I have just had my first study school week at Aberystwyth University for my master in Information and Library studies and thought it might be a good idea to blog about it (as I haven’t blogged for aaages) and also to get me in the mood for writing again!
Well after a long, but not too tedious train ride from London I got a taxi to the halls of residence with what I discovered to be a fellow student. The taxi driver was lovely and very informative about Aberystwyth and the Universtiy and, from what I understand, all the taxi drivers were like this! Being back in university accommodation after 6 years was quite strange, but I think Aber accommodation is slightly better with a bigger room and a lovely common area (with what looked like a brand new kitchen!). The rest of my flatmates moved in at about hte same time and we bonded and remained together throughout the week, which was lovely.
Once settled next on the agenda was dinner followed by an introduction by the distance learning team. This included an ice breaker game (which I don’t normally relish the idea of) and saw me singing Beatles songs to what were then strangers, as I didn’t have any other criteria I could meet on the questionnnaire we needed to complete !
After that, the majority of us decided to find the pub and go for a drink. Once found, I felt, a bit like a ski chalet, very cosy and this was another good opportuity to get to know people better.
Second day was when library school properly started. Our first session with Tanya Rogers was a general introduction to distance learning and gave us an opportunity to voice any concerns we may have with studying distance learning and it was reassuring to discover htat most people share the same concerns I have.
In the afternoon we had the opportunity to go on a walking tour of the town. It was very pretty walk along the seafront and through the castle remains and learn about the towns history and I was fascinated to learn that Aber’s population is 9,000 and then almost doubles when the students are around. It was unfortunate that it was extremely windy (we were told it was due to a small hurricane heading our way?!). In the evening we were given the option to attend a ‘Welsh for beginnners’ lesson. I went along as I thought it might be useful to know how to at least pronounce Welsh words, particularly given that my family are from Wales! And boy am I glad I went. Our teacher for the evening, John…., was a brilliant teacher! So entertaining and had really could ways of helping you to understand the language and remember the pronunciations. I would be more than keen to learn Welsh if I was studying here full time.
Monday began with a tour of the library which was unfortunately short lived and didn’t go into great detail about the process and use of the library for distance learners, but it was good to see the functions of another library all the same. This was followed y our first proper lecture which was regarding our first module -Information and Society. I now felt properly back in learning mode and although this is the only lecture we will have in support of the module, I felt they packed enough in the help guide us through and give us an idea if what they are looking for.
We then had the opportunity to explore out Virtual Lerning Environment (Moodle). Moodle is something I had heard of but never used before. It seems very straightforward and I was pleased to see that it is used highly by students and staff seem to use it just as frequently. I think I will be finding this extremely useful to interact with my fellow students, sharing ideas/concerns with them and with staff. It will certainly help us all feel less isolated throughout our studies which I think has always been a concern of mine with choosing a distance learning course.
My first meeting with my personal tutor, Peter Sharpe, followed this. Although it is very early in my studies and therefore didn’t have to many quesitons (I’m sure they will come soon though!) it was nice to meet and get an idea of the kind of tutor he will be. He seemed very laid back and when I voiced my concerns that I may be aiming to high with my completion date, he reassured me it could be done (at a push!!) and to see how the first module goes and take it from there. Peter has done the course himself so I am reassured in the knowledge that he knows exactly what we’re going through. Another bonding session in the pub followed that evening!
Tuesday came around very quickly (over half way through the study school already!). We were introduced to Wendy Shaw, who gave us a lecture on report writing. Although I did a lot of report writing as part of my degree it was really good to have a refresher on the key elements of a report structure. Our next lecture was regarding the second module we take on our course – Studies in Management. I t seems difficult to start thinking about this module now, but it was good to get an idea of what was in store and to again pick up some more tips about what they were looking for. We did some group work discussing what make a good manager and so on and all of us seemed to have good ideas from previous work experience, both good and bad! One assignment is to write a business plan and it was at this point that I felt a bit sorry for myself that I have just left a business studies focussed library that would of been very helpful when it came to studying this!
Tuesday evening held the ‘event of the week’. It has been 25 years since Aber started distance learning courses, and we were lucky enough to celebrate with them. We had a lovely wine reception and meal in the campus Arts Centre. A really lovely building and the view across the sea as the sun was setting was really beautiful. If anyone else reading this studies at Aber and hasn’t been the the Arts Centre, I highly recommend the visit. Speeches were made by previous students of the course and it was reassuring to hear that they were all still working within the sector and enjoying their careers.
Then came the final day. Everyone was a bit tired from the night before and it was a great relief to everyone that we had the first period off (perhaps intentionally?!). Our first lecture was with Juanita regarding our third module ‘Planning for Delivery’. I think this module will prive really useful for future roles in the information sector. This was followed by lectures on citation skills and a quick lesson on reference software, which were both useful refresher lessons and was good to learn about other reference software from Endnote. And that was the final day over. Some of us went for a drink at the Arts Centre after dinner (Aber university has a lot to offer, the Art Centre in particular seems to have a lot going on for students and the community) before retiring to pack ready to depart.
And if nothing else, Aberystwyth University fed us AMAZINGLY well. Too well infact, there was never a moment when I was hungry, if we weren’t in lectures we were either drinking tea with biscuits or eating a big meal and it was all at a pretty good standard! All in all I enjoyed the study school week and look forward to seeing everyone and Aberystwyth, hopefully in April next year, if not September…best get on with all the reading now!