Heading back to the classroom as an adult may well be a daunting task, especially if you have been out of the loop for a long time. It may seem even scarier if you are going to be completing an online course and you don’t really know how it will work or what to expect. It may seem very alien from the world of the physical classroom, and maybe you are not as computer literate as you could be. What you need to remember is that online learning is only growing in popularity and that is for people of all ages. Also, with the need for online learning skyrocketing due to the Covid-19 pandemic, new online teaching methods are required and therefore are being produced at rapid rates. People are working round the clock and finding ways to translate traditional teaching methods onto the online learning experience. Many people who started a course in a physical classroom are having to finish the course online because of the pandemic. Also, employers are encouraging their employees who are currently working from home to take up online training. That means if you are thinking about taking up an online learning course, there has never been a better time. So, with all that in mind, we are going to discuss a few ways you can maximize your online learning experience in order to effectively learn your craft.
Manage Your Expectations
Don’t enter into the online learning experience thinking that it is any easier or more difficult than learning in a classroom because it isn’t. The content is the same, and so are the exams. You don’t have to stress about feeling left out in the dark as you will still have the opportunities to speak to the teachers and other students on the course. If you want to succeed online, you have to be just as committed as you would if you were going into a classroom. This could prove difficult if you are not set up properly or have the wrong mindset from the off. You should treat the online course lesson as you would any other lesson. Get up before, have a coffee, get dressed, be prepared. You have to be just as invested in this learning experience as you would learning in the real world. You also have to make the same effort retrieving the material for the lesson. Just because they are e-learning materials does not make them any less relevant.
If you are serious about learning online, if you don’t already have a computer or a laptop, maybe now is the time to invest in one. You can clearly download the software onto a phone for the most part, but a computer is far superior when it comes to e-learning. First, you will be able to see everything better and in much more detail without zooming in. Also, you will be able to interact appropriately using a keyboard and mouse, among other advantages. You also need to make sure your internet connection is reliable and fast, or you are going to have problems keeping up to speed. Ensure that you sit down to the lesson with also the materials you may need, such as a notebook, pens, pencils, calculator, all the required materials advised prior to the lesson. Have that cup of coffee or water ready too. If this is your first lesson, it is a good idea to have tested the online platform that they’re using, whether that be Google Meet or Zoom, etc. You don’t want to get to the computer and realize there is some technical issue, and you are unable to connect just as the lesson goes live. That is not a good first impression at all.
Have a Study Area
You need to allocate a space that is for learning. It needs to be an area that is free from other distractions and allows you to focus and relax. If you have a home office, this is clearly the best place to be, if not then maybe you need to use your bedroom. If you don’t have one, maybe invest in a desk where you can easily get a chair underneath. When you are working, maybe put a do not disturb sign on the door, just in case. Whatever you do, you need to create a space that is dedicated to learning. So, ensure there is natural light getting to you or very good internal lighting. Maybe add a few pot plants, and these can help make you feel calm. Maybe get a shelf and stack things you need close by. The more it looks like a place of learning, the more useful it will be to your enterprise. When you sit down there, you need to think learning.
Get some Headphones and a Webcam
If you really are struggling to find somewhere quiet, then plugging in via a set of headphones is a great way to reduce background noise. They also reduce feedback, so you will be able to hear the lesson better too. A webcam is great when having a one-to-one with the teacher, it is far easier for them to read your facial expressions and body language, which is vital in understanding how you are feeling about the given subject.
Create a Study Plan
It’s all well and good turning up to the lessons, plugging in, and actively listening, but you need to do more than that. First off, you need to plan ahead. If an assignment is due in on X date you can’t start working on it the day before. If you do this, you are likely to fail the assignment and become less engaged in the course overall, and this would be your fault. Therefore, make a note of when all your assignments are meant to be handed in. Then you can effectively time manage. You can do extra modules if you so wish and discuss anything you have issues with, with your teacher. Knowing your assignment due dates are not the only things you should mark into a calendar. Mark in all your actual lessons, and highlight things like exams and assignment deadlines. It would help if you created a to-do list. This will help when you have an assignment coming up as you can mark at the beginning of the week what needs to be done to successfully complete the assignment, like research x or y, or contact the teacher about a certain aspect of a previous lesson. It may help if you create a first draft due date. This will help with timekeeping and ensure that you have plenty of time to improve it. You could set a school-like structure to your studying, say an hour on this aspect, an hour on that, reading this then, and then complete this module before you write some of your assignment. It involves a fair bit of self-discipline to stick to a schedule, but it does mean you will have a much better chance of succeeding. And, if you are currently learning how to become a pilot, for example, you need self-discipline anyway in order to cope with your job. But don’t forget that it also helps to have time away from the learning experience to relax and recharge.
Don’t Struggle in Silence
The teachers are there for a reason and if you don’t understand something, you have to make sure you let them know. If you don’t do this and only ever attempt to find the answers online, then you run the risk of falling behind. Simply asking your instructor is the best way to clear up misunderstandings, and it also helps the teacher understand you better. If you ask in the middle of a lesson, you don’t know how many other people you may be helping by doing this. So be brave and don’t struggle in silence.
Review, Re-read and Revise
To fully come to terms with some of the material, you are going to have to go over some of it several times. Also, going over things will help you remember them and will improve your understanding on a deeper level. Maybe you could create some of your own flashcards, or even create a sort of game, like a quiz. How about making a study group or practice exams with some of your online learning accomplices. They will have alternative ideas about the key concept of the lessons. Also, other people can keep you motivated and striving to do better.
Learning in any form should be seen as a fun way of spending your time. Not only that, but you are doing something that is good for you, and your family. You are opening doors to a better future. Learning has a positive effect on your brain function, including your memory. It should also give you that feel-good factor because you are stepping out of your comfort zone and putting effort into something new. Online learning is a great way to learn too especially for those of you who are immobile, have tight schedules, or other commitments. Online learning solves a lot of these issues for many people of how to get somewhere. So, plugin and enjoy it!
Featured Image: Annie Spratt, Unsplash.