Category: Remote Learning

January 4th, 2018 by Suze

In the beginning there was a Facebook ad and the ad said I could retrain and work to build my own business. It said mums like me were working from home, around the school run, looking after businesses’ social media accounts. And I loved the idea. And I wanted to do it. And I started to immerse myself in social media in a way I had never thought of before. Suddenly rather than wasting time scrolling through Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest I was learning. I was researching. In fact much of my year has been spent learning about social media. How it works. How it can work. How business and organisations can use it to great advantage.

Now training with Digital Mums starts in a matter of days and despite seeing the advert 12 months ago, making contact nine months ago and signing up six months ago it would appear I am still not ready. I am still teetering on the edge of being ready. I am all set to talk myself out of this ridiculous idea that I could re-train, set up my own business and make some useful money for our family while still being at home and looking after three children.

As it is I am typing this with Mini Cooper 3 pulling out the power cable to the laptop, hooking her fingers around the keyboard and deleting as fast as I type, and two chimpanzee small boys in the background leaping around while some inane cartoon blares out of the TV. What am I thinking? I daren’t even consider the professional side of this. The side that says ‘drop being mummy for an hour and create something someone wants to pay you for. Yes, it has to be worth paying for, so get your brain together and find work and create and sell and…’ * small brain explosion*

Screenshot from digitalmums.com

And anyway, this is so much more than study. This is where study gets real. As part of the course Digital Mums will pair me with a real-life-proper-bona-fide company that I will work with throughout my training. *mic drop* Suddenly study just got real. This is no longer about picking something I enjoy and trying to get a certificate. It isn’t about seeing how much I can learn in a short space of time or writing an essay just because I feel the need. This is more. This is re-training. This is having others rely on me to make a difference to their business and my family relying on me to bring in some money. And it matters. It matters oh so much to all of us.

Learning how to fly…

In fact it matters so much that in order to do this I have to forget about that. I have to take all the information I am being given and nurture it. I need to grow this creative baby and pour my heart and soul into it. I need to make it one of my own and do it in a way only I can because I want to do it and not because I need it to be great.

Clean Up The F-Word graphic from the Digital Mums campaignEver since I spotted the (very cleverly targeted) Facebook ad I have been drawn to doing this. The year-long wait has only heightened my anticipation. When I look back over the last 12 months I am amazed and really quite proud of the changes we have made. This time last year the family finances were firmly at DH’s feet. Along with a whole heap of stress, no time for the family and a working schedule that would make (and did make) grown men weep. We needed to take back control. So with some savings, a lot of courage and a lot of love we made the leap. We both decided to retrain. Now, at the beginning of January 2018, DH has just completed a 12-week immersive coding course and here I am ready to take on the social media world.

…or how to fall with style…

Over the last 12 months my brain has leapt in and out of overdrive. Trying to work out where this Grand Plan is taking us. Trying to minimise the little voices that pop up every so often saying we are foolish, ignorant, not thinking straight and just plain crazy. And then the idea that we really could change everything. That we really could earn money doing things that we love and do that while looking after our children, between us, together. The adrenaline pumps and I just have to see if we can reach that goal. The brain keeps whirring. The idea keeps strumming. The buzz of life keeps humming and no matter how exhausted I am, the excitement of that potential new reality keeps me going.

Most of the time I feel like I am on a tightrope. I am focusing on putting one foot in front of the other and keeping myself upright. Keeping myself on track. I am fuelled by copious amounts of tea, way too many biscuits and a massive dose of positive mental attitude. The latter of which I didn’t really know I had in me until we started all this. And it is still new. It is a different world. So despite my anxieties and my fears of being found out (that actually I am not very good at this and I haven’t a clue what I am doing) I have to keep going. I have to know where this leads. After all; I could fall, but what if I fly? And if I don’t fly, well I intend to fall – with style.

via GIPHY

 

*Here are some other posts I have written about joining Digital Mums and their campaign for more flexible working options…

Digital Mum to be

Why I can’t wait to get f******* working

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Posted in Digital Mums, Remote Learning Tagged with: , , , ,

A moving graphic of The Great Wave
November 9th, 2017 by Suze

It’s a love, hate relationship. I veer from the thought of studying filling me with dread, to actually doing the studying and loving every minute.

As I come to the end of each unit I have got into the habit of looking ahead. Initially this was to motivate me but now I am halfway through the course I feel a little bit like I am treading water. I am always excited by what’s coming up next, but my impatience means that by the time I have browsed through the study outcomes I am starting to feel the pressure of learning all these new skills looming over me.

