How do you fit studying in around your life? | Coursera Community
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How do you fit studying in around your life?


Userlevel 7
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I'm so amazed by how so many of you find the time to take courses alongside busy lives, work and family. I've started several courses and have quite a few more I'd love to take but I still haven't managed to actually complete one.

If any of you have strategies that really help you out, please share!

11 replies

Userlevel 3
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A great question about making choices.

My method is to put the course on my schedule so that I can be reminded, make plan and not get distracted when the time comes. It has worked pretty well for me. So far, I have completed about one course every quarter, as much as I can enjoy learning without stressing myself out:-)

I also have many courses in the wing, and I have to decide what I can do realistically. I am just as happy as can be, learning in different ways that Coursera offers, whether enrolling in a course, as a Mentor in chosen course(s), or Beta Tester, including testing this new site.
Thank you Claire for starting this thread. It really is a tough one to answer for busy people. I only discovered MOOCs while I was going through a health problem, during my recuperation time when my time was rather flexible. Up until then I did not even know they existed and I am not sure if I could have fit them in in their Old platform style, when quizzes were every week with deadlines. However, having discovered their value, now having the flexibility in Quiz deadlines in Coursera's new current platform enables me to follow certain courses, by fitting them to my breaks at times. I usually squeeze them into my weekends or late evenings as much as I can.
This is such an important question for many people. A busy life usually means you feel tired and would prefer to just relax and not take a course. Bu then you feel unproductive and frustrated that you started a course, but you never finished it.Making a routine out of something is most helpful. Think of a time every day that you will have some free time. It could be really early in the morning before your family is up, it could be commuting to work, it could be when everyone in your house is asleep. Choose a time when you know you have a few minutes. Then you must keep to it and not give yourself excuseas as to why you can’t. It must be as routine as combing your hair every day!
Hi Claire. Great topic! In my experience, breaking a task down into small pieces is helpful. Spending 15 minutes per day is far more doable than spending 1 hour. I think watching a single video or doing a quiz per day could be manageable for everyone.
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I suppose thirty minute assignment will do. Take a break and reflect the assignment.
When I teach people how to play flute I always tell them to keep the flute out, don’t put it away till it’s bedtime. Only practice 10 minutes at a time. If you are a beginning flute player you don’t know how to control the air going into it. To try to get a better sound you blow harder. When you blow harder you hyperventilate and feel dizzy....so small practices over a period of time work best. Hmmmm....how does that compare to taking a course. What do you think? : )
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I usually just skim through all the materials in all weeks and get an overview of the course. Usually most courses I take have interesting assignments which make me want to do those assignments. I mostly do courses on weekends, but I believe having a morning routine of half an hour to one hour learning session can improve my learning experience and watching videos in 2x speed also helps to get through materials quickly.
Userlevel 4
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Since my learning style is reading, I often download transcript and make a word / pdf/ mobi/epub file . Then I upload it in my most commonly used devices - mobile/Kindle/ iPad and have them handy all the time ( my flutes @Judith ). By reading I am able to finish courses faster compared to watching videos. If I like the course, I try to complete Quizzes and assignments, else they are audited only.
I do read course info to get some idea what will it contain, after 1st week either I drop it or decide I will complete it , often solo, occasionally I complete it with some friend. A few videos to decide if I want to read/ watch.
I also pay attention to what topic is of my current interest. Like, if I am talking to a lot of people who are into startup, to understand them I took Lean method and Six sigma, Fintech course. Similarly while block chain was everywhere in the news, I took up that course. My all time favorites are Philosophy/ Psychology, so I enroll in most of them, keep learning at my own pace, once I am done with material, I start completing assignments and switch session to do the rest.
Userlevel 1
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I'm currently doing a college course on Mental Health Awareness as well as a training course for a charity for pregnant women/mothers. I also have a 2 1/2 year old and I help around my neighbourhood as well. I think the key to finding time is to find something you love, and make time. Schedule ahead. It doesn't always work because life gets in the way, but think of it as time for you, for your brain. It's a self-care task essentially, like taking a bath. You'd make time for that, so you can make time to study.
It depends on what you mean by "completing" a class - I will often take quizzes in a class I am interested in, but will frequently skip the peer reviewed assignments. I count it as successfully completed if I have gotten what I wanted from it, which isn't necessarily a green tick by every item in the queue and a certificate. I will also not necessarily strive for the highest score possible on the quizzes, if I miss an answer I will go back and figure out why I was wrong and what the right answer should have been, but I won't always bother to retake the quiz to get a higher or "perfect" score
In my experience, I schedule it in or it doesn't happen. I plan to go to class just like I would if it were an in person class that I was physically attending. i find that if I just do it "when I have the time", I never do it. I allow for time to take notes and schedule times for review of those, too, so I get a good grip on the material being covered. I may go a bit faster than the assumed schedule, if it is a topic that I have some familiarity with already, or if it is completely new I may take a bit longer than the assumed schedule, but generally I figure on doing about one module a week.
I actually prefer the hard deadlines from a "live" class, I am more likely to feel the need to do the work that way. The current platform just allows me to put it off, and off, and off indefinitely. I think a little pressure to complete can be a good thing.
Userlevel 2
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Hi Claire and community members,

My experience with MOOC is still less than a year, but here is what I have been doing so far.

I make sure to enroll in a class that I have a good reason to do so. The subject could be closely related to work or (broadly defined) personal goal. Of course, it is very tempting to look around other classes, but I will simply add them on my list for future enrollment. I try to avoid hopping different courses.

With a full time job, I limit the number of classes I enroll at the same time to maximum of two. Four was way too many, and three was still too much. When the work load becomes heavy, my attitude becomes getting over the material rather than learning.

Mixing different subjects helps. As a broad rule of thumb, I try to simultaneously take courses that are not closely related: work related vs. non-work related, quantitative vs. non-quantitative. When I am stuck in a class, the other class can become a "break" for learning.

The nice thing about MOOC is that most of lectures last about 15 minutes. So, I often study work related subjects at my office, by coming a bit early to work or using my lunch time. For this, i need to limit my study time, otherwise I can easily spend far more than planned. Other than that, I put in my schedule to spend a few hours on weekend.

Whenever possible, I treat the deadline of the course as a guideline. Otherwise, my goal of taking the course could easily change to simply complete it rather than learning. The biggest advantage of MOOC is to learn at your own pace.

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