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Adapting to online learning

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By Kyla James May 21, 2023 - 11:39am Comments (1)

I have recently enrolled in the Master of Nursing graduate program at Athabasca University, and this is the first time learning and completing coursework exclusively online.  One of the reasons for enrolling at AU was because of this, and like most AU students, it allows for greater flexibility to complete coursework according to our personalized schedules.  My schedule involves shift work that includes 12-hour day/night shifts, as I am a full-time registered nurse.  Additionally, I have taken on my first travel assignment this summer which demands further adaptation and flexibility. Due to these work commitments, I plan on taking one course at time as I recognize that graduate coursework can be remarkably heavy!

Items that I have found challenging with online learning are the following:

I find myself jumping around Moodle all the time attempting to get organized for the course.  As a mature student, I like to print hard copies of reading materials that I can mark up and highlight and much prefer a written syllabus detailing the expectations for the course.  This helps me stay organized.  I have found a recommended study schedule as part of my course materials today, which I seemed to have missed in my first 2 weeks of learning! I am grateful it exists, as now I can refer to it as a guideline to help me stay on schedule and complete the required weekly tasks. 

Additionally, I find online networks such as these and discussion forums immensely intimidating and unnatural.  I am very private in my personal life, rarely posting personal information or sharing it on social media.  I enjoy reading and following others; however, seldom do I post my own material.  Asked to post and share material as part of coursework initially prompted a lot of anxiety, as I fear judgement and falling behind others that are so quick to post, especially with my unusual work schedule.  When I get overwhelmed like this, I literally fear logging in and checking the forums, which only further exacerbates the problem!  I just keep reading the materials offline until I muster enough courage to log in and post. Welcome to the world of anxiety if you haven’t encountered it already.  I am slowly overcoming this fear, as I recognize that we are to view learning as a “safe space” and weekly discussion forums/blogs are common avenues for learning and sharing.  The professor, along with other students in the course, has already eased the fear by welcoming me with kindness and support.  I am now familiar with what to expect with the forums, which also further puts me at ease.

This is my first blog entry, and I am learning to appreciate having an outlet to post our thoughts and be informal in its structure.

Thanks for reading, sharing, and participating in this forum Smile



  • Emily Cargan May 28, 2023 - 9:01am

    Hi Kyla, 

    Thank you for this excellent blog post! It can definitely feel intimidating to post on online discussion forums but no one on this course is judging other people's post; instead, I think everyone is grateful to have others to talk to about their own anxieties about taking further education and juggling this with all of their other responsibilities. 

    As shown by this post, you have important things to say and a lovely way of expressing yourself, so just post when you can and know you will have delighted and engaged readers!

    It can take a while to get oriented to online learning platforms. I still struggle finding my way around the AU MAIS 606 site! Just know you're not alone in this. Check under Communications > News and Announcements every week for my notifications as I try to provide a summary of each week's work there. 

    All the very best for now!