My Guide to Open Learning Study

If there’s anyone who knows how hard it is to study an Open Learning course independent of classmates and tutors it’s me. When I started looking into interior design courses I discovered that all the MA programmes (in London) were far too research and theory based and didn’t really cover the fundamentals. I also needed a course that would allow me to work full time. I found my OPEN LEARNING DIPLOMA was perfect for what I needed. Now on project five (out of six. Six being the finale) I am well on my way to completion.
My Alice in Wonderland concept for a residential project
But it hasn’t all been plain-sailing. Through blogging I’ve met some amazing people who have asked me “HOW DO YOU STAY MOTIVATED?”. So here is my guide to getting through the course…
My course material: Image supplied by KLC


Make sure you use all your resources! It’s inevitable that you will have a load of resources at your disposal which you may not have even used yet! When I get stuck on a particular topic I tend to email the tutors at my school. That way I have something in writing that I can read over and refer back to on later projects. By visiting creative places such as the V&A can help you understand the history of design (great for the History of Style notebook which I have to produce). See if your course offers 1-2-1’s. Mine does and I’ve used them to help me go over specific parts of the course. I also have some saved up to use during the final project. Also attend the end-of-year graduate shows. These are great sources of inspiration and it’s a great opportunity to see what other design students have done.


If there is one thing you need it’s passion! If you’re passionate about what you do, it won’t feel like a chore and it will be a pleasure to do. Once you enjoy what you do you’ll get that drive and determination to persevere till the end.


Too much of a good thing doesn’t always produce good work and as a result we all need a break. Even outside circumstances have caused me to take a break from my course from time to time. Open Learning courses in general are designed to fit around your personal life and commitments and so if a break is needed…TAKE IT AND DON’T FEEL GUILTY!
Sample Board for residential project

Once you’ve had a well deserved break and dusted the dirt of your shoulder, don’t stop! Get back on track and continue – DON’T GIVE UP! You’ve come so far and it’s a shame to let all that hard work go to waste.


Sometimes no matter how much you read, then re-read the material it just doesn’t sink in. This can be so frustrating! When I’ve been stuck on a topic and just can’t get my head around it I’ve enrolled on a short course that can help. For example, to help me understand window treatments better I went on a WINDOW TREATMENTS short course. I’ve also recently just finished a SKETCHBOOK SHORT COURSE to help me develop my sketchbook further and loved it. 
Colour-matching sample board


In every sense of the word – get out and socialise. Sometimes you get the best ideas when you’re out having a good time, relaxing and not stressing about the course. Getting social also means getting out to museums, trade shows and events. I recently attended the V&A LATE event which mixed creativity with a great night out.


Although my course has no effective deadline, there are no hand-in dates and no pressure, I still think it’s important to have a deadline and a goal to work towards. With each project I’ve given myself a deadline and time frame of which to complete that section. That way I can stay on track. 


I hope you like my guide to studying independently. Has this article helped you? Do you feel motivated or are there any questions you’d like to ask me? Get in touch and leave your comments and I’ll see if I can help.

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