The event to be described below in this paper is titled “How to Succeed at Writing Applications”. It is an online course offered by the University of Sheffield through the educational platform FutureLearn. The course has not started yet, and the date of its launch is February 6. The event will last for three weeks, and the main goal of the course is to provide learners with skills necessary for becoming an efficient writer of applications of all kinds. I have already enrolled in the course along with hundreds of other learners. There are two main organizers of the event from the University of Sheffield: Pamela Hafekost, who is the Information Systems Manager, and Hilary Jones, who is the PGT/PGR Placement Officers at the Careers Service (Future Learn 2016a). They will be assisted by several other presenters, including Alison Clay, a Careers Adviser, Marcus Zientek who is also a Careers Adviser, and Steve McCarthy, who is a Media Information Officer (Future Learn 2016b; Future Learn 2016c; Future Learn 2016d).
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Since the course will start only in 55 days, I have not had much first-hand experience with it. Hence, I have recently enrolled in the course that I have found while browsing the courses available at Future Learn. This is my third online course; so far, it will be the shortest of all as it will last only three weeks. However, the course does not have a very broad agenda and pursues one main learning goal, which is to inform the learners how they can succeed at writing applications. I have also joined the discussion initiated by the course organizer under the title “What’s your motivation for starting this course?” (Future Learn 2016e). From this discussion, it is evident that most learners have joined the course with the hope to improve their application writing skills. I have the same goal for the course and have already posted it on the discussion board. Besides, I have read the guidelines and introductory materials suggested by the course organizers. Overall, my current role is that of a prospective learner and an active course participant; however, so far, there is nothing to really participate in.
Before reading the introduction to the course and the comments posted by other course participants, I assumed that writing applications were not significantly different from writing any other essay or paper. However, upon deeper reflection, I have realized that applications are not only different from common academic essays or emails, but there are different kinds of them depending on the purpose of the application written. So far, the course description does not provide any information on what particular types of applications will be discussed, but I hope that job applications and applications submitted to academic institutions will be covered in depth. Based on my previous experience with taking online courses through the Future Learn platform, I have high hopes for this course as well. I feel quite optimistic about my personal achievements in this course. The course information states that the course will last three weeks, but it is not indicated how many hours the learners are expected to dedicate to it on a weekly basis. In any case, I plan to devote a sufficient amount of time to the course as I want to master everything it has to offer. The main reason behind me taking part in this activity is the interest in the technique of writing successful applications. I have experienced some difficulties with this type of writing, but, in the past, I mostly attributed them to the difficulties with writing in English in general. Thus, I expect to learn what makes writing applications a peculiar experience and what specific skills I need to master in order to succeed at writing applications. In fact, this course can significantly contribute to the fulfillment of my goals indicated in my PDP. In the future, I plan to establish my own small business functioning in the beauty services sector and targeting international customers. However, prior to doing that, I need to gain the experience of working as an administrator or manager of a similar business so that I would not fail in my role as a business owner. In order to do that, I will need to write applications to get a respective job. Thus, I want to be prepared for that, which is why I have enrolled in this course. On the one hand, I expect the course to be beneficial and provide some valuable information on the process of application writing. On the other hand, three weeks seems to be a short period to teach learners to really succeed at writing applications. Nonetheless, three weeks is a sufficient amount of time to provide basic information and lay the foundation for future improvement of the required skills.
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Analysis of Learning
Since the course has not started yet and there is no agenda describing the learning planned for the three weeks the course is expected to take, it is not possible to analyze all the learnings from the event. Nonetheless, it is possible to hypothesize that the course will be oriented at presenting the information that could equip the learners with the basic knowledge of applications and skills required to write the applications that would capture the attention of the target audience. Besides, since most learners expect to learn how to write job applications, this aspect is likely to be raised during the course. Another learning that has already been presented concerns the tips on effective learning with the help of online courses. This aspect can be definitely generalized to future learnings as these skills would prove to be useful while taking any other online course through any educational platform, including Future Learn.
Application in Context
Application in Context-General
As mentioned above, the course is to take place in the future, which is why it is only possible to hypothesize about the core learning, i.e. application writing skills. Since the course is organized and presented by professionals with extensive experience in the sphere of career planning and human resources management, I expect to obtain valuable knowledge on writing applications that would impress prospective employers. However, there is one learning I have already gained from the course, which concerns effective participation in online courses. Hence, the event organizers provide links to two articles on this issue, which I have already read. One of the sources is “Crowdsourced Guide to Learning” that provides insights from the learners on their experience with Future Learn (Future Learn 2015). Personally, I agree with one learner’s conclusion that “The more courses I take and the more I learn, the hungrier I feel for more knowledge…it’s like training yourself to be curious” (Future Learn 2015, p. 10). One of the event presenters also gives six tips on how to benefit from the future course that is applicable to all online courses. Thus, the six tips he provides include filling out the profile, reading only the most important and interesting comments, filtering conversations, following educators and some learners, reviewing one’s own comments, and getting stuck in (Thair 2014). These tips and the guideline teach how to benefit from the participation in the online course.
Personal, Career, Professional Development/Goals
With respect to my personal development and career growth, the first of the two learnings will be essential, as they will allow me to find a desirable job and apply to it with a high chance of being employed. In turn, the second learning will benefit my personal development as it will equip me with the skills necessary to successfully participate in any online course.
Overall, the second learning has been good so far, and I agree with all the tips and views given with respect to it. Studying online without supervision and assessment may be challenging in terms of the high chances of losing motivation. Therefore, active participation in discussions and forums, as well as the establishment and maintenance of close relationships with other participants and educators can provide the necessary motivation. It is not possible to evaluate the first learning, but I expect it to be effective and beneficial.
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So far, it has not been necessary for me to reconstruct my self-concept. On the contrary, I have been pleasantly surprised by the fact that the course provides a comprehensive overview of how learners can benefit from all online courses. Thus, thanks to the course and the new learnings, I expect to be able to write successful applications and benefit from any other online course I will take up in the future.
I have not had a chance to gain all the information offered by the course and apply it in practice. However, once I complete the course, I plan to revise my CV and possibly rewrite it from the start in order to make it more successful and effective. Afterward, I plan to apply to several job postings relating to my future career in order to test my application writing skills and get the necessary working experience that would be invaluable when I finally decide to open my own business.