This week I have the lucky chance to enjoy an E-Seminar. I look forward to the seminars all year-long because hey are so helpful and so inspirational. You might guess at some obvious benefits like being more closely connected with the University of London through seminars while engaged in a Distance Learning program, or getting feedback from University faculty and tutors. These points are very important and hugely helpful, but there are some other benefits and inspirations like managing multiple study projects to a deadline, a narrow focus on a topic, the stimulation of new and different questions, being inspired to think in different ways, and working with other students. For me, participation in the E-Seminars is the best inspiration for the second half of the term as I begin to prepare for exams. Preparing for exams is very much on my mind during seminars; May, exam month for my degree program, is getting closer. It is also the cold, dead of winter here and I have been studying hard for several months. A little inspiration is welcome.
I welcome the opportunity to alter my study plan to accommodate this different, facilitated approach to my topics of interest at this time of year. The E-Seminars’ week-long focus on a specific topic is a chance to test and develop depth of knowledge rather than a general familiarity with my subject. It helps me develop a personal perspective on the texts, and reminds me about the specialized vocabulary and professional approach to literature and scholarship I aspire to. I rather like being a ‘scholar’ and embrace the opportunity whole-heartedly. The seminars remind me to think about how I approach a text. I am not just reading anymore, I am reading with purpose!
Reading with a purpose inspires me to think about each text I am reading in different ways. Trying different ‘readings’ of a literary text can feel a bit like a risky adventure. I like to examine different sides of a question. Seminars are the perfect time to experiment. This might sound odd, but it is not even necessary to ‘agree’ with my own various readings; for me the benefit and inspiration is that this stretch opens my mind to different possibilities of thought and consideration.
Different possibilities also become apparent for my study process and habits. When studying in a distance learning program efficient study can be sacrificed to other demands on my time and concentration. Our seminars inspire me to work quickly and to very specific deadlines. The structure of the E-Seminars is great discipline and focus for exam revision time. I have processes like copying seminar questions and responses into a ‘Study Packet’ for each seminar I join. At exam revision time the Study Packets are very handy, well-organized, inspirational set of tools.
The most inspirational aspect of E-Seminars is the chance to work closely with my student colleagues. In every seminar my colleagues add unique perspectives to each task. It is always a pleasure to read with them, and chat about our shared interest in literature, the student experience and our study process during our seminars. I have great sense of suspense and anticipation while waiting to read my colleagues’ fresh, new, insights and original ideas about the text we are studying together. At this time of year, when we are immersed in our primary texts, secondary reading, notes, and exam revision knowing a colleague is a click away with a fresh approach and an insightful comment is my favorite and most motivating inspiration!