While online classes have become the hallmark of the COVID-19 pandemic for students of all ages, the concept of distance learning is not new. The idea was born in the 1800s with correspondence courses, where the student and teacher interacted through the mail. In the early 1900s, forward-thinking universities began recording lectures for students to play on gramophones. England created the first Open University in 1969, in which all courses were delivered by radio and television. The first internet-based course came out of Penn State in 1995. Since then, online education has grown steadily as technologies for delivering instruction and collaborating have improved.
With a century and a half of experience under their belts, professional educators in the field of distance learning have learned a thing or two about how online students can be most effective. Here are five tips you can use to ensure you are a successful online learner.
Schedule Regular Time and Place for Learning
The specific time and location for your learning experience are not as important as consistency. Whether you choose mornings, lunch time, or evenings to do your coursework, and whether you work in the kitchen, bedroom, basement, or a public library, the key is to always be in the same place at the same time to study. The brain functions best when it recognizes routines. Once you establish a habit of time and place, your brain will automatically shift into learning mode when you sit down in the same place at the same time.
If possible, find a place to work near a window. Studies show that natural light increases health, concentration, and performance.
A good location for learning requires minimum distractions. Avoid high-traffic areas where people are coming and going and carrying on conversations. Different people learn in different ways. Some need white noise in the background to drown out auditory disruptions, while others work best in undisturbed silence. You know your brain best.
Set up in a location where power outlets are accessible. You know the frustration of dropping an important call because your phone battery died or the panic when your laptop battery is at 3% and you still have an hour of work to do.
Lastly, try to plan your training schedule for the time of day when your energy is high. Your body has a natural rhythm of effectiveness. You know from experience whether you are a morning person or a night owl. You know when the afternoon blahs make you want to take a nap. Learning requires energy and attention. Organize your study time to match your periods of highest energy to get the most benefit from your effort.
Take Your Time
Online courses are not easier than in-class courses, and they cannot be rushed through. The brain needs time and repetition to make connections, organize new knowledge, and internalize concepts. If you take shortcuts and skim through materials at lightning speed, you will not get the results you need to master the material. When you apply for a job, the hiring manager will not be interested in how quickly you completed your training but how well you have learned and how effectively you can demonstrate the skills for the job.
Practice with the Technology
Nothing is worse than starting the first day of a new course and finding you can’t play the video, or you need to take a test and your computer cannot run the app. Falling behind because you are struggling with a glitch in the technology can be doubly frustrating. Too many drop out of online training because they cannot get the technology to work. You can avoid the frustration by taking the time to read the instructions, watch the tutorials, and explore the technology elements of your course up front.
An important advantage of the RemoteMode program is that the technical aspects of the courses are fully supported. The technical support staff is always ready and available to help you resolve problems to ensure you have a successful experience with every aspect of your learning experience.
An attractive advantage of online learning is the opportunity to work at your own pace. Self-paced learning, however, requires self-discipline. Use the course syllabus to lay out your plan for completing the course and put milestones and reminders on your calendar. Keep track of your progress toward your goals. The brain retains information better and skills become more ingrained through a gradual process and predictable effort. A steady, consistent pace is far more effective than slacking off at the beginning and then cramming and pulling all-nighters at the end.
Have your needed equipment and supplies ready to go when you sit down to begin a learning session. Of course, you need the obvious things, like your laptop and charger. But don’t forget a notepad and pen in case you need to jot something down. Bring water and perhaps a snack to keep your body going while your mind is working.
Make sure your environment is prepared as well. Turn off distracting notifications on your cell and on your computer. If you can control the room temperature, set it at a comfortable level. Otherwise, have a fan or a blanket handy. Ensure you have proper lighting. Your learning is more effective when you can focus on the task without worrying about your surroundings.
You can be successful in an online learning course. It takes organization, self-discipline, planning, and preparation, which are the qualities you need to be successful at any endeavor. The skills you gain in the process of online learning are the same skills you need to succeed on the job—and particularly if that job is a remote-work technology career.
RemoteMode’s professional online training program is designed to ensure you succeed. Their courses use proven technologies that are fully supported. Contact a RemoteMode education counselor today to find out how you can succeed at online learning to prepare you for your new tech career.
Take the first step to your new remote career!