If you’re looking to increase your skills or knowledge base, you’ve probably considered going back to school or starting a new training course.
There are many different places where you can study but for so many of us, learning online has become increasingly attractive and popular.
Learning online allows you to set your own study schedule and work at your own pace, regardless of whether you’re sitting at home or in a coffee shop.
There is a wide range of courses you can take online and you can also get a variety of professional qualifications that will help you progress in your career.
However, learning online isn’t always easy. It takes a great deal of motivation and organization and many find it difficult to keep on track and keep up with their course.
If you’re struggling with learning online or are looking for some tips before you start a course, then this is the article for you.
We will discuss a variety of tips for learning online that will help you keep on track and successfully complete your course.
Let’s get started.
1. Confirm the Course’s Technical Requirements and Equipment
When you sign up for an online course, all of your material and work will be delivered online.
This means that you are responsible for your own learning environment and you need to make sure that you have the right setup to cope with all of the requirements of the course.
For many courses, all you will need is a computer that has a monitor, keyboard, and a stable internet connection. However, some other courses may require more equipment.
For example, a video editing course might require specific software and a computer that has enough processing power to run it.
In other courses, you may need to check in with a tutor via online meetings that will require a video camera and microphone.
Other courses may have lots of audio that will need headphones. You may even find courses that require you to print out information at home.
Before you sign up for any online course, make sure that you have everything that you will need to complete the course. If you don’t have the equipment you need then you will probably fall behind very quickly.
2. Make Sure Your Internet is Reliable
We touched on this in the last section, but it is important enough to require its own point.
When studying online, all of your materials are delivered via the internet and anything you need to submit as part of your course will also be sent via the internet.
There is nothing more frustrating than having a patchy internet connection that constantly drops out while you’re waiting for information to download.
If your course is heavy in video content, having a poor internet connection can mean things will take hours instead of minutes.
You may need to be present for live meetings and seminars with your tutors and professors and you won’t be able to do this if your internet connection isn’t secure.
Many public places such as coffee shops and libraries have strong WiFi that they allow people to use but you can’t always guarantee that these places will be open or have any space.
We would recommend taking the action to ensure that your home internet connection is as strong as it can be.
There are signal boosters and additional modems you can purchase to help your internet connection. You may also find that plugging a desktop or laptop computer directly into a modem instead of relying on WiFi might help.
3. Make a Dedicated Study Space
It will help you keep on track if you have a space in your home that is put aside for studying.
This doesn’t need to be an entire room or even a large space, but you should have somewhere that is comfortable to learn and study. Here are our tips for creating the best study space.
Light It Well
Make sure that your study space has adequate lighting. If it’s too dark, you will run the risk of straining your eyes and it can also be very depressing and claustrophobic to spend your time in a dark corner or room.
If the only space available to you is naturally a little dark, then you can make a dark area lighter by investing in better overhead lighting or even picking up a cheap desk lamp.
This is especially important if you’re going to be studying in the very early morning or late at night when it is still dark outside.
It’s best if your study space is free of distractions. Studying in the living room while other members of your family are moving around and coming in and out of the room is not a good idea.
Once you have become distracted, it becomes increasingly difficult to get back on task. If you can, find a space in a room that is less used and ask your family to give you some space and quiet while you study.
There are also other distractions that you need to look out for, such as your cell phone or the internet. You may want to turn your phone off while studying and close every tab in your internet browser other than those integral to your studying.
This is something that is very individual and you may need to play around with it a little before you figure out what works for you. Some people work best in absolute silence whereas others prefer to have some background noise.
For many, having some music playing in the background or the TV on will help them work better than silence can. Some students work well in coffee shops but others find them too noisy and distracting.
Try out different things to see what works for you.
Get Your Supplies
Before you start an online studying session, make sure you have everything you’re going to need. Get a cup of coffee or a snack, make sure you have paper and a pen, or get anything else that you might need.
If you have to stop and take a break every five minutes to get something you’ve forgotten, your study session will not be very successful.
