Online learning can be very rewarding. Whether you are studying to get ahead in your career or so that you can learn more about a particular subject, it can provide you with a challenge and a reason to feel positive about yourself. To make sure you get the most out of your online learning experience, consider these questions before you start.
Why Are You Studying?
Ask yourself why you are undertaking the course to begin with. It might be that you want to get ahead in your career and want to get qualified to help you do this. Even if it isn’t a requirement of the job, gaining additional qualifications can look great on your CV and show an employer that you want to take responsibility for your own progression. For example, you might be a qualified teacher, but obtaining a Master’s in Education by studying online will put you ahead of your peers when applying for a new job or gaining a promotion.
It may be that your online study course is not linked to your job at all, but you want to learn more about a particular subject. This could improve your ability to do a hobby you are passionate about and it will give you some time to focus on yourself too.
Whatever the reason you want to study, bear this in mind as you go along. This will keep you motivated to continue working and finish the course. Write it down on a post-it-note and stick it by your workstation to remind you of your goals as you study.
When Will You Study?
Organising your study time is one of the most important things you can do before you begin your online study programme.
You may have already decided on the time of year or month you want to start studying and it could be that your study period will end with exams or a final piece of coursework you will need to hand in. This gives you a rough guide to your study time. However, you also need to consider the time in the middle. Planning out what you will study each week will mean that you don’t miss deadlines for submitting any of your assignments and it will help you to stay on top of your workload. That way you will not get behind and have to rush to finish the course or cram too much for your end of course exams.
Set aside some time each week for your studies. Getting into a routine from the beginning will make it easier for you to stay focused and stop you reprioritising your studies if your work or home life becomes more hectic.
If you can, schedule the same time and place for studying each week and get used to doing nothing else with this time.
It is best to study for two or three hours at a time, but take regular breaks too. You can become fatigued quite easily when you are studying, and this will stop you from concentrating and absorbing information, making any attempt to study counterproductive.
Aim to study for about forty-five minutes at a time and then take a break of about fifteen minutes. Get up from your computer to stretch or make a drink during this time as it will give your eyes a rest too. Make sure you don’t get absorbed in anything else such as social media during your break though, as this might make it more difficult to get back into studying once your break has finished.
Where Will You Study?
Planning where you will study is important. Trying to clear a space for yourself at the kitchen counter while someone in the house is trying to cook themselves dinner and chat to you at the same time will not make things easy for you.
Create yourself enough space to study without being interrupted. It may be that you can use a spare bedroom or dining room for this purpose. Perhaps you could dedicate a corner of your bedroom to give you the study space you need.
Make the area you choose as helpful to your studies as possible. If you are going to be sitting down for long periods at a time, make sure you have a good chair that will support your back and is the right height for the desk you are using. Make sure you have enough light so that you don’t need to strain your eyes. This can be either a natural light if your desk is by a window or alternatively, invest in a good desk lamp.
What Do You Need to Begin Your Studies
To begin an online study course, you will need to make sure you have a good computer with adequate broadband speed, and your equipment is compatible with the content of the course. It may be that you decide to upgrade your software or add new apps to a tablet. Make sure you have done this before the date you want to start the course otherwise you will spend your first study session trying to access material and this can be frustrating.
Your course provider will be able to give you a reading list so you know which books you will have to get and when you will need them. You don’t have to buy everything at once, but make sure you have the material you need each time you start a new topic.
If you are planning on taking notes for your course, make sure you have enough stationery before you start. That way, you’ll have everything you need to hand, and you will not need to stop work because you have realised you have nothing to write on. Being organised is the key to online learning and your working environment is a good place to start.
Plan your online study routine by asking yourself these questions before you start, and you will find it easier to focus and stay on track.