Jenny is a postgraduate Education student who teaches 3 days per week in a school 50 miles from Sheffield. She also regularly drives to her home city – about a 90 minute drive – with her husband. She estimates that she studies from home 85% of the time (“I have all my college work saved on MY SHUSPACE so I can access/edit anywhere”) and makes “very few library visits…my dissertation is about Virtual Learning Platforms so I wouldn’t would I”. If she needs printing resources she will “stay late at work” rather than come to campus. Her only visits to campus are for occasional briefing sessions (“just leaving home for city campus. tutorial this afternoon.”), to “do a presentation to other MSc people” about twice a year, and attendance at “any seminar, focus group or open day irrespective of subject/content, that merits a free lunch…ha ha ha”.
Jenny gets a lot of informal support for her studies from a number of sources, online and face to face. Online she regularly corresponds with a blog author who she describes as her peer tutor and someone “at the cutting edge of literacy/new media education technology; I use his writings as a springboard and source of crucial information…[he] is not my supervisor…this man however, patiently and promptly responds to emails and questions”. She also uses travel time to talk to her husband about her dissertation and to catch up on reading (“Going [home] 4 a funeral. 2 lovely free hrs 2 read Byrom Report”). Reflecting on times where she has used transport for informal learning, she talks about a range of activities. For example, during her first degree she would use journeys home to read text books: “I’d scan EVERY single page, dead quick like, forwards and backwards; if something jumped out at me I’d insert paper (then they invented sticky notes YIPEEE!)”. She would also proofread. Thinking about learning related to non-university life she says: “TRANSPORT has for me been a learning space. As a child I kept log books of journeys across Europe while my dad drove…Also, I worked in transport for 11 years, I used to sit on buses doing passenger surveys, and occupying lots of time…I learnt to knit on the 82c.”.
Jenny does make a distinction between study and the work that she does to support her teaching (“getting lessons for tomorrow’s teaching, not really learnin”; “No college wk 2day. Teaching”; “reading e-mls…work today + cream crack’d. study? learning space? dissertation? as much chance as an Everton win on Thurs”; “I am at home working on computer, not studying today, my brain hurts”). However, being able to take dissertation materials with her, or e-mail them so that she can access them at her school (“email draft dissertation to myself to work on in school. goodnight”; “proof read 3000 wds think I’ll push for a bit longer – finish it in work tomorrow”).
She describes her ideal learning space as being at home with an array of resources and requirements, “with good seating, lighting, desk, SHU portal from computer with 23″ screen, speakers, scanner, camera, phone, email, skype allowing face-to-face tutorial at regular intervals (agreed mutually)”, and says that ideally she would “live near an academic library and learning resource”.