Online learning might be flexible and convenient, but that doesn’t mean it’s any easier than learning in a traditional classroom setting. In fact, for many people, online learning can be more difficult because they lack the self-discipline or self-motivation to stay on track and keep going.
It’s important that you set yourself up for success at online learning from the first day you begin. It will be challenging, and if you’re not prepared for it, even a single course can become an obstacle that you simply cannot overcome.
To be successful at online learning, you need to follow these five essential steps:
1. Learn Your Tools
Don’t start your first online course until you’ve invested time into learning the tools, systems, programs, and applications that you’ll use to take the course. This includes the tools you need to digest the content, which could be in video, audio, or text form. It also includes the tools you need to complete any assignments, submit those assignments, and take any required exams.
What happens if you get stuck or have technical difficulties while you’re taking an online course? Before you get started, you should take the time to determine how to get help when you have content or technical questions.
2. Schedule Your Learning
Get a calendar and block off study time each week. This is imperative or it’s simply too easy to skip it. Every time you procrastinate or let something else become a higher priority than your coursework, you’re setting yourself up for failure.
Online learning success depends on your willingness to create a plan, set goals (see step #5 below), and stick with it. You have to be disciplined and keep yourself motivated or you’ll never finish!
3. Eliminate Distractions During Your Study Time
Turn off your phone. Close Facebook. Don’t look at your email. These three actions will make a world of difference in terms of how much you actually get done (and how well you do it) every time you sit down to study. Distractions reduce your productivity, comprehension, and retention!
Furthermore, you need to train your friends and family so they understand your study time must be distraction-free. If they don’t support you in trying to create an environment that leads to successful online learning, then spend time explaining it to them.
4. Find the Best Study Environment for You
What study environment works best for you? Just because your friend, spouse, coworker, or any other person prefers to study in the morning, that doesn’t mean the early morning hours are the best study time for you. Similarly, your spouse prefers to study in her quiet office, but you might prefer to study at the kitchen table.
Where and when you study is entirely up to you when you’re taking an online course. All you have to do is determine the time, place, and surroundings that make you most receptive to learning and make that your study environment.
5. Set Goals for Yourself
Why are you taking an online course? You must have a goal you want to accomplish. Write it down. That’s your long-term learning goal which you should be continuously working to achieve. Next, you need to create some short-term goals.
Short-term goals are your road map to achieve your long-term goal. How are you going to get there? What steps do you have to take along the way to reach that long-term goal? Be specific when you create your short-term goals. For example, you might set a goal to study for a certain number of hours per week or to complete a specific number of lessons each day. The goals are up to you. The most important thing is that you set them and stick to them.
If you follow these five steps, you’ll set yourself up for online learning success. Now, you just need to get started!