Online learning has become an increasingly popular option for many people, whether that’s for students taking online degree programs or educators seeking professional development, such as the upcoming ILA Next professional learning event. Al Virtual learning offers flexible, convenient learning, but it also requires discipline, motivation, and effective organizational and time management skills. Here are eight tips to help you make the most of your online learning experience no matter where you are in your learning path/journey.
1. Set clear expectations
Ensure that you have enough time to dedicate to your course and that you can consistently attend all aspects of the program, including any live teaching sessions. Aim to dedicate the same level of commitment and attitude toward your learning and task completion as you would to a regular, in-person course.
2. Check all technical requirements
Make sure that you are aware of all the technical requirements before committing to starting an online course, including any specific software or hardware equipment that you may need. If your course has assignments that need to be turned in, investing in a physical or cloud-based back-up system might be worthwhile. Try to back up your work regularly, including saving study materials so you can access them offline if needed, to avoid any mishaps.
3. Have a stable, reliable internet connection
A reliable internet connection is vital. You want to avoid being disconnected, especially during live teaching, such as webinars or workshops.
“You can invest in extra modems or signal boosters to help improve your home internet connection. It’s also worthwhile connecting your computer directly to modem, rather than relying on Wi-Fi, which can be less stable,” says Jerry Wright, a blogger at Write My X and Next Coursework.
4. Designate a study area
Your study area should be conducive to your learning. Ensure that you have both sufficient lighting to avoid eye strain and a comfortable chair and desk to avoid any discomfort. Choose a space that is quiet and where there are few distractions and chances that you will be interrupted.
5. Get organized
Organization is key to successful online learning. Creating a study plan will help you meet deadlines and work around your existing commitments and responsibilities.
“Create a calendar which includes all your deadlines and important course dates,” suggests Catherine Olsen, a psychologist at BritStudent and Australia2Write. “Then create a realistic weekly schedule that you can stick to. Make sure you factor in some extra time for any unexpected delays. Setting yourself time limits can help make study sessions less daunting and more manageable. Equally, to-do lists can be a great way to help you to become more efficient and stay on top of your tasks.”
6. Schedule regular study breaks
Taking study breaks will help you concentrate on your learning. Engaging in some gentle physical activity, such as going for a walk outdoors, can help you to feel reenergized and return to your studies with more energy and focus. Try to take a break away from your study space and, if possible, avoid looking at screens during these breaks.
7. Reward yourself
Rewarding yourself with something you enjoy doing can be a good way to keep yourself motivated. Whenever you reach a set milestone or accomplish what you had planned for a particular study session, reward yourself with something positive. By training your brain to recognize that learning will lead to positive rewards, you will be more motivated to keep going and will enjoy your studying and all the successes along the way much more.
8. Participate in online discussions
Online learning doesn’t have to be—and shouldn’t be—a solitary experience. Take opportunities to engage with fellow learners during online discussions or group activities. Remember to be courteous and mindful of your tone when communicating online. Avoid using sarcasm and write in clear, full sentences to avoid misunderstandings. These engagements can help you get the most out of your course. Swapping contact information with other learners can help you develop a personal learning network that persists beyond the current course.
These eight tips can help you make the most of your online learning journey and reap the rewards of your effort and hard work. Whenever you feel frustrated or lack motivation, remind yourself of why you chose to begin online learning. Remember to celebrate your achievements along the way and to enjoy the experience.