May 26, 2016
There are definite pros and cons to getting an online education versus going to a traditional classroom. Online learning is a growing form of education, giving you the flexibility to study when, where and how you want – but it takes discipline. There are a few things to keep in mind when considering enrolling in online or distance education.
First, know what you’re getting yourself into. Research the different options that various institutions offer in online learning. Some may offer a more interactive approach using webcams or chat forums for discussion. Some may simply ask you to read the materials, take the tests, and never interact with anyone from your “class”. Look into your options when it comes to the level of contact you will receive in your online learning, and decide what works best for you.
Next, make sure you don’t over extend yourself. Be realistic with your study load and don’t start working on too many units at once. You might think you can take on more because you don’t have to physically attend class, but think again! Just because you aren’t commuting to a campus doesn’t mean you get out of reading and studying. Those things take time, and there are only 24 hours in a day.
A major key to succeeding in online learning is being able to maintain self-discipline. If your trainer isn’t taking roll at the beginning of class, it’s easy to skip your tasks for the day and watch a full season of Game of Thrones. While it may be acceptable to brush off your study responsibilities once in a while, too many of those days will make you regret your decisions when it comes to crunch time.
A good way to succeed with online learning and distance education is by reading over all your learning materials the first time you sit down to study so you get the overall feel for the course and some grounding knowledge. Get a calendar or day planner and mark specific points at when you should have reached milestones in the course and what you have to do to get there. If you have a large project or activity that will take several weeks to finish, break it down into pieces and set realistic accomplishment dates.
Also, try to set a daily or weekly schedule for yourself and follow it. If you work in the morning, fit study time in during your evenings or weekends; if you work evenings, set your alarm for study time in the morning. Commit a certain number of hours per day to study, and try to stick to your plan.
Lastly, don’t be afraid to ask for help. Online learning can be difficult, and may be quite an adjustment for people who are usually hands-on learners. If you feel like you aren’t getting something or you’re falling behind, reach out to your instructor or one of your peers.
Wherever you decide to pursue your online learning experience, make sure you plan appropriately and set realistic expectations.
Congratulations on your decision to invest in your education, persistence is key with online learning and no matter what, never lose sight of your goals!
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