Students have busy lives and long commutes. It can seem that living in at university is the ideal way to be a student and I wanted to show commuting students that they are a valued part of our university and that commuting to university is a recognised and valid way to participate. These two things came together and I created a learning resource, Studying on your Commute, for students to access via our VLE.
As a Learning Developer, specialising in effective study techniques, time management comes up a lot. We are a small, specialist healthcare university in South West London, many of our students report being time poor, many have long commutes to university and/or to placements. My experience is that students value guidance on creating a range of study practices to enable them to develop the infamous independent learning that we hear so much about. (Thomas, Jones and Ottaway 2015). The time spent commuting can be profitably used, as can other funny chunks of ‘spare’ time; between classes, when your neighbour takes your kids for an hour, in the dentist’s waiting room. In some ways these constraints can create focus and actually help us study.
So this resource was born. I wanted to make something that had ideas for students commuting by public transport through London and the South East; crowded and often bitty with lots of changes and likely to be standing up. So from a design view I wanted it to be simple, and follow a standard format. I wondered about how to divide it up. In the end I went for Planning, Reviewing, Thinking, Reading and Listening to include some processes e.g. Thinking, and some methods e.g. Reading. Each section provides some examples of ways of studying on the move, all linked to the central themes of my effective study teaching - Link it, Use it, Transform it- to support the development of a meta-cognitive approach. I have a group of students who work with me to create and review learning resources and after they gave positive feedback the resource went live. They are interested in developing the flashcard section further. I’m encouraged to see how students use flashcards and flashcard apps for more than just rote learning.
A colleague asked me if other universities had a similar resource, so I asked the LDHEN (Learning Development in Higher Education Network) JISC list and was surprised to find that although there are a wealth of other resources for students who live away from campus, this idea of providing a resource on using commuting time was new to them. I also got feedback on the variety of experiences of commuting student in different parts of the country, so I’m interested to hear from you whether my Planning, Reviewing, Thinking, Reading, and Listening categories can be adapted for other types of commuting and for other types of ‘spare’ time.
Thomas, L. Jones, R. and Ottaway, J. (2015) Effective practice in the design of directed independent learning opportunities. HEA. https://www.heacademy.ac.uk/system/files/resources/effective_practice_in_the_design_of_directed_independent_learning_opportunities.pdf accessed 24.1.18
Picture reference: Annie Mole https://www.flickr.com/photos/anniemole/2706360041
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