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How to learn online in 5 steps

Online learning can be a real change if you're used to learning in person. So how can you navigate your new learning experience and maximize your own results? Simple: follow these 5 steps.

How to learn online in 5 steps

Online learning can be a real change if you're used to learning in person. So how can you navigate your new learning experience and maximize your own results? Simple: follow these 5 steps.

So you've assessed the pros and cons of online learning, selected your online course, and you are ready to go! But to be genuinely successful and get the most out of your course, there are a few things to prepare before you start so you can master how to learn online.

How do I learn online?

Follow these five simple steps to optimize your online learning experience.

1. Write an objective statement.

Motivation is such a powerful force. And while you may have been incredibly motivated when you selected your course, that can quickly fade away when you face hard work or challenging issues. Writing an objective statement—essentially why you're pursuing the course—is a helpful reference point to pull out when you feel overwhelmed or ready to give up. It will help remind you of why you started the course in the first place.

I am studying [INSERT COURSE] because I would like to [ACTIVITY WITH SKILL] as it will [IMPACT ON YOUR LIFE].

2. Map out your ideal schedule.

So much of your success in online learning will come down to your ability to manage your time effectively, especially if you are completing this course on the side of a job, taking care of your family, or your studies. Refer to the intended course time commitment, including any mandatory live classes, and already block the time in your schedule. You can do this using a physical planner or agenda or, better yet, Google Calendar.

Make sure to leave 30-minute to one-hour-long blocks to reflect and organize your thoughts about the course material. Building in short "study" periods from the beginning will prevent you from becoming overwhelmed when more extensive assignments come in.

3. Download all of the course materials and organize them.

If you have access to the course materials before you start, it's always a good idea to download them to your computer and organize them in folders—this way, you always have access to them! If you get your course materials distributed weekly or monthly, managing them is still vital! Think about them like you'd treat physical papers. No one wants a messy desk where documents get lost!

4. Set up a dedicated study space

Distractions are everywhere, especially when you're at home. Setting up a dedicated study space for your online course is essential. Having a specific spot, you can remove distractions from can help you focus when it comes time to attend class or do some solo study.

Checklist for your online learning space

Here are some things you can consider when making your study space:

  • Good lighting for video calls and reading
  • Solid WiFi connection (this is an absolute must-have for many online courses!)
  • Select a location that's furthest away from noisy rooms
  • Personalize your workspace with photos or plants
  • Comfortable chair
  • Close to a window

Things to avoid for your online learning space

  • Setting up your workstation in your bed
  • TV in the room
  • Direct sunlight on your computer screen

5. Check your equipment and tech.

We mentioned that one of the negatives of online learning was tech-related. It's not that tech is bad—not at all! It's simply that it can be buggy and sometimes breakdown, which ultimately stops your online learning experience in its tracks! So before you get started on your course, make sure to check a few of these off your list.

Checklist for your equipment and tech

  • Check your WiFi speed and speak with your provider if it's not performing well
  • Check that you have the most recent versions of all the apps you'll be using for the course
  • Check that you have enough storage space for new apps and heavy files either on your computer (you can use a hard drive if not!) or cloud storage (try Google Drive)
  • Check your video call setup (if needed in class). Ensure your headphones work and your camera points at a neutral background or that you've chosen a good virtual background.

If you're already seeing that something in your tech setup is not working 100%, make sure already to communicate this with your instructors or course organizers to see if they can accommodate or help.

With these factors checked off your to-do list, you'll be ready to start your selected online course!

Ready to get the most out of your online course? Read on in this article series here!

Adrie Smith

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