When you sign up to a live college course or a live course with a private provider, having to attend live classes with your peers is a natural motivator: you know when the classes are going to take place and, as you make other arrangements to make sure you can go. Often coursework is set in the sessions with separate deadlines for each piece and that can make it easier to complete. 
However with distance learning, you’re likely to have far less tutor contact (which is one of the reasons distance learning is so much less expensive than face to face learning), have to manage your own time and your own motivation. 
Since COVID, the popularity of distance learning has increased hugely. The Chartered Institute for Personal Development (CIPD) reported data on the usage and incidence of digital learning, suggesting its prevalence in the workplace has steadily increased. It was used by over half (57%) of organisations in 2020 (pre-pandemic), compared with 29% in 2015. Now distance learning is more popular than trainer-led training (36%) and in-house development programmes (51%). 
So let’s look at 6 ways to keep yourself motivated! 

1. Plan your study time 

As and when can work for some, but many of us work better with some routine. Perhaps you’re able to commit 2 hours on Tuesday night and 2 hours on Sunday afternoon to your studies. If so, block that time out, put it on the calendar, put your phone away and commit that time to study. Make sure the people around you know that you’re committed to this and not to disturb you. 

2. Share your goals with friends and family 

Talking about your studies to the people in your life can really encourage you. If you like social media, post that you’ve started a course! Ask people to check in with you! Maybe someone on your friends list has done the same course. If people are regularly asking about your studies, you’re far less likely to quit as you have more accountability. 

3. Join a Facebook group 

One of the drawbacks of distance learning (or for some people, this is a positive!) is that you don’t have a class of peers to see every week or month who are congratulating and commiserating with you! But Facebook has groups for virtually everything in this life.  
If you’re studying on the Level 3 Award or Level 4 Certificate in Education and Training, for example, there are several really vibrant Facebook groups where teachers and assessors with varying levels of experience post to share their experiences, hints, tips and questions. Join some and see what you can gain from them. 

4. How do you eat an elephant? 

A bit at a time. 
This is how you should approach your distance learning course. In The EMG’s version of the Level 4 Certificate in Education and Training (which is a big course), there are 8 assessments (chunky ones); 3 observations (we want to see you teach); 3 reflective journals (you write one after each observation); a project (which is completed over time) and 6 pieces of product evidence. 
These assessments can be done in any order (although it makes sense to stick to the numerical order if you can, simply because that’s the order the textbook is written in!); but the product evidence is made up of documents you’re likely to already be using in your teaching role. They all come with cover sheets, but these take a lot less time to complete than the other assessments. If we have a student who is struggling with motivation, often we’ll suggest that they start with the product evidence because these are quick to complete and you get a sense of achievement ticking off assessments and making progress speedily. Often students are then motivated by the quick feedback they get from us on those, which can spur them on to get cracking on the bigger assessments. 

5. Look at the bigger picture 

Why did you sign up to your course in the first place? Was it something you have wanted to do for a while? Did your boss say you had to do it? Will the course give you the qualification you need to move to your next job or get a promotion? Did you pay for it? What will you lose if you don’t complete it? Make your own list of reasons and refer to it when you’re feeling de-motivated! 

6. Be kind to yourself 

This one is the most important so there are a few parts to this! 
If you’re reading this blog, you’re likely to be an adult learner, perhaps with a job, maybe a family and everything else that life can give us as adults. Throw a course on top of all your other commitments and it’s almost never going to be a walk in the metaphorical park. 
If you haven’t sent in any work for a while, there is no need to apologise to your tutor (unless the work is actually late, in which case of course it’s polite to say sorry!). But if there has just been a bit of a gap between your last piece and the one you’re submitting, there really is no need to say sorry: your tutor will simply be pleased to hear from you and to move you on to the next assessment. Don’t gaslight yourself: sending work in is always a positive thing and there is nothing to apologise for. 
Check your completion date. Don’t sign up to a course if the completion date is unrealistic for you and your commitments. There are plenty of training providers about: shop around and find the one that works for you (this won’t always be the cheapest). If you’re struggling to meet the date, find out if there is any movement on it. Communicate with your tutor! Your tutor wants you to complete as well so speak to them if you need support. 
Don’t take your coursework and textbooks on holiday or away with you if you’re unlikely to use them. Packing them makes us feel good as the intention is always a positive one but it will only make you feel guilty seeing them there in the suitcase if you don’t get around to using them. Holidays are for relaxing! Now refer to point 1! 
Distance learning is here to stay! However you’re taking your current or next course, we at The EMG wish you all the very best! 
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