Amid uncertainty caused by Coronavirus, many of us have turned to learning new skills online.
But how do online courses differ to traditional instructor-led classrooms? And what can you do to get the most out of the experience? We’ve put together our top tips for learning effectively online, based on years of delivering eLearning to analysts and associates at the top 4 investment banks.
1) Prepare goals and objectives
Knowing what you are working towards will have a significant impact on your self-motivation. It is important that when you start learning you have a clear end goal in sight. For instance, have you enrolled in the online course to earn a certificate? Are you looking to impress in interviews by showing you have taken the time to learn relevant skills? Will this course help you to secure your dream job? Keep this objective in mind and you will find it much easier to maintain learning.
2) Schedule in time to study
Finding time to learn can be difficult, especially if you are in full-time work, studying at university, or have responsibilities at home. Nevertheless, it is important to set aside a couple of hours a day to focus on studying. Perhaps you could wake up earlier or make use of your lunch hour. Stick to the same time each day and you will find it easier to make a habit out of studying.
3) Set up a dedicated study space
Making sure you are comfortable while working and free from distraction is key to successful online learning. Set aside an area in your home, whether that is in the living room or a corner in your bedroom, that is solely used for online study. Ensure you have a chair that supports your back and keep the space tidy. If you’re afraid of disturbance from family or friends, set boundaries – let them know when you need space to work. Other things you will need to consider include:
- Do you have working WiFi?
- Do you have access to the right software needed to participate in the course?
- Do you work better in silence or with ambient noise?
- Will you be distracted by your phone or social media? If so, restrict access to these.
4) Follow an intuitive learning path
Most eLearning, including our own online courses, will offer guided content, however this does not always impose strict limitations on how you learn. This means that a lot of the time it is completely up to you how you decide to work online. We recommend that you build a study plan. This could be structured around the online course’s own learning path or based off your own preferred method of working. For instance, you may decide that you want to get the harder content out of the way first or cover the basics. To stay on track, we recommend you:
- Plan ahead by creating daily and weekly to-do lists.
- Set time limits.
- Do not focus solely on the theory – make sure you partake in practical tests and exams!
- Stick to your schedule! Don’t fall behind.
5) Take regular breaks
While studying, you must allow yourself time away from the desk. Stretch regularly or take coffee breaks to avoid burn out. It is just as important to focus on your own mental health as it is on your learning – don’t overwork yourself!
6) Make the most of your online resources
Will you have access to a tutor on your online course? For example, we have real-life Wall Street instructors waiting to answer questions on our eLearning. We recommend you make the most of this opportunity; do not be afraid to ask for help. Also, if there are discussion boards, try and communicate with your virtual peers. The more you feel a part of a community while studying alone, the better.
7) Take notes along the way
Don’t be a passive learner! Make sure you engage with the course as much as possible. Instead of just watching online videos, take notes and make sure you understand the content. You could even try:
- Teaching friends or family your new skills – this will help to reinforce what you have just learnt.
- Revise from your notes and read back to yourself, until you have learnt the theory off by heart.
- Practice your new skills as much as you can, using any provided workouts, exercises, or tests.
- Share notes or thoughts with your virtual classmates and listen to their feedback.
8) Keep motivated with self-rewards
The best way to stay motivated while learning online is by rewarding yourself! Imagine you have just finished a challenging module – congratulate yourself with a tasty treat or by listening to a favourite song. It is important to make learning fun and seem less of a chore.
9) Focus on one thing at time
Avoid multitasking at all costs. It may be tempting to do more than one thing at a time, but this article from Forbes explains why “our brains just aren’t equipped for multitasking tasks that do require brainpower”. Make sure you only put your energy into one task at time for optimal learning.
10) Don’t beat yourself up!
We all have more productive and less productive days. Don’t let yourself get down if you find it difficult to study at times. Look ahead, stay positive, accept that things may go wrong, and keep working towards your goals!
We’d love to hear your top tips for learning effectively online.