it is simple, I tap into another automatic reflex: the urge to succeed. A win or a exemplary grade to me is like a caffeine hit to the addict. I get a little rush and it sends tingles all the way down to my nether regions every time.

So I bash away at assignment after assignment, coercing the last drop of inspiration into every report and essay. As I complete each one I hope that a lecturer in some far away deprived of sunlight office will look at my work and go “Wow. This guy is Good. He should Win. High Distinction, period.”

Second Life Uni

Alas, that is not always how it happens – although from time to time it has – which is just enough to keep me going on a day to day basis. But surely this lack of interpersonal contact time with lecturers and other students is just a little too removed to be considered a real world experience?  Can Secondlife lectures really substitute the real thing?

I often have to ask myself if I am actually really learning at all. Aren’t I just playing with computers and doing something creative in a format and medium that I love? A great ‘Eureka’ moment hit me recently when I was asked to re-arrange 3 songs, contemporary, jazz and hip hop for my niece who had to complete a dance for her school. I thought “Yeah sure easy.” But as I sat there pulling tricks with software and coercing three vastly different pieces into a perfectly mashed-together medley (like an auto-tuned Glee cast track), I noticed her Dad slack jawed in the background – amazed at how I could do what I was doing. And there was my “Aha” moment. I do know stuff. I have learnt things. I might even be slightly clever. Then the software crashed and I lost all my work but that is another story.

Second Life Uni

Unbeknownst to me, the University of Newcastle has bestowed a vast array of tricks and installed then in my subconscious like a Windows security patch running in the background. It’s there, and it is doing something, hopefully something really cool, but you just don’t quite know it.

Now that’s an experience, no doubt about it.

Are you studying remotely? Have you completed a degree or some form of tertiary education online? How was your experience and motivation? Really interested to hear and connect with others who have managed similar Work, Uni, Life circumstances.