Coffee shop learning

This week has been rather hectic so we decided to have a leisurely start to the day and take the puppy to the local coffee shop! As we were sitting there discussing what we had on today and I was mentioning that I really needed to spend some time doing some studying. I noticed that in the coffee shop there were at least two people sat working away on their studies.

This got me thinking about some of the key themes in unit one of this module. Thinking about the online learner, who they are and where they study. Also the challenges of being a blended and online learner. They are accessing the course from all sorts of places not just sitting at a desk PC. Where is the best place to study and to learn these days…..

I remember in 2014 listening to a very insightful talk by Alison Head at the LILAC conference. It really does get you thinking about how students do learn and how this is changing. Are they totally reliant on the internet…. one thing that Alison mentioned and it stays with me to this day is ‘going monastic in the library’. Apparently a student quite liked that they didn’t have WiFi in the library- This to me indicated that sometimes the chance to disconnect is important. That you can go to a coffee shop and one minute be thinking about your studies and the next completely distracted by a coffee and have that moment of disconnect. There are blogs which give you tips about how to get the most out of your coffee shop studies (The complete study skills website 2011).

Needless to say the library is not the only place where people study these days. The coffee shop learner seems to be growing in number. But the coffee house culture is nothing new. The coffee shop has long offered a refuge for writers all over the globe, Ernest Hemingway seemed to be particular fan: http://www.leftbankwritersworkshop.com/news/hemingways-favorite-paris-cafes/   so I guess students are drawn to the same qualities that writers are.

One of the challenges of being a blended and online learner is that the materials are always there and you feel the need to engage with them well. However you always face the challenge of time. As an online learner does this fill us with a sense of guilt when you are taking some time out? This feeling that you should be studying…. and now because of technology and access you actually study in most places. Gupta, N. (2004 p.49) talks of a ‘fear of having no purpose’ when visiting a coffee shop. Does this fear/guilt compel us to fill every minute with something productive?

But maybe it is nothing more than the free wifi and the abundance of caffeine!

Gupta, N. (2004) Grande Wi-Fi : understanding what Wi-Fi users are doing in coffee-shops. Masters Thesis, Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Available from: http://hdl.handle.net/1721.1/42341 [Accessed 6th February 2016]

The Complete Study Skills Website (2011) Should you be a coffee shop studier? http://www.study-skills.ca/2011/03/23/should-you-be-a-coffee-shop-studier/ [Accessed 6th February 2016]

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