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How to maximise your GDEP eLearning in a few easy ways

I have students of all ages, and in different parts of the world, enrolled in the GDEP end of life training course - which means I am working with a variety of learning styles and approaches to information processing. Today I share some of the simplest strategies for making your online learning experience better for you and your brain's needs.
Make your notes colourful - literally - and help your information retention.

Use colour to make your notes

Whether you like to colour-code by information category or theme, to highlight particular aspects of your ideas, or to differentiate your various thoughts on a topic, adding colour to your note-taking helps you remember your module content more effectively. I have had students also use coloured post-it notes to mark sections of textbooks and hand-written notes for later review. Plus, you have the fun of making up your own colour system, which is always entertaining.

How colourfully creative is YOUR notetaking?

You can also tweak 'colour' to include texture or size if you are colourblind or need different sensory stimulus for your memory to categorise and link content.

Be creative - it all helps make your own learning experience fun and memorable. Paste fabric into your Handbook or notebook for different modules or topic areas, or paint/draw with ink onto the fabric and stitch back into the page. Personal reflection can be quite organised and formal on the page, or it can involve creative processes which help you both retain information and delve deeply into a topic area.

Be colourful in your thinking, too.

Hand-written notes are remembered better by the brain than typed notes, too - try using different coloured gel pens/inks while you write. Alternatively, you can use crayons, pastels, inks, or pencils to underline, make margin notes or calligraphy, or to emphasise parts of your notes. You can also use double-line spacing for typed content, print it out and use colour to revise, add additional ideas and reference other unit modules that are relvant for you.

Play with video playback speed

You may enjoy your recorded lectures more if you speed up the playback a little.

Many people who have not done online learning - aka 'eLearning' - do not know that in many courses you can speed up the playback, meaning you can take up information faster if this suits your learning style best. Many people who know me are surprised to hear my 'professional' voice in recordings for teaching, because in real life I talk quite quickly. However, some students need slower, clear speech that is well enunciated because this is how they learn best. The bonus of slow, clear speech however, is that when you speed my course recordings up (try 1.5 speed for example) you can still understand me, and take up faster spoken information. Win win.

If you are a student and you haven't tried this speed-up trick yet, give it a go the next time you log in and see if it works well for you. Enjoy!

Play with your study space from time to time

Some of us thrive in a regular environment, and this is often condusive to good learning and work habits. However, just as the modules are different as the course moves along, which helps keep you interested (at least that is the idea), a change of study scenery can help keep your mind and attention fresh, too.

Mix up your study space - try a different room in the house, a cafe, or a shared workspace if you like a vibey and energised study environment.

Personally I like a very quiet work space when I study because noise pulls my attention easily. However, I know other people who do some of their best studying when surrounded by other people - so mixing up where you study and make notes for your Handbook reflections can be a great move for some students. Freelance, shared workspaces will rent desks on an ad-hoc basis, and snacks and drinks may well be part of the package, so ask around in your local area.

Another good idea is a cafe with strong wi-fi signal, but remember to order something to eat and drink, let the staff know you are working, and tip them generously for their time and service while you are at the table for an extended time. Cafes can also act as a treat and a reward - have a nice lunch out, or a gourmet hot drink if these are things you don't do regularly. You will also be reinforcing the idea that study is not a chore or 'hard task', but something pleasurable that you can do for yourself that is positive for more than the information and ideas in the content. Why not enjoy your study journey and perhaps make some new connections at the same time - librarians and coffee shop staff are often interesting people with curious minds. Making friends while learning is a bonus that can have wonderful long-term benefits.

A good compromise between people and noise levels is the oldie but goodie - a local library. If you like to feel social while you work, but not crowded with noise, a library is an ideal study environment. Plus, you are helping to keep a local resource going. Another win-win.

Attend the live QandA sessions when you can

Live QandA sessions mean you can talk to other students as well as myself, ask questions, and get clarification when needed.

There are regular live QandA sessions run by me, some with a theme, others just an open forum for students to talk and engage with each other. Sometimes extra context or information helps us to understand the module content better, sometimes we need an example, and sometimes we want to feel connected in an immediate way to the person who has written the course, and the other students taking the course. Live sessions help us do this.

Live QandA via videocall works for a few different reasons - there are students in several time zones, so live QandA sessions held at different times mean that those in countries outside Australia are still included, and I try to create genuine community whenever possible. Online learning means you can study at your own pace, but live sessions encourage questions, critical thinking, and deep reflection on the ideas and perspectives of others; the QandA sessions are quite valuable for many students.

Some sessions are also open to people who are interested, but want to know more before committing to paying for classes - the live session let you ask questions and get to know me a bit better, and helps you make a better choice about enrolling in my course. I am a big fan of informed choice, as regular Gentle Readers know. A bonus of the sessions is that they are not compulsory, but a value-add of the course. If you cannot attend, no problem - there is always another session coming up soon.

Live sessions have been running fortnightly, but in the new year we will move to weekly as a trial to see if that suits students better, and also leaves space for sessions that are dedicated to people who would like to know more. Stay tuned!

Go to to enrol today. See you soon!

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