On the right tack

Right now I’m in a lull. The choppy waves have calmed, the skies have brightened and I’m drifting ever closer to the shore. As a gentle warm breeze motions across, there’s barely a sound to be heard, and my mind begins to wander off in…

SHARK! SHARK! OMG, SHARK!

Okay, so, when my new term starts in a week or so I’m not anticipating the Jaws theme to accompany me logging-in to Blackboard, nor am I currently cast adrift in a dinghy somewhere in the Atlantic: but I am currently in-between modules, having just finished the first term of my MA in Library and Information Services Management at the University of Sheffield; and I’m definitely enjoying the break as it’s giving me a chance to catch up with myself.

J. M. W. Turner [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Despite having studied part-time for 4 years for my UG degree (whilst working full-time), I’ve found finding my sea legs as a PG student more difficult than I imagined, mostly due to dealing with issues I hadn’t anticipated, such as: getting used to different online systems and email providers, being more rusty at writing essays than I thought, or having to navigate my way through a whole different system of administration.

I was also used to physically attending lectures and seminars at Birkbeck, whereas this time I’m ‘attending’ remotely or, in most cases, accessing lectures afterwards- basically degree by catch-up TV. It requires a different sort of planning and discipline studying in this way, and frankly I’m glad that the course encourages me to access materials week-to-week and engage with tasks, otherwise I think I would have been zig-zagging all over the place; I very much need a target or anchor to motivate me and keep me focussed.

Term 1 featured two modules: Libraries, Information and Society and Information Literacy. The first provided a good overview of the current library and information sector and an opportunity to get to hear about other people’s backgrounds and experiences; whilst the second introduced IL, particularly with a focus on teaching. Despite a few hiccoughs here and there (mostly down to managing myself) I enjoyed both modules, and came away from each of the week-to-week activities thinking about issues, questioning things and feeling very reflective about my professional development.

Both modules involved group work which, I must admit, came as a bit of a surprise- I wasn’t expecting to be engaged with what I think of as slightly more adventurous learning activities from day one. Having worked on a conference presentation remotely last year I felt fairly confident about managing such a task online, but it’s a totally different kettle of fish doing something like this for academic assessment and I definitely learnt a lot from the experience.

I’ve only had one set of marks back so far (which were good, yay!), and the final assessments were only submitted last week, so I don’t really know how well (or otherwise…) I’ve done: but as long as I don’t run aground I’ll be more than happy. My focus now is on preparing to set sail on Semester Two, and I’ve already thought about what worked, what didn’t, and what I need to do differently in order to maximise the potential of the coming term.

Anchors away…

About Chris

Subject Librarian at City, University of London specialising in tea, biscuits and terribly cheesy puns.

4 thoughts on “On the right tack

  1. Really interesting to read on your progress so far with your Masters course Chris. I’m sure you’ll be able to raise a flag to celebrate your accomplishments so far and you’ll be in smooth waters during the second semester. It does seem Sheffield are putting a lot into developing a good sense of community among their distance learning cohort and embedding collaborative work into their curriculum.

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