Our top tips for online learning
Online learning is likely to be different to any type of study you have done before, we have put together our top tips for online learning.
Create an environment for learning
Some of us are lucky enough to have our own dedicated workspaces at home which provide an ideal place to study online, but it is not the only option. Consider another area in your home or garden as long as it’s somewhere you will not get distracted.
When choosing your space, it is important to consider:
- your comfort: a bright, well ventilated, and ergonomic workspace will help you to focus, make sure your desk or table and chair combination is right. Staying hydrated is a must, always have a bottle of water and some heathy snacks to hand to aid your concentration.
- the technical requirements: set up a place to work with your computer, monitor, keyboard, earphones, notebooks, and any other items you need. Ensure you have all the necessary technical requirements covered and reliable access to the internet
- the atmosphere: whether your preference is full volume rock music, some white noise in the background or complete silence, experiment with different moods to understand what works best for you.
- any possible distractions: reduce access to your phone and social media channels, once you get distracted, procrastination can strike and returning to your screen can become increasingly difficult.
- the time: choose the right time for your study, day, night, or a combination. Working within your preferred pattern will aid your concentration and allow you to retain greater amounts of information.
Set personal objectives for your learning
You might find it useful to think about what you personally want to get out your learning programme, and why. Take some time to clarify your own goals for the programme and think about how best you can achieve these. You might find it helpful to discuss your thoughts with your line manager, or a coach or mentor if you have one. Thinking about what you personally want to achieve from this programme of study, what would be an important outcome for you, in either the short or long term? For example, you might want to use what you learn to help you deliver specific business objectives, improve your performance in your current role, or enhance your future career prospects. Write your goals and objectives down at the beginning of your course of study and use the SMART mnemonic to ensure they are:
Be sure to set achievable milestone goals along the way and review them regularly, this allows you to track your progress, recognise your achievements and most importantly, keep you motivated for the duration of the learning programme.
Develop a study plan
A successful study plan needs to work with your own schedule and allow you a level of flexibility to meet your other responsibilities such as work, home life, parenting and leisure time, so ensure you are realistic when you allocate time for your learning. You may not have time to study every day, so If you can only commit to 3 evening per week or every second weekend, then add these times to your calendar and TRY to stick to them. It is important to commit to your plan and push yourself to accomplish your goal.
Familiarise yourself with the study guide for your first module so you know what’s expected of you.
Start with the end in mind – by when do you want to complete your programme? By when do you want to complete your first and subsequent modules? What needs to happen to ensure you meet your study goals and timescales?
Engage with others
Although you are expected to be self-directed and study independently, there is support available for you. Your main ‘teacher’ in the traditional sense is the voice of your programme study guide so make sure you complete all the activities to help you learn and prepare for your assignments. You can also engage with and learn from other students and subject experts on online discussion forums. And, if there is a group of you at work studying for this qualification at the same time, think about how you might get together to share experiences and learn from each other at work.
Give yourself a break!
Take as many breaks as you need, even set a timer if need be, to make sure you rest regularly. If possible, get away from your learning space. Go outside for a walk or to sit in the garden. Most importantly stop screen time, that means your phone and social media. Give your eyes a well-deserved a rest.
It’s easy to lose your motivation at times during an online programme so when your motivation is low, it is essential to take some time out, allow for a week or so away from your screen or just speak to a friend or colleague for some support. Reminding yourself of why you wanted to undertake this course of study in the first place and all the benefits it will bring you, can help you succeed.