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1.1.10 Installing Adobe Reader

Adobe Reader is available here.

If you do not yet have Adobe Reader installed in your machine, you can download the software at http://www.adobe.com/products/acrobat/readstep2_allversions.html.

When you have installed the Adobe Reader you will be able to open the learning_styles.pdf file that you saved on your computer in the previous activity.

Use My Computer to locate this file, which you saved on your computer's hard disk.

If you followed my earlier instructions exa
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1.1.9 Managing files

Another important skill when working electronically is being able to find files that you saved on your computer's hard disk.

Here are some tips for overcoming problems with file management:

  • Give your files meaningful names: ‘notes on studying online.doc’ rather than ‘notes.doc'

  • Use folders to organise your files.

For example, I created the following folders for this unit. In My Documents I created a folder
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1.1.8 Useful links

Here are some useful links to sites relating to ergonomics and to information about using and setting up your computer.

  • What is ergonomics? Find out at the Ergonomics Society website.

  • Health and Safety Executive home page, which is the entry to the HSE website. Within this site is a useful page that provides an alphabetical list of HSE documents including ones on Risk Assessment, Manual Handling, and Working with VDUs.


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1.1.7 Comfortable and safe for one, but not for all?

There may be many users of a single computer in your house, and each person is a different shape and size. This means that a single layout of the work area may not meet the needs of all of the users. If you have an adjustable chair or desk, it is sensible for each user to adjust it to fit them when they come to use the computer. You may find it helpful to mark the chair or desk to show the most comfortable settings for each person.

You may need to place the monitor on top of something t
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1.1.6 Creating a comfortable working environment

The following suggestions concerning working with visual display units (VDUs) come from the 2003 Health and Safety Executive leaflet Working with VDUs.

  • Adjust your chair and VDU (Visual Display Unit) to find the most comfortable position for your work. As a broad guide, your arms should be approximately horizontal and your eyes at the same height as the top of the VDU.

  • Make sure there is space underneath your desk to move your legs fr
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1.1.3 Health issues of studying online

Won't studying at a computer be bad for my health?

Studying at a computer can affect your body. In particular, it is known that working at a computer display has the following health risks:

  • Eye strain: Working at a screen causes you to stare more intently at a small area than you would under other circumstances.

  • Upper limb disorders: These are sometimes referred to as RSI (repetitive strain injury).

  • Hea
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1.1.2 Quiz: Getting started

0 hours 30 minutes

This quiz will help you to become familiar with some of the terminology that you will come across in this unit. It is just for fun. Your answers are not assessed, so don't worry abo
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Learning outcomes

By the end of the unit you should be able to:

  • tackle computer-based tasks more confidently;

  • have an awareness of your preferred learning styles.


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Appendix 1 Action Plan

In writing my assignments, I think I do the following things well:

I am fairly satisfied with:

I need to work on:

The first thing I am going to when I finish this toolkit is:

Good luck!


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12 Further reading and sources of help

Your tutor is the first person you should contact if you are encountering difficulties with any aspect of your studies. If there are any issues raised in this unit that you would like to discuss, you should approach your tutor. Sharing your action plan with him or her would be a useful first stage.

Your chosen place of study may offer a programme of learning skills sessions that should reinforce some of the issues raised here.

Further reading

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11 Conclusion

Just as we have advised earlier, we are not going to introduce any new ideas in this concluding section. We are using it to reinforce what we think our main points are.

Writing essays or reports can be time-consuming; individual assignments tend to focus in depth on specific topics rather than fostering a wider sense of the whole course. However, three or four or more assignments will bring benefits as linkages start to become apparent and the total programme of written work help
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10 Reflecting on tutor feedback

When you have taken the assignment as far as you can, you will benefit more from the feedback from your tutor than you will from further polishing.

  • If you have worked hard to become involved with your subject you will really appreciate having a captive audience. Someone with as much interest in the subject (and presumably greater knowledge) as you, will take time to read what you have written and to understand what you are trying to say.


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9 Letting go

This is the point where you have to make the decision that the assignment is complete and ready to be sent off. It is not always an easy decision to make. Perhaps you feel that there is always room for further improvement or there is something more that you could have done.

At a certain stage, the potential gain from further refinement is not sufficient to warrant delaying submission or to risk impeding progress with your course. Remember, you should be aiming for what is ‘good enough
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8.1.1 Achieving a good polish

Here is a list of indicators you can use to judge your polishing techniques. Most guidance notes given to students include these points, but they are not always followed.

Positive indicators Negative indicators
It is word-processed or clearly and neatly hand-written. The assignment is written on paper t
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8.1 Why polish?

Once you have reached this stage, you have nearly finished.

What does polishing mean, and what does it involve? Imagine polishing a car or a piece of furniture. Why might you do so? Usually, to make it look better, to present it in the best possible light, either for your own pleasure, or to impress others – perhaps because you want to sell it. If it is an object that you value, it is worth making it look its very best: it deserves it. How effective your polishing is usually depends o
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7.4.4 The main body of the text

Presenting an argument

Students generally understand that they are required to ‘present an argument in an assignment’ but can feel unsure about what this means and how to go about it. Is this how you feel? Though an assignment is an exploration of a topic, it requires a sense of direction, of building a case or argument in a logical manner.

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7.4.3 When to write the introduction?

At what stage should the introduction to an assignment be written?

Activity 19

A group of students attending a writing workshop were asked to identify the first task in preparing an assignment. Some answered ‘Writing the introducti
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7.4.2 The introduction of an essay

What is the introduction of an essay and what is its purpose?

Activity 18

Write down your own understanding of the term ‘introduction’ in relation to essays.

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7.4.1 The introduction of a report

The introduction of a report has a very specific role, and the range of approaches you may take is fairly limited. The function of such an introduction is to:

  • outline the aim of the investigation or experiment: list the objectives

  • provide background information in order to clarify why the investigation or experiment was undertaken.


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7.3 Drafting essays

As you may remember from Activity 4, the main elements of an essay are:

  • the introduction

  • the main body

  • the conclusion.


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