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Distance learning skills are learnable

Distance learning requires students to have a strong ability to self-manage and adopt new ways of doing things. Social contacts and the right amount of leisure time are also part of the daily life of distance learning.

  • Text Jonna Myllykangas
  • Photos Varpu Heiskanen, Mostphotos and FinUni Photography

In the last 18 months, the coronavirus pandemic has made distance learning somewhat of a norm in almost all education levels. In the national surveys on students, the respondents often mention lack of motivation. During distance learning, staying motivated clearly has been challenging.

So how do you maintain your motivation for distance learning? And what does lack of motivation mean anyway?

“From an individual point of view, lack of motivation is actually lack of direction. For example, first-year students have so little knowledge of their field that they may have difficulty identifying where they should be heading in their studies," says Päivi Atjonen, Professor of Educational Science and Adult Education at the University of Eastern Finland.

Planning is important for finding the right direction. Studying in a goal-oriented manner requires the ability to manage your time and prioritise.

“You have to plan for longer periods at a time. Not just for tomorrow or the day after, but for the long term, as well. This is challenging when you are new to the university. In upper secondary school, you were so used to the teacher making the schedules that you did not feel the need to manage your time.”

You need to actively establish social contacts and not think too much about being solely responsible for your own happiness and in control of your life. It is important to see past the loneliness and the end of your nose, and be aware that together we can get through it, and that the teachers, tutors and personal study plan supervisors are there for you, as well.

Päivi Atjonen


Päivi Atjonen
"Hopefully, we will be able provide a lot of contact teaching at least to first-year students so that they can build relationships with other students and get off to a good start in developing their learning techniques", Atjonen says.

Learning how to be goal-oriented and self-manage will be useful skills for the future. After all, these are skills that you are expected to have in working life.

Päivi Atjonen


Studet working with computer