Connect with others to learn

Linking up with others in your class or learning group is very helpful. If you attend class on campus, ask others if they’d like to form a study group or be your study buddy. If you are doing your course flexibly or online, it is even more important to connect with others to discuss your experiences and help each other with study.

There are many ways to communicate with your teachers or classmates from a distance. Most TAFE Illawarra courses will use a combination of email, phone, webinars and discussion forums, chat and messages within Moodle.

Connecting with others, either face to face or by using technology, will help support and motivate you through your studies.

A mixed group of mature students are focused on what a particular student is doing, while he talks to the group and points to his computer screen.

Things to do

Join a study group

There are many benefits to joining a study group. When you are studying in a group there is a high chance that the things you are uncertain about will be discussed by the members of the group. Discussing and explaining topics helps you to learn, understand and confirm your existing knowledge and skills.

Through their cooperative, but also competitive, nature, study groups promote critical thinking and creativity as new questions and explanations within discussions are debated.

Working in a study group can eliminate the temptation to procrastinate.

Being part of a study group can you give you a new perspective by introducing you to views other than your own.

You have the opportunity to learn new study skills by observing the different study methods of the members of your group.

A study group can break the monotony of studying alone and help you learn faster. Because of the social aspect of a study group you will always have someone to discuss the topic with when you are struggling.

Participating in a study group gives you an excellent opportunity to hone your people skills, which you can apply when you enter the workforce.

A study group can become a great support network for when you are feeling stressed or for when you need some extra motivation.

Create a Personal Learning Network

A Personal Learning Network (PLN) is similar to a social network, but with a focus on learning. Your PLN enables you to share ideas and knowledge and collaborate around a specific area of interest or vocation with people from around the world.

The benefits of setting up a PLN include:

  • Gaining access to global learning communities and expertise.
  • Having a place to discuss and explore ideas with others and to ask questions.
  • Getting access to a wide range of sources of information and knowledge.
  • Having the opportunity to participate in collaborative learning and sharing.
  • Gaining support for self-directed and informal learning.

When you participate in a PLN you need to:

  • Plan and review your interactions (posts and messages).
  • Make your contributions worthwhile and relevant.
  • Be an active participant in your learning network.
  • Aim to build a sustainable learning network or professional community.

Tools for building a PLN

Understand what online tools (websites/apps) will work best for you and start joining those networks. Ask your teachers what platforms they find useful. Some ways to start building your PLN include:

  • Subscribing to blogs and online newsletters.
  • Setting up a Twitter account and following leaders in your industry area.
  • Starting your own blog.
  • Joining an online community.
  • Attending webinars.
  • Using a bookmarking curation tool (e.g. Pinterest, Diigo and Delicious).
  • Creating or joining a Facebook group.

Getting started

  • Join a network and fill out your profile – provide as much information as you are comfortable sharing so people can get to know you.
  • Use key words in your profile that describe your interests. This will help people who have similar interests find you.
  • Lurk (or watch) for a while when you join a new network so you can get familiar with the environment before you start interacting.
  • Follow people that share the same interests as you to build your network.
  • Join some groups or follow relevant hashtags (for Twitter in particular).