4. Choose a Routine That Works For You
The beauty of learning online is that much of the work can be done on your own schedule. You may have to be present for some meetings or online lectures, but the majority of the work can be done when it suits you.
Don’t assume that just because school and work both run a nine-to-five routine that is what’s best for you. Some people learn and work best in the early mornings, but others work best in the evenings.
Many people have to fit in learning online around their job so they don’t always have the luxury of choosing when to study but if you’re lucky enough to have the time, see what works for you.
Don’t be afraid to work late into the night if that is what works!
5. Build a Study Plan and Calendar
When you enroll in a physical school or college, you are given a timetable of your classes and everything is planned out for you. When you’re learning online, however, it’s up to you to make your own plan.
Making your own study plan is one of the best ways to ensure that you get your work done and that you are consistent.
You should also look at your week and try to carve out times that are best for study sessions. Take a look at your current responsibilities and see where you can fit in your study.
If you work during the week you may want to dedicate weekends to study. If you’re busy on weekends, you may have to set aside your evenings.
Instead of planning this in your head, it’s best to make an actual plan. This can be on paper or via an electronic calendar but it will help you balance your studying with your work and family lives.
6. Write To-Do Lists
Keeping track of the material you need to study and any assignments you need to submit can be tricky when you’re learning online.
You can’t rely on your tutor or other students to remind you so to-do lists will soon become your best friend.
You can use a to-do list to organize your tasks in order of priority and whenever you cross a completed task off the list, you’re sure to feel a sense of accomplishment.
You can go into as much or as little detail as you need with your to-do list. Some people like to list every single lesson whereas others might just list the overall module.
Choose whatever works for you.
7. Set Your Time Limits
When studying in a school or college, you go into each class knowing that it will only last for a certain amount of time.
When you’re learning online at home, these time restrictions don’t exist and this can cause problems.
Some students might end up working for too long without a break and this can result in eye fatigue and tiredness that could prevent them from being productive in the future.
Other students might get immediately restless because there is no defined end in sight.
When studying online at home, it’s best to set yourself time limits. Instead of studying for three hours solid, have six 30-minute sessions or nine 20-minute ones.
Setting these boundaries will ensure that you’re more productive while you’re studying and will ensure you get those important breaks. Use whatever times work for you.
8. Stick To Your Schedule
Now that you’ve set yourself a schedule, it is imperative that you stick to it.
Of course, if an important emergency arises you shouldn’t feel guilty about canceling or postponing a study session, but don’t skip them for trivial reasons.
Once you’ve skipped one or two sessions it will become easier to skip even more and soon, you’ll find yourself skipping more sessions than you do.
When it comes to sessions that you’ve penciled in for yourself, you can always catch up.
However, you’ll find that relying on this will only put more stress and pressure on yourself and lead to longer studying sessions that will be less productive.
If you start skipping any sessions that are scheduled by your course provider, such as meetings with tutors or live lectures, you may find yourself struggling to complete the course.
Some of these sessions will be mandatory and others might have important information that isn’t provided elsewhere in the course materials.
9. Reward Yourself
A great way to keep yourself motivated as you work through your online course is by rewarding yourself.
By giving yourself a reward, you’ll train your brain to connect successful learning with positive outcomes and it will encourage you to keep going.
Whenever you complete a goal or reach a milestone in your course, give yourself a reward of some kind.
These rewards can be as large or as small as you can manage and it’s a good idea to create a list of rewards before you start your course.
Choose things that you know you will love and enjoy, regardless of whether this is as small as a chocolate bar or as large as a sunny vacation.
In this article, we listed nine different tips for learning online.
We covered important things to think about before you start your course, such as getting the correct equipment and ensuring your internet connection is stable enough.
We also listed several tips and techniques to help you as you study. You should have a dedicated study space and make yourself a routine and study plan that will work for you.
By creating to-do lists you can keep track of what you need to do and rewarding yourself for completing tasks can keep you motivated.
We hope that the hints and tips in this article will help you with your online learning journey.