aking any e-learning course does not guarantee you will learn anything. You may just learn enough to fluke the test for certification only to find three months down the line that you have completely forgotten everything from the course.
The largest barrier e-learning students have is memory retention. To help with this, there are things you can do ahead of starting your studies which will give you the best chance of success.
5 Preparation Tips to Help You Learn More Effectively Online
Create the best environment for learning
The best environment for learning is distraction free and interruption free. The way you can create this atmosphere is to dedicate a study space for learning. No blaring televisions in the background, mobiles turned off, notification alerts turned off, etc. E-learning does parade around the learn anywhere, anytime principle, but that’s not going to help you really learn from the course.
You can most certainly study that way but effective learning happens when there is significant time spent in study mode. Distraction free and interruption