I'm sitting there, in the library; I want to carry on studying, but each time I try, my attention wanders. I yawn. It's 3pm, I've been here for little more than 4 hours, and already I'm too exhausted to carry on. Life didn't used to be like this, and I hate it.
People think depression means feeling sad, but it's much more than that. Tiredness and lack of concentration are big symptoms of depression. Studying when life is like that is incredibly hard. Difficulties remembering things are a symptom as well... not exactly useful either.
One of the things I've learned from studying my first module is how to deal with these challenges. Lots of tea breaks; studying in the mornings, and at the start of the week, when I'm least tired, have been important. But there is another problem I wasn't expecting: interactive content.
I know that, for lots of people, video, audio, graphics, and activities are great ways to learn. But, for me, they're useless. Watching video clips, or listening to audio, I just don't take in the information. Interactive activities are just as bad, because I find them confusing – it's hard to make sense of something if you can't see it all at the same time and can't remember the bit at the top when you scroll down.
Like I said, this isn't a challenge I expected, but it has taught me one thing: transcripts are needed. Like, I assume, most people, I'd always assumed that transcripts were there to help screen reader users – often visually impaired people who struggle to access visual content. But it turns out, they're just what I needed to.
By using written alternatives to visual material, I can take my time reading through the information. I can use highlighters and page markers to track where I'm up to, and I can make notes and annotations to help me learn. None of that is possible with multimedia or digital content, and it makes my life so much harder.
What's the point of this? I don't know really. I'm pleased that I've learned – and am still learning – ways to learn that work best for me. That said, I'm also concerned. I'm a self-confessed tech geek, but I think it's important that, in a push towards ever more interactive learning, we don't lose sight of the fact that we all learn in different ways. Sometimes, the old-fashioned written word is still best.
Photo by Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash