Online learning is more than just a seasonal trend at this point. There are universities offering access to advanced degrees through online learning platforms. Courses on various subjects are also easy to find. Of course, you have more resources to help you learn new things and master new skills online. Online learning isn’t a seasonal trend; it’s the future.
While you can find an online course on virtually any subject you like, online learning is not without its challenges. In fact, it can be more challenging than attending classes in some situations. Before you go ahead and start searching for online courses to take, here are the 8 things you need to know about online learning.
1. Not All Courses Are 100% Online
Programs advertised as online learning programs are not always conducted 100% online. This is usually the case with programs from reputable universities, since some still require class attendance depending on the course you take. If you are studying for an online master’s degree, you may also be required to present your thesis in person.
Make sure you check the requirement of the course before deciding to take it. If you are required to attend a face-to-face session, or if attendance is mandatory, you need to know about those requirements beforehand. Failure to attend some classes may result in you not being able to complete the course.
2. They’re Easy to Find
As mentioned before, online courses are becoming more popular, which means finding a suitable one for you is much easier than you think. Findcourses.co.uk, a site famous for its comprehensive catalogue of learning programs, now lists courses that you can take online too. You simply need to set the location filter to ‘distance’.
Online courses such as the ECDL course from a reputable provider can be found in the Findcourses.com catalogue. While you are searching for online courses, you can also find offline programs near you, which means you have more options to take into consideration when choosing a suitable learning program.
3. Time Management Is Key
Just because you are taking a course online, doesn’t mean there aren’t requirements to meet. You still have to pass exams and submit assignments to complete the course. The only difference is that you can be very flexible with your time.
This is where good time management skills are important. You have to be willing to allocate a certain amount of your time for studying. If you take a demanding course, allocating one or two hours of your time may not be enough. You also have to make sure that you are not distracted during those times.
Time management is even more important when you are pursuing an online degree. Online programs follow the same strict standards as their offline counterparts. Don’t be surprised if you have online classes to follow and assignments to complete.
4. They’re as Valuable
There is a big misconception about the value of online courses. Many believe that taking a course or a learning program online results in lower qualifications. This may have been true 10 years ago, but the online learning landscape has changed a lot since then. The fact that top universities and learning institutions now offer their programs online is a testament to that substantial change.
Online learning programs have some advantages. They usually have a newer, more up-to-date curriculum thanks to their flexibility. You will also find online programs to be relatively more affordable than the equivalent offline course. On top of that, you can get the same certifications when taking online courses; the ECDL course mentioned earlier is a good example.
5. You Don’t Need To Be A Computer Expert
Many potential students might be put off taking an online course because they struggle with computers, but most online courses are remarkably easy to use and come with proper instructions. Should you feel that you’re not able to use your computer well enough to make an online course work for you, then consider taking a European Computer Driving Licence (ECDL) course to allow you to feel more confident with your computer before you use it to learn and enhance your career.
6. Not All Programs Are Self-Paced
Keep in mind that while online programs are very flexible, not all of them are that flexible. There are still courses with predetermined schedules, strict requirements, and even fixed timelines. This is why you must always do your research before enrolling.
Some programs are made more rigid to maintain high student engagement. Programs with live lectures also require you to join streamed classes and interact with fellow students. The majority of online courses are asynchronous, but you may find yourself being asked to work with other students on mutual projects too.
Not all programs are self-paced. There are courses that you can take in your own time, and programs that you must follow to the letter. The good news is, you have options. You can choose to take the program that suits your learning style best.
7. You Are Not Alone
Speaking of synchronous online courses, taking an online learning program doesn’t have to mean studying alone. You still have fellow students who take the same course at the same time. There are lecturers that you can learn from and interact with. You can even ask questions if you run into issues and download learning materials from the course platform.
You are not alone. Programs designed for multiple students – usually for corporations who want to provide their employees with training – are also quite common. Businesses appreciate online learning programs for their flexibility and lower cost too.
You are also not alone in completing the course. Getting the support of family and co-workers is an important part of completing an online course. Their support will help you stay motivated when facing challenges along the course.
8. You Need to Stay Motivated
That actually brings us to the last important fact we will discuss in this article: it is up to you to stay motivated when taking an online course. This may not be that different than staying motivated when trying to complete an offline program, but the challenges brought by online learning could make staying motivated more difficult.
For example, it is very tempting to do something else during the time you have allocated for studying; distractions are always easy to find. Unless you are motivated – and fully committed to completing the course – you will always choose other things over studying.
The same is true with assignments and exams. You still have to study for them to complete the course. Writing becomes a big part of taking an online program, especially since communications and other parts of the course rely heavily on your ability to convey messages using effective writing.
These are the 8 things you need to know about online learning. With these basics covered – and the tips and tricks we also discussed in mind – you can conquer any online learning program you want to take without hassle.