A decade ago online learning was the stepchild of all of types of learning and very few thought it would become a serious contender for the preferable way to be taught. For early adopters like Thomas Rollins teaching online was easily identified as the future. And he was right, because here we are a decade later and every university and trade school worth its name has online learning courses and an online learning division that is the fastest growing part of its school.
Also businesses have jumped fully into the mix, offering e-learning courses to their employees to continually keep trained on everything needed to ensure their efficiency. It certainly is a new world for learning.
Being a student in this world takes a different set of skills and requirements to be successful. Here are some of the key attributes and approaches you need to utilize to make online learning the most effective for you.
Manage Your Time
E-learning takes a high level of discipline because you are in charge of getting yourself to classes, policing whether you do the associated work and making sure your really are doing all you need to do to succeed. In regular learning environment this mostly falls on others but part of the freedom associated with online learning means you also have to take responsibility for these things. You have to commit to the time and focus needed for your learning and you cannot allow other issues to take away from your learning time. If you are in a typical learning environment and you miss classes or your focus falls off, the instructor will see it and probably talk with you personally about your drop-offs. With e-learning, this will not be the case. So if you find yourself time challenged to make classes and do your work, you need to set a rigid schedule for yourself and stay committed. No excuses and no missed classes unless there is a real emergency.
Create a Specific Area in Your Home to Work
The need for you to have a dedicated space to learn cannot be overstated. It will give you a place to get attend classes and study and you can have all of your learning tools laid out there and always handy. In the event you either simply do not have enough space or you have small kids who overrun any space in your home (especially if they know it is your own personal study space), improvise and keep all of your work tools in one location (perhaps a back pack). When it is time to do your work, you can unpack where you can make the space (this may be your kitchen or even on the train to work), and get yourself mentally ready. The idea is to give yourself a professional environment to learn.
Create Support Groups
Although most of your classmates will be in different places, a great thing to do is to connect with them away from class. If they are within driving distance it may not be so bad to physically connect with them, but chances are it will have to happen online just like your classes. All online courses offer forums or other ways to connect with fellow students. This is a great thing to do because in addition to you being able to have others to discuss the coursework with, you can also gain a support group to encourage you through to completion of the coursework. Remember, you gain more confidence in numbers so having someone else who understands what you are working through will be a big boost for you. So, connect with others and create support groups.
Ask for Help if You Need it
If you see yourself slipping in your class or on your commitments to study or get to class, you should immediately reach out to the e-learning organization, the instructor, and even your support group for help. This is why they are there and you will not be the only one having these issues. But you do not want to be the only not asking for help.
Welcome to this whole new world of learning. It is fun, exciting and can lead you to new adventures in learning.