So you just engaged with some home study. Home study is quite different from the classroom and presents different challenges for the learner. Having completed and delivered many courses online and in classroom as a trainer and tutor, I believe you must approach things in a different way if at home.
This viewpoint will help you start to plan your study, by assessing the differences between the classroom and home. My best advice is to consider your home to be the classroom and take onboard the following:
- Consider it as a business proposition
Business is about ROI (return on investment). What are you getting for your Euro? By this I mean you have entered into a contractual arrangement whereby you agree a sum of money to be paid for a service (and goods) which will terminate at a particular time in the future.
Ask yourself what are my benefits? These could be – new knowledge – skill attainment – new perspectives – a certification. All of these are good and representative of benefits because a lot of business benefits are not necessarily tangible. Although there is salary guidance for certified project managers, accounts etc. So your mindset must be a business one.
But you must also consider the risks. All business ventures come with risk. For me the biggest risk to home study is maintaining focus or a lack of focus.
- Your home is your classroom!
You might say sure it is, but when you consider all the distractions which exist in the home actually it isn’t. So you need to make it your classroom. Take steps to turn it into a classroom. Pick a room or spot and designate it as your office (study room). This should be beyond as many distractions as possible TV fridge etc. Use this spot each time you study.
When you enter your “at home office”, change your mindset to your “at work” business mindset this will help you stay focused and avoid the distractions of the home.
- Treat the work as a project
There are lots of tips and guidance online for setting out a study plan. The project approach will help mitigate again the risks as mentioned above. Here is my guidance.
- If your course is certified and has an exam at the end start by setting the exam date. Say last week of a month.
- Work back from this and consider the number of modules in the course. Say eight.
- Now break each into a week so eight weeks to do the work. Some modules will be large some small so there is a little contingency here. This is good I would recommend some contingency for unforeseen events or foreseen events such as work or family issues
- Define your schedule and assign start, end and middle dates first
- Break down the course modules by the week (as above)
- Break down the weeks by hours i.e. 10 hours a week = two hours/day
- Leave a day or two a week free. If need be use this for contingency
- Set milestones (significant points i.e. 50% complete target)
- Set up a calendar preferable on a wall and strike off completed work as you go this helps with the motivation
- If you overrun on a topic or module no bother, reassess your schedule from the end date backwards
- Make use of all resources
Again think about the business proposition. If you paid for it make use of it. Most courses come with online or downloadable resources. Better still some come with tutor support. This means you have access to an expert by email or phone. Tutors can assist you with your study plan, keeping on track and most importantly exam advise. Also if there is a community online you can tap into, then do it.
Studying from home is not easy. A lack of focus is the biggest risk to completing your course. Hopefully this guidance will help you reduce this risk and keep you on track.