This year has been very different from any other, and learners have had to quickly adapt during this unprecedented time of COVID-19.
As the lockdown periods continue to be extended Access Skills has decided to survey some of our learners to find out their experience of studying in these challenging times.
We thought you might be interested in what they said.
What is the best thing about studying through COVID-19?
Our respondents were quite positive about studying throughout the pandemic and the time they have suddenly gained to focus on studying. One learner said, “When I have time off work there is nothing else to do but study; Covid has allowed me time to focus”, and another learner echoed this, “I’m learning more as I’m able to concentrate without disruptions”.
What is the most challenging aspect?
Adapting to learning changes and barriers as a result of COVID-19 has been something learners have had to do very quickly. One learner emphasised that the most challenging aspect has been “balancing stressful work with studying”, while another learner added “juggling work and study with staff issues”.
When your home becomes all-consuming for your job and personal life, this can become a challenge for learners, particularly one learner who explained they were “trying to find time whilst managing home responsibilities” and another who found it difficult “not being able to seek support from my colleagues”.
What is the biggest difference?
Learning amidst a pandemic means we are having to rely more and more on technology, whilst still requiring support and guidance from others. Our learners reported that the new ways of working such as training by Zoom, are very different, but not so difficult and have some advantages. It is not a surprise that some learners suggested that the biggest difference for them has been the lack of physical connection with others, but heartening to hear that other contact, such as specialist Facebook pages, have provided much needed support with others who were sharing the same experiences.
What helps you to stay organised with your studies?
Having good organisational skills always helps effective learning and avoid added unnecessary stress. Learner’s commented on the importance of time management in staying organised and being positive about the effect the pandemic has had on their organisation skills. “I have a goal in sight. I am very focused anyway, but COVID has made me more structured”.
How do you ensure to “switch off” from studying?
Amongst answers such as sleeping and spending time with family, the overwhelming view from our learners is that there needs to be a clear separation of learning and living your normal life. One learner said “I only study in my home office and when I am finished I close the door” while another makes sure to “put everything away and have a nice relaxing bath”.
How do you stay motivated and productive?
Learners commented that it’s difficult at times to keep motivated and productive during the pandemic, yet there were also some positives. Some have clear goals and remain focused on these, while others report that they are “eager to learn more but hope that end goals are near”.
Another learner, referring to keeping motivated and productive, emphasised the appreciation of getting an assignment back with positive feedback, noting this recognition as a driver.
What helps you to remain connected to others?
Physical contact, from a warm handshake or sympathetic hug to a congratulatory pat on the back, are all important human experiences. With this temporarily taken away, we are constantly having to find new ways to feel connected. The advice of one learner was to connect with staff and motivate each other using all the channels available. Learners suggested “It’s hard to stay connected when you have a demanding workload, but many have chosen to network through social media and LinkedIn, and were enthusiastic about the value of this.
What are your top coping tips for studying during the pandemic?
At the top of the list was the advice of self-care, with one learner advising to practise mindfulness and get outdoors. As another learner puts it, “Stay calm and always smile and laugh!” and another emphasised to “make yourself a study space and use only that, it becomes a safe place”.
Sharing their studying tip regarding switching between assignments, another learner said, “If I find I’m struggling with one, I like to have a break and do a different one and then go back”.
Despite all the challenges, the crisis has provided the opportunity for more flexible learning solutions that make better use of distance learning and digital tools such as webinars and E-learning.
Access Skills, values all its learners and employer client relationships and have been determined to continue to provide support effectively throughout the Covid-19 period. Our Track record and feedback from learners about supporting learning programmes flexibly and remotely gives confidence that our learners personal development and qualification ambitions will continue to be met.