7 Top Tips for Online Learning

The popularity of online learning has seen a surge in recent years, with more people than ever opting to improve their education and skill set via online courses rather than traditional classroom learning. 

But what makes online learning different from traditional classrooms?

Taking online courses allows people from all across the world to learn skills that may have been previously unavailable. They feature many of the same ingredients as classroom learning — tutors, classmates, assignments — but can be completed remotely. 

To help you get to grips with the realities of online courses, we’ve put together a list of 8 top tips for online learning to ensure you succeed in your studies.

1. Research courses in advance 

Online learning can differ in content from tutor to tutor, so it’s vital that you thoroughly read up on the goals and content of the course before enrolling. An entry-level HR course, for example,  isn’t going to cut it if your goal is to implement top-level HR strategies. The more you can narrow down your personal goals, the better you’ll be able to decide which course can best help you achieve your personal and professional goals.

Researching courses is also vital to ensure you know what equipment you’ll be expected to use while obtaining your qualification. Although this won’t be a problem for many courses, those looking to edit music, for example, will need to make sure they have a computer that can handle powerful editing software.

2. Plan effectively

Once you’ve found the right course for you, it’s time to plan. This is arguably one of the most important things you can do in your learning journey, as it sets you up for success from the very beginning. 

Set yourself goals and deadlines throughout your online learning experience. This will help keep you motivated and on-track so you won’t fall behind in your studies. 

  • Plan ahead: Always give yourself plenty of time to complete a task. Even if you think you can complete it last-minute, unexpected technical difficulties could spell disaster if you haven’t properly planned ahead.
  • Create a calendar: Remembering key dates is crucial. Whether it’s a deadline, a meeting or an exam, noting dates in an electronic calendar means you’ll have all the information in one place and can even set yourself reminders for upcoming events.
  • Build a to-do list: Starting your week off with a simple list of goals that you need to accomplish by the end of the week will make sure you stay on track and will help to gradually chip away at your workload in manageable chunks.
  • Set yourself time limits: Time limits help to keep procrastination at bay. If you spend more time than you’d like to on your online learning projects, you’ll begin to dislike it as it eats into your personal life. Keeping to self-set time constraints will mean you’ll never dread an upcoming project as you’ll know how long it will take you to complete.
  • Stay on schedule: Stick to your plan! It’s easy to skip a day of studying when you’re not in the mood, however, it’s a slippery slope to losing your motivation and commitment.

3. Develop a schedule

Creating a broad plan to cover the duration of your course is important, but you also need to start creating a personal schedule for your study days. 

Think about your learning process. How many hours do you need to study? How many lectures do you need to attend? How will you space out your off-days?

This is all about finding a routine that works for you — that way you’ll start to form a habit, making it easier to commit to the time you’ve set aside for learning. You could choose to study in the mornings, get it all out of the way at the start of the week, or commit to an hour after work each day; it doesn’t matter when, as long as it works for you. 

4. Create a dedicated study area

From daytime TV to endless social media scrolling, our homes are full of distractions threatening to disrupt our work.

A common solution to keep your mind from wandering is to create a dedicated space that you only use for studying. A separate room is ideal, but even a desk or small table that you can sit at solely to complete your studies is great too. Make sure there’s plenty of natural light, a comfortable chair and no clutter — this is a place you should want to be in.

If for whatever reason your home is too distracting — maybe you live in a house share or a home full of energised children — finding a cosy coffee shop can work just as well. If you can sit comfortably and stay focussed, it’s good enough. 

5. Give yourself study breaks

Like any task, it’s important to give yourself adequate breaks when you’re studying for an online course. It can be tempting to keep your head down and work as hard as you can, especially when its a subject you’re passionate about, but you also risk burning out.

Every hour or so, get out of your chair and give yourself a quick break. Stretch your legs, put the kettle on and give your eyes an important rest from your screen. Most importantly, don’t feel guilty about taking breaks: they’re important to keep yourself at a healthy work pace. 

6. Participate in online discussions

Online learning may feel like you’re studying in isolation, but there are plenty of like-minded people out there to connect with. Social media and course forums are both great ways to communicate, giving you platforms to speak to your coursemates or simply others who are learning something similar. DPG’s Community Page, for example, is free for anyone to sign up to and gives you access to hundreds of online learning discussions.

By speaking with your peers, you have the opportunity to participate in online discussions, engage in new ideas and share study tips. You could even make some friends along the way!

7. Don’t be afraid to ask for help

An important thing to remember with online learning is that you are, in fact, learning. You’re taking actions to gain a better understanding of a subject, so you’ll naturally have questions and feel lost from time to time. 

Online tutors offer more than just teaching in the traditional sense: they’re there to facilitate your learning. Rather than the one-sided teaching you find in a classroom setting, facilitators guide students in a self-exploratory way — allowing learners to apply what they’ve learned to their professional work. Online learning is an open platform, giving you plenty of opportunities to ask for help without judgement. By hesitating to get in touch, you’re losing valuable time that could be spent on your coursework and risk falling behind. 

At the end of the day, you’re here to learn, so don’t be afraid to ask questions!

If you’re interested in enrolling in online learning, we have a range of courses available in Learning & Development, Human Resources and Leadership & Management. Or you can head over to the DPG Community page to learn more about online learning.