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Success in learning is solo-learning, not social

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Friday, 30 May 2014, 06:55

At our level, postgraduate and graduate, 'social learning' far from being of benefit to your studies it is a distraction. Yes, fraternise with fellow students, but don't imagine that 'a bit of a chat' or gregariosness will take the place of the time you must spend on your own with your problems and thoughts. 

For all the effort the OU makes to bring us together, or to generate relationships within tutor groups, far more effort should be given to promoting and supporting your solo efforts - helping you to understand that results are the product of your ability to set aside ample time when you can be on your own, undisturbed and without distraction. And then, on how best to use this time.

Mild panic helps rather than hinders.

I'm reading a new book on education - stress is better than being spoon fed, it matters that you worry you don't understand, that the reading list is too long. By trying to overcome such problems, and tight demanding deadlines that take you out of your comfort zone you form lasting memories, youn engage multiple zones of your brains and draw on your own experiences.

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Jan Dering


It could be said that adrenaline plays a large part in our distance learning; due to the effect it has on our bodies, making our brains super alert. 

However a note of warning.

Stress excites brain cells to death

The cortisol released in stress travels into the brain and binds to the receptors inside many neurons (in the cytoplasm). Through a cascade of reactions, this causes neurons to admit more calcium through channels in their membrane.

 In the short-term cortisol presumably helps the brain to cope with the life-threatening situation. However, if neurons become over-loaded with calcium they fire too frequently and die – they are literally excited to death.

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A fascinating point, though in the typical learning situation we're not surely thinking of stress so great and long lasting that it creates the equivalent of 'shell shock'? Though any response is surely individual too - one person's response to severe stress is different to anothers? The authors make the point of having a balance of 'carrot and stick' and here we are thinking of the stress of tests with threats of punishment for poor results. There is even value seen in rote learning. I happen to be studying the First World War too at the moment - here a huge array of responses to situations is on display, with a significant amount of training, drilling, applied and formal learning, in the field, lecture hall, and in situ.