Sorry, when?

I am now studying Unit 18 of Level 3 Web Design and Development. Just four more to go after this. It’s a long way to have come in a relatively short space of time. I only started the course in March. It’s a dry unit. I can’t say I am much inspired by learning about networking topologies or the benefits of shielded twisted pair cabling. Learn Direct emailed me the other day to say I had missed an assignment deadline. I had to reply and point out that my next deadline will in fact by October 31, 2018, not 2017. I get it. They probably don’t have students using frantic mummy energy to log in and learn during every spare (and sometimes not so spare) moment they have.

Waving not drowning

I feel like I am riding a wave much of the time. I start out just floating happily along, taking notes. The physicality of a folder full of writing reassures me I am learning something. The water rises as I reach the assignment and I realise I must now prove that I have actually taken something in between the cups of tea, nappy changes and late dinners.

As I wade through the various questions there are certainly points at which I feel like I am bobbing around in the water. Gasping for air. Trying to reassure myself that I am waving not drowning.

Owing to my need to see what’s coming next, I start to read through the next unit before the previous assignment is complete – and so the process begins again. Initially this fuelled my adrenaline. It gave me the energy I needed to keep going.

The need for sleeping

But recently the thought of taking on the next wave is starting to whip up a storm in my mind. I am getting more and more exhausted. Not helped by the 90 minute bursts of sleep I exist on between night feeds. I learnt this week that someone getting between 4 and 5 hours sleep a night, operates at the same level as someone with 0.1% blood alcohol. Where does that leave me? In a state not dissimilar to a daily piss up in a brewery it would seem.

The need for studying

And how do I deal with this state of virtual inebriation? I study. I once again dive in and start making the next set of notes. Somehow I find myself in calm waters once again.

I was never a very strong swimmer but I knew which stroke would see me finish the race first. Maybe that’s the skill. Finding the right stroke and riding each wave. Or perhaps I should just try and ride one wave at a time instead of tackling each one with a different stroke… now there’s a thought 😉

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*Please note that as an Amazon Affiliate I benefit from any sales made through the use of these links. This relates to any purchases made after clicking through from this link – it doesn’t have to be the item shown here.

Posted in Learn Direct, Remote Learning, Studying Tagged with: , , ,

The wall meme
September 21st, 2017 by Suze

I fear I have hit The Wall.

(Which is a shame as it is trying to be a nice friendly wall, look, it’s even saying hello)

I don’t want to study. I don’t want to do it (cue child-like tantrum). I want it completed and gone. I have to do it. But I don’t want to do it. I am in that love it but hate it space.

Every time I sit at the computer I find 200 other things to do rather than log in to my course. I think I am on study burn out. Half of me wants to log in, plough through and get it done. The other half says it’s sunny outside, the house is a mess, leave it all behind and go and walk through the trees.

This is it. This is the wall.

I have been here before, several times. GCSEs, A-Levels, degree 1 (I actually have no idea how I got through that) and definitely degree 2 (I thought I never wanted to see a book, pen or laptop ever again).

The trouble is I have studied every day since I signed up for this web design course. I have logged on Every.Single.Day. and done something. Reading, assignment question, watch a video. I reaped the benefits in the early days and sped through the course. Now it feels like if  don’t log in every day I won’t get it done. I want to keep uptake momentum but I am running out of steam.

Getting ahead of myself

Learndirect called me the other day. Voicemail: “We can see you are on unit 16. That is due in one the err… on the… 1st of September (pause) 2018…. we would like you to email us to confirm you will make this deadline.”

Well, yes, I am pretty sure that with 345 days to go I am going to make it – thanks.

Or am I. This is the wall.

One of the motivational tools used on the Learndirect dashboard is badge system. For every so many hours of study, you get a badge on your profile. For every early morning study, a badge on your profile. For consecutive day of study… a badge on your profile.

I have the badge for 150 days straight. Here it is…Badge for 150 days consecutive study

 

A (digital) Bit of Paper I had to have. And now I have it. I don’t think there is one for total, loony, crazy lady who is continuing to log on every day and work even though she needs a break. (If there is though – can I have it?)

I want to batter it. I want to code those functions. I want my Javascript form to send data to an email address and I want to create real working things out of numbers and letters and typing and for magic to happen on my screen. But if it’s all so clever why can’t I just download it to my brain?

If only.

This is the wall. I better start climbing it before it crushes me.

 

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Brilliant blog posts on HonestMum.com

Posted in Learn Direct, Remote Learning, Studying Tagged with: , , , , ,

A photograph h of me at my Open University graduation
September 18th, 2017 by Suze

This photo was taken two years ago today. In it I am about to get the Bit of Paper. I am graduating from The Open University with a 2:1 in Humanities with Art History. A learning journey that spanned nine years.

I spent much of that day in tears. Not so much because of the enormity of the occasion, but more because of how life had changed in the time it had taken me to get my degree.

A degree of emotion

I already had a degree when I started studying with the OU. I came straight out of school and into uni to study Media and Cultural Studies with English Literature. I studied as hard as I could. I wasn’t a distracted student for many reasons (that’s another post); I lived at home and travelled in each day and hardly ever stayed beyond lectures and seminars.

But I didn’t achieve the result I wanted. The degree (and a whole lot of work experience) got me my first job as a trainee journalist on the local paper. It was all I had ever wanted. But I still didn’t feel I had achieved my full potential (nod to Ninjago :D).

My mum always said if there was a piece of paper for it, then I had to have it. And she was right. A few years later, with several news stories under my belt, I decided I wanted to write an essay. I wanted to write for a reason other than work. So, inspired by my mother in law’s love of the OU I signed up.

Studying with the OU

She Believed She Could So She Did memeAt first I only wanted to study an art course. I have always had a love of art and have always wanted to know more about paintings and artists. It was an interest and this studying was going to be a pass time, so the two seemed well matched. To get any form of diploma in art history I needed to study the foundation humanities course first. So I spent a year studying a range of cultural subjects and passed the foundation (one piece of paper!).

The OU then informed me that if I took another course I could get a certificate in humanities (a second piece of paper!). So I went on, and I did that. I remember opening the certificate and thinking: “There, I have done that now. What shall I do next?”

The problem with that question was that the lure of the OU called. Back on their site once more browsing courses, I found I could turn by certificate into a degree with just a few more years work (she says casually).

And so the degree began and I started studying knowing I had at least three or four years of reading, researching and essays ahead of me. I studied through snowboarding holidays. I studied through weekend’s away with friends. I studied through family trips, planning our wedding and the honeymoon.

Change

I was promoted at work. Suddenly the hours were longer and I seemed to be constantly busy and as I finished my course I found I just couldn’t find my study time. So, as the option was there with the OU, I took a break for a year. It makes me laugh now. I thought I was tired and had no time then. I look at life now with three children and realise I had all the time in the world.

The following October I was ready to study again. But then life was about to change unimaginably. My mum fell ill suddenly and died within four weeks. My mum. My champion. My art loving partner. The one I made proud. Was gone.

Six months later I got married. At the end of that academic year I needed a break, so I took another year out. What had been a three, maybe four, year plan was turning into a monster. But still, I needed to get to the end. Always finish what you have started – another few words of wisdom from mum.

And so it was that started the Level three courses which focussed heavily on specific periods of art history and I took on the self-titled dissertation. I even spent a week studying with the OU on their art history study week (sadly, no longer offered). The OU had changed its fees system by now and the fact was, if I was ever going to be able to afford to finish my degree I had to complete back-to-back courses year after year until it was finished. There were no more gap years for me.

The Bit of Paper

A photograph of me receiving my Open University degree at The Barbican in 2015After the wedding came, well, babies (eventually). Now here’s a time when you don’t need to be thinking about essays and art gallery trips, but for me the determination to finish this degree over-shadowed it all. I read at 2 in the morning on my Kindle. I made notes while I fed at midnight.The children grew. The essays got longer. The dissertation nearly killed me. The love and support from DH held me up and carried me through.

I cried when I found out I had achieved my longed-for 2:1. But nothing like I cried the day I wore that gown. From the moment I arrived at The Barbican until the moment I arrived home, I cried. That was my day. My day that could never have been realised without the love and support of my family. Those that couldn’t be there and those that were, and those that spent their first full day at nursery so I could be there. To you all – thank you.

As I said at the time: “I started a girlfriend and finished a wife. I started a daughter and finished a mum.”

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Brilliant blog posts on HonestMum.com

Posted in Open University, Remote Learning, Studying Tagged with: , , , , , ,

Infographic about what to consider before signing up for remote learning
September 15th, 2017 by Suze

Click the title above to enlarge the infographic. Don’t forget to Pin this infographic and while you’re there follow @minicoopersmum

Posted in Learn Direct, Remote Learning, Studying Tagged with: , , , ,