I am no stranger to post-graduate studies.   I have put in quite a few good years of my life studying.  It is quite amazing that it seems that the minimum entry-level to the professional ranks now seem to be a Master’s level qualification.

I am sure it will only be another decade where the minimum entry level will be a PhD or D Phil or equivalent.

But this is not the theme of my post today.  The theme is filtering. 

I started distance learning very early in my ‘learning career’.  Back then it was like this:

Get the manuals and textbooks. Get the time-table for assignment submissions.  Write the assignment by hand, yes, computers and PCs where not that prevalent.  Send off the assignment and hope to get a result back, before the next assignment was due.  We had so much time on our hands back then!

I belonged to a little study group.  We were five dedicated accounting students and would meet face to face on a regular basis, be so motivated that we discussed everything under the sun, except for the course work.  So most of the real studying was done at home, ‘locked away’ with my manuals and textbooks, a writing pad, calculator and the assignment brief.

The revolution in online study delivery and interaction has really been phenomenal, but the fundamental principles remain unchanged.  It still takes an inordinate amount of dedication, hard work, frustration, loneliness, passion, graft, etc., to earn the knowledge, in order to pass tasks, assignments, examinations and eventually to earn the certificate to hang on the wall.

So we have moved from ‘live’ study groups to online study communities.  The power of a few people working together, remotely, but online, via email, messaging or a forum is absolutely incredible.  So much data and analysis can be gathered and harnessed very quickly, that information overload is a very real and dangerous consequence.

And this is where I return to the theme of this article, remember it was FILTERING.

One of the key skills to learn very quickly is to gather as much data as possible yourself, have a feel for your subject area being studied; then to have the ability to cut out (filter) the unnecessary and superfluous information being introduced via your study colleagues. 

The next skill is to develop tact and the ability to turn the argument back on track as so much potential exists to go off on a tangent because of all the contributors to the learning community.

I don’t think there is a magic formula in terms of size, composition, cultural backgrounds, prior knowledge, maturity or whatever of the study group.  Any type of interaction will lead to stress, anxiety, misinformation, conflict or a really good time getting to grips with your studies and the learning materials.

The crux really is ‘engagement’ in the process.  Enjoy it, risk shame, share knowledge, acknowledge defeat, learn more, but persevere, above all else.  

And finally, keep the vision and end goal in sight and firmly planted in your mind’s eye.

Good luck.

theMarketSoul ©2010

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