Challenges as an open distance learner

1.   Adaptability

Switching from traditional classroom setting to a virtual one is a totally different experience. You will need to accept the new learning circumstances with an open mind and heart.  You will need time to adapt to the WOU Learning Management system called WawasanLearn and get used to contacting your tutors through online communicative methods

2.   Feelings of isolation

You may feel the physical and temporal separation between your tutor, course coordinator (CC) and yourself and also with your classmates. To overcome these feelings you will need to keep in touch with your tutor and CC regularly and work collaboratively with your class mates to develop a sense of group solidarity.

3.   Procrastination and the temptation to quit

It is   so easy to just put off until the next day that which seems like yet another daunting task today especially amidst the stress of juggling your work, family and study responsibilities. This can lead to a point of total frustration and want to quit. There are different possible solutions for procrastination. Different strategies work for different people. The time management strategies that will be described later can help you avoid procrastination. Because this is a psychological issue, some additional psychological strategies can also help:

  • Since procrastination is usually a habit, accept that and work on breaking it as you would any other bad habit: one day at a time. Know that every time you overcome feelings of procrastination, the habit becomes weaker—and eventually you’ll have a new habit of being able to start studying right away.
  • Schedule times for studying using a daily or weekly planner. Carry it with you and look at it often. Just being aware of the time and what you need to do today can help you get organized and stay on track.
  • If you keep thinking of something else you might forget to do later (making you feel like you “must” do it now), write yourself a note about it for later and get it out of your mind.
  • Counter a negative with a positive. If you’re procrastinating because you’re not looking forward to a certain task, try to think of the positive future results of doing the work.
  • Counter a negative with a worse negative. If thinking about the positive results of completing the task doesn’t motivate you to get started, think about what could happen if you keep procrastinating.
  • On the other hand, fear causes procrastination in some people — so don’t dwell on the thought of failing.
  • Keep a study journal. At least once a day write an entry about how you have used your time and whether you succeeded with your schedule for the day.
  • Get help. If you really can’t stay on track with your study schedule, or if you’re always putting things off until the last minute, talk to your tutor or CC.

In the next section, we will be looking at how you can set goals, engage with your tutor and CC and use online forums effectively.

4.   Lack of motivation

Self-motivation is an essential requirement for ODL learners; however, many students lack it, much to their surprise. After enrolling in ODL courses, many learners fall behind and feel like giving up, as difficulties in handling a technological environment seems extremely challenging. As a student you need to find the motivation to properly equip yourself for oncoming challenges in the handling of your work, family and study life. Only a positive attitude will help you overcome the challenges in an ODL environment. This is hard to practice but perseverance is the key and you need to have the tenacity to go on in order to reap the benefits in the future