Reflections from 3 Months of Distance Learning on Coursera

It has been a few months since graduation. Due to the onset of the COVID-19 Pandemic, I was unable to have my graduation trip. With my job offer just recently attained back then, I needed to find some time for productivity. It was also during this period where NTU had a new collaboration with Coursera and I decided to give it a try. Here are some of my insights and reflections. This post is not going to be so much on the content which I learned, but my general views on online learning.

Opportunity to Learn Interesting New Content

Less the Chinese course which I took as a quick refresher, I took a total of 9 courses on Coursera from 4 Universities (HEC Paris, IE Business School, John Hopkins University and Yonsei University), spanning topics in creativity, innovative management, marketing, retail management, data science and Korean.

Some of these topics were not readily available in my home university at NTU, or just really hard to get a spot in as I have already exceeded the unrestricted electives requirements by a lot and I would be last to get the spots.

By signing up for courses through distance learning, I gained exposure in more areas than I would have done in university.

Time Management in the Absence of Formalised Assessments

Being online courses which were paid for by the NTU or Coursera, there was not really a lot on the line for me. I had the opportunity to learn about various topics in my own time. While that was a really nice incentive, it was also a double-edged sword in the sense that there was no push to complete as many courses as I could. I had initially signed up for 16 courses, which was a really ambitious attempt.

It was not too hard to keep pace at first when I was still at home, waiting to commence working life. However, as work commitments started to pour in, the absence of an actual space to learn and formalised assessments gave rise to procrastination and ultimately the completion of less courses. (Completed 3 courses while in the working world!)

One way to manage was to ensure that I set aside 5-6 hours per week on the courses, which I managed to set into my weekly calendar and this taught me about time management, especially in the working world, where we no longer have the luxury of just taking courses and acing our examinations.

Distance Learning as a Possible Format to Learn in Future

Learning online also let me think about distance learning as a potential format to learn in future. If there is one thing the pandemic this year has done, it brought the world closer together. In the short span of 9 months, I had the chance to experience the teaching format of 4 Universities in 3 Continents. This gave rise to the potential exchange of cultural views through various peer reviewed projects, and we had heated debates through our different world views.

Ultimately, distance learning has made me realise the importance of lifelong learning. There is so much knowledge in the world which I do not actually know. With this, let’s all prospect on as lifelong learners!

If you liked this post, do read the follwing post on the skills required for the digitally transformed economy: