Before entering the NUGSE I was not fully aware of how family and work influence academic performance at university. “A person may find conflict between her role as a mother and her role as a student when her child’s demands for time and attention distract her from the needs of her studies” (Adofo, 2013, p.29). Therefore to meet the high standards at university I have to find balance and prioritize all tasks throughout all time. I had to set up dedicated times for studying and sometimes I find myself sitting next to my son and daughter and they occasionally simulate me: they sit in front of laptops for children, put books around, write notes and make serious faces.
I could say that prioritizing and planning your time efficiently are main skills that online students have to learn quickly. Planning backward from deadlines, use of planner organizers, Google Scholar and Calendar – tools that ease life of online students. By using these instruments online students will meet deadlines and find scholar sources of information.
Finding support from your family and close friends are important too. Distance learning takes time and students should definitely speak out if they face difficulties. I always ask for help if I need to and delegate some responsibilities to my family members.
Also my advice for those students who have children: schedule bonding time each day for at least 20 minutes. I switch off everything from my head (work, studying, home responsibilities, and other thoughts in mind) and try to spend some quality time with children only by playing, reading books, going outside and other activities. Sometimes cuddling in front of TV works well too.
Personally speaking, I think finding support from group mates are inevitable part of online process as well. Most of the time, we are chatting about recent news from NUGSE, assessment tasks and clarification about requirements. Additionally, we are as the group support each other and share good resources that could be useful for research. Looking back to one and half year of studying I could say that I feel lucky to meet and collaborate with my group mates.
Some suggestions for improvement:
– Less intensive course. As the 2-year program has been specially designed for teachers-in-service, the content and load of courses should be accordingly less demanding.
– More practical content. As Kazakhstani educational system is going through fast-paced reforms, the content of the online distance course could include strategies of how to deliver these reforms in classroom and how to become a ‘change agent’ (Fullan, 2007).
Overall online students meet a lot of challenges. Some strategies include finding support from relatives and group mates, effective planning and use of up-to-date tools.
Adofo, S. (2013). Challenges and Coping Strategies of Student Nursing Mothers in Tertiary Institutions in the Greater Accra Region of Ghana (Doctoral dissertation, University of Ghana).
Fullan, M. (2007). The new meaning of educational change. Routledge.