So you are interested in taking an online learning course, yet you don't know where to begin or what is required. These steps will give you a basic understanding of how online education works and what you can do to get the best training experience.
Understanding Online Learning
- Online learning. This is also known as distance learning or eLearning. Today's technology allows for self-motivated individuals to choose online learning over the traditional classroom setting. Convenience is one of its advantages; you can take the course when you are ready and the time you save allows you to focus on life's other obligations. You must have a good sense of time-management in order to succeed as you will make your own schedule and are in control of your learning.
What is offered. There is a great amount of resources for online learning. You can take anything from accredited college courses to computer training and more. There are even classes tailored to the needs of children. Do an internet search for what interests you or contact a college or university to see what is offered. Keep in mind that since you are taking online learning, you are not limited to local contacts.
System requirements. Is your computer adequately equipped for online learning? That depends on the course and who is offering it. Some training allows you to take the course through a learning management system online, while other programs have you download the course to your PC. You may need an upgraded Flash Player. Some involve sound, which might necessitate a sound card. Check the requirements for the specific course before you purchase it.
Access. Make sure you can access the training either at home or from the office.
Register. You will likely have to register before you take a course. This allows for tracking your progress and applying credit.
Log in. When you are ready for the course, log in and follow the instructions. Remember, all courses are different and may have you follow a distinct set of instructions to access the training.
Take your course. Away we go! Don't rush through the course. Instead, take your time and absorb as much information as possible. Some courses may have assessments/tests at the end to gauge your knowledge transfer from the course. Again, follow the instructions as you proceed through the training.
Instructor communication. Most courses include the best method of communication for the instructor. The preference may be message boards or chat rooms, but you can typically contact your instructor via email. Depending on the type of course, you may not actually have an instructor. However, you should be given a point-of-contact or help line for any questions that arise.
Thing to consider:
- Set aside time. Commit to a schedule and try to make it consistent. Work as if you were in a traditional classroom by freeing yourself from potential interruptions. If you are at home, don't try to study when your kids need you. If you are at work, make sure your manager and co-workers know that you are unavailable at scheduled times. Make sure to take breaks at least every half hour. Training is most effective in smaller chunks. Anything longer than that at a time can be overwhelming and you may not retain as much information.
Set goals. Your training course will likely provide learning objectives to follow. Keep these in mind and also add some of your own, like what it is you expect to get out of the class and how you can apply it to the real world.
Remain active. Be a life-long learner by not letting updates to training pass you by. Review the material frequently and look for additional training pieces to increase your subject knowledge. Online training makes this easier as you have a world of information at your fingertips.