Online learning is seen by many as the way of the future. With digital technology expanding the study horizons each day, who can argue? More than a bi-product of cultural evolution, the rise of e-learning is a viable method for established professionals to engage in adult learning.
A current and flexible environment that allows you to study anytime, anyplace and at any pace that is best suitable for you – isn’t that what we all want? If you’re about to enter a digital academic course, there are many best practices to keep in mind.
Maximise your online learning with these simple tips, designed to make a world of difference to first-time e-learners.
While you’re unlikely to be distracted by your classmates, online courses can present several other unique challenges. It goes without saying that you will need to give your studies your full attention if you would like to get the most out of it.
Find a place to study that is quiet and closed-off, removed from family, friends and any other social distractions. Turn off your phone (or at least place it on silent) and keep your electronics in a separate room while you work. While many experts suggest that you keep the music to a minimum, some studies have proven that the right sounds can boost your mood and productivity.
Keep Taking Notes
Although you might not be in a conventional classroom setting, many online learners find that a pen and paper can help them to go the distance. We remember what we write. So taking the time to create notes from what you learn is crucial.
This will not only enhance your understanding but also importantly aid memory retention. And if despite that you still forget, you’ll have a handy hard copy guide that you can refer back to at any stage. This is a fantastic opportunity for online learners to integrate your studies beyond the computer screen.
Organise Your Schedule
Time management is a huge challenge for students of all ages, backgrounds and study styles. If you do not set enough time aside to read over the material, process the information and remember the lesson then you won’t be able to achieve a higher focus on learning.
Without the structure of a physical 1-hour class, it can be tempting to cut corners and breeze through the content as quickly as possible. If you’re hoping to learn project management online in this manner, the bad news is that your short-term gain is a long-term loss.
Study Outside Of Lessons
This will likely be a practice encouraged by your institute to assist you in getting the full benefit of your course. Doing your homework will have a notable impact on your knowledge and gives you the welcome opportunity to apply the lessons you have learned.
Some online courses do offer group study catch-ups which can help to balance your online learning with human interaction. This is a fantastic method to test out the extent of your understanding and compare views with a diverse group of individuals.
Keep Open Communication
Always stay in communication with your instructor. Often, one-on-one mentor sessions are available as part of the e-learning course and this can clear up any misconceptions. It’s also a great way to have all your questions answered in real time.
Open communication with the leaders of your course will provide you with expert guidance on a specific subject matter and make online learning interactive. If your course does not offer a face-to-face method of contact, email your tutor to discuss the possibility of a Skype catch-up.
Take Advantage Of Setting
E-learners come from a diverse range of backgrounds, comparable to the traditional classroom setting. Adult training via the digital channels is becoming increasingly popular, as established professionals look to enhance their careers around a busy work and personal schedule.
Use the flexibility of this online environment to your advantage. The course outline and assignments are usually shared early to allow you to plot out your learning. Decide which assignments are a priority, how your study can fit into your schedule and submit your work ahead of the deadline to prepare for surprise hurdles along the way.
Utilise Your Resources
A wealth of resources is available to you online, just waiting at your fingertips. Education institutes will have their own extensive academic libraries, tutoring clubs and student centres that you can reach out to if you find yourself overwhelmed, stressed-out or just downright lost.
If your online course is part of a wider brick-and-mortar facility, why not visit the campus one afternoon and work in the library? This will help to get you familiar with student learning environments, give your course some context and potentially expose you to new information.
Helen Sabell works for the College for Adult Learning, she is passionate about adult and lifelong learning. She has designed, developed and authored many workplace leadership and training programs, both in Australia and overseas.