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…

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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