Ok, so you chose online learning as a more flexible choice. Being a full- time worker with family responsibilities, you don’t have time for a face-to-face class. You chose an online course or program specifically because you don’t have enough time. So you log on and see the course outline. You are surprised to see a long list of readings and deadlines for several reports! You now have doubts whether you will really learn, or if you can accomplish course requirements.
If this sounds like you, then don’t worry. If it’s your first time to try online learning, it is expected that you will need to adjust. To maximize your online learning experience, here are some suggestions as you start out:
Have the right mindset
Online learning is is different from face-to-face learning. It is more flexible and personalized. However, flexibility is not equivalent to slacking off. Just like in any type of learning, it will require effort and focus for you to get its maximum benefits. Online learning is mainly self-directed. This means that you have to plan your own learning path. You have to take charge of what you need to do and how to accomplish them.
To help direct your learning, you have to set goals. Ask yourself, what do you really want to learn? What topics are the most important to you or most practical to learn? Assess your needs so that you come up with the right goals.
Read the course outline and make a learning schedule. Make sure to write down deadlines for assignments or reports. Plan for a realistic amount of time to read, research or write. Make a schedule and stick to it.
Have a consistent workspace
To maximize your limited time, your study environment should be conducive to learning. It should be quiet, clutter-free and organized to minimize distractions.
Understand basic requirements
Do you have a reliable internet connection? Does the course require a certain version of Windows, or software like Microsoft Office Word, Skype or Adobe Reader? Did your facilitator require an email account? Make sure that you have the necessary hardware and software required to access or send out information, and connect to the course page.
If there are things you need help with, ask your teacher or e-facilitator right away. One of the best things about online learning is that there are many ways to connect anytime: email, Skype, text, Instant Message, and many others.
Connect with classmates
In online courses, you usually join the course forum to connect with other students. This is a great way to air your views, share what you have learned, and ask questions. This will greatly boost your learning and help you formulate ideas. Also, knowing what your classmates are doing can stimulate your own learning.
Explore the Web
It helps to be constantly online when you can. Continually explore the internet. Learn about helpful apps and websites. You can supplement and enrich your course by using various apps and sites. Try using social media like Twitter and LinkedIn to ask questions, gather related materials, and even connect with subject matter experts. Also, constant use and familiarity with the vast resources available will make you more comfortable and adept with technology. Soon you’ll find that learning online is just second nature to you.
Sources: Five-step strategy for student success with online learning, Debbie Morrison, Online Learning Insights; Getting the most out of your eLearning course: 10 study tips for online learners, Chrostoforos Pappas, eLearning Industry. Both accessed June 29, 2017.
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