Tips for learning online: not just on Wikipedia

Looking to start a new career by acquiring knowledge online? Here are some suggestions for effective e-learning.

Tips for learning online: not just on Wikipedia

In the age of Web 2.0, tertiary education has expanded outside the classroom. There are an increasing number of students pursuing college degrees online. If you are one of them, here are some tips which can help you become a successful online learner.

Time management

Online course is not cyber-surfing for credit. In fact, it requires more hard work and self-discipline than the traditional classroom courses. Online learning is especially challenging for those who constantly suffer from procrastination. That is why time management is the most important skill required for success in distance learning. Before you start a learning program, make sure you have enough time every day devoted to studying. Then, plan your time, make a schedule and stick to it.

Establish a regular schedule

Log on to your course every day or at least five days a week. Do not wait until the end of the week to finish all the coursework. Do a bit of work each day just as you would in a traditional classroom.

The art of note taking

Even though you are not sitting in a traditional lecture room, effective note taking will still be an important part in your study. Unless you have an eidetic memory, writing information down helps you retain knowledge and learn more efficiently. It is also a tool for you to prepare for exams. You notes should contain definitions of new vocabulary learned, new concepts discussed, new procedures explained, and questions you have around the material. However, there is no point taking notes and then never looking at it again. Do you know that if you don’t review your notes within 24 hours after first studying the material, you will only retain 20% of what you have learned? So organize your notes with the progression of your study and review it from time to time.

Don’t be afraid to ask questions

In online learning, the instructors may not be able to perceive whether a student understands the materials or not. Therefore, you need to take the initiative to communicate with your tutor and peers, ask questions and resolve problems. If you experience difficulty on any level, either with the course content or with the technology, communicate your concerns immediately so that the instructor can help you.

Participate in virtual discussion

Be open to the new way of learning, using multimedia like animations, videos, audio files to assist your study. Most importantly, always respond to discussion board questions and exchange ideas with the other students. Do not simply reply with something like “I agree”. Provide practical suggestions and pose thought-provoking questions related to the lesson’s subject matter. A well-designed course uses technology to enhance learning. Swinburne University, for instance, not only offers a variety of courses online, but also provides a platform for the students to collaborate and communicate – use this opportunity to have a meaningful conversation with your classmates!

Author bio: Yuan Liu is a freelancer who has recently joined an online course on Public Relations. She finds that e-learning allows her to manage work and study in a more flexible way and provides an opportunity to enhance her future career. 

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