As a teacher who has been in this profession for nearly a decade, the first thing that comes to mind when I hear the word ‘classroom’ is a room full of thirty odd children, bubbling with unbridled energy, the usual cacophony, the torrent of questions that come at you even before you say a word, and having to say “Quiet!” loudly enough to be heard across the next three rooms just to draw attention. Those are only a few ‘hacks’ I used to do to make the best of my 40 minutes in a traditional classroom. At present, with the major portion of the education industry shifting to the online platforms, students are spending a big chunk of their day attending zoom sessions and turning in assignments. As an online learner who invests time into one or more online courses, you owe it to yourself to make the most out of your learning experience. This blog post is my take on how you can get the best out of your journey of online education.
Appreciate online learning practices
A core benefit of online learning is the amount of time it saves for the learner, time which would have otherwise been spent in a traditional classroom as well as in the commute to it. It therefore saves a good amount of time and money. Utilize that time to gather your learnings with the course and to review materials previously covered. Consistent practice and repeated revisions will help you internalize the concepts better.
Dedicate a study space
Whether it is the corner table of a local cafe or the study table in your room, a dedicated study space makes a major difference in your learning and overall productivity. Make sure it is calm, well lit and comfortable, devoid of all things that may distract you and has everything you might need within reach. Being around your study space at a specific time of the day will direct your mind towards studying and achieving your daily goals for the course.
Identify learning objectives
Breaking down your course into daily bite sized goals creates a clear and defined road map for you to follow. This helps you set your mind in a direction in which it is headed and helps you to visualize the path ahead. Breaking it down into smaller targets as you progress also makes it less overwhelming altogether. The idea is to pick a small chunk of the course, ace it first, and then move on to the next.
Strong time management skills is an essential tool when it comes to achieving study goals. To ensure staying on track, always plan ahead and have the course necessities clearly chalked out while keeping an eye on assignments and due dates. Do not procrastinate and leave things for until right before the deadline. This is an easy trap to fall into for many (including yours truly). It not only becomes increasingly overwhelming as the deadline approaches, it also has a knock-on effect on the upcoming phases of the course, leaving an overall impact on the progress of the course. Keep a calendar handy with all the assignment due dates marked. This will help you manage study time effectively.
This is a key determining factor of the pace and the quality of the progress you make in and through the course. That makes it a great opportunity to practice and build on your self discipline. Make it a point to not feel discouraged if you go off track for a bit. Leave some hours on your timeline to take a break and relax before you hop back on with some renewed energy.
Frequent contact with trainer
Unlike a traditional classroom where you might have to wait your turn to talk to the teacher, online courses enable the instructor to be much more accessible. Between discussion forums, emails, and text messages, it is easy to ask questions to clarify your concepts further or for help when you are facing any difficulties. This way you get a better understanding of the course in its entirety. The constant feedback from the instructor from time to time helps you stay on track and head in the right direction.
Ask that question in a zoom call or post that opinion on a discussion board. Do not hesitate or second guess yourself. It is common to fear that what you say might not induce a lot of response from or draw the attention of the rest of the class, but that does not always need to be the goal. It is an agreed upon fact that online learning can make you feel isolated and learning in isolation can be very difficult. Active participation in a virtual class discussion helps feel involved and is a healthy reminder of the fact that there are others who have embarked on the same journey as you.
Staying motivated and regaining momentum
When it comes to online learning, if you go slightly off track or fall behind on schedule, it is very easy to lose the drive you had at the beginning. A great way around it is to simply talk about it. Share your learning experience with others whether it’s your course mate or your family. Talk about what you learned at the dinner table. Explain a new concept you picked up to someone who has no knowledge of the subject matter. This will serve as a constant reminder of the progress you have made. It will help you to collaborate with other learners of the course and thereby regain your original momentum.