Starting your planning
The next step on your study path is planning.
To begin study without planning will probably mean you complete work too soon or end up cramming. A vocational or evidence-based course without a plan will mean you are not prepared or experienced sufficiently for the requisite observations or assessments to take place.
When you begin planning, it is helpful to have to hand the syllabus, study text, index of contents etc for the learning solution you are about to study.
Planning activities should be relative to the type of study undertaken, for example, there is no need to produce a lengthy written plan for a short online learning course where a brief sketch will suffice.
From here, you will be able to identify what subjects and materials have to be covered and how you will cover them (for example, reading, assessment, assignment, workshop attendance etc) before you can then allocate time periods and dates for each section or chapter.
Even if this is all initially a rough idea or aspiration, it is a good starting point and can certainly be modified later on.
Planning for study must incorporate flexibility. There will be considerations such as anticipating:
You will have your own personal preferences in relation to study and you can plan for these. For example, you may prefer not to study early in the morning as you are more of a “late” person.
You may be able to capitalise on travel time, for example, if you usually commute to work and spend time on a bus or a train, this might be a study opportunity. Alternatively, if you travel to work by car, you may find it useful to prepare some audio (tape, CD or MP3) to listen to whilst driving.
Remember the importance of making time to read through the outline of the learning materials, giving attention to how chapters or elements are structured and identifying demanding or more straightforward areas. This will help you allocate your time.
You may need to factor in time to prepare assignments, exercises or evidence. Composing on a PC rather than writing out by hand and then typing up is a constructive use of time.
Also, focus notes around themes and questions rather than making long notes that you do not need. When writing assignments follow any guidance laid down, for example, required word count, format etc. Be concise; once you have written an assignment you can gauge the time it takes for next time.
All of this information will underpin your study plan. Once you factor everything in, you can make an assessment of the time available to you for study, ensuring you allow enough flexibility for commitments and unforeseen events.
From here you can devise your study plan in detail as we will see in our next section.
Pull together a brief list to identify for planning purposes over the period of a month using the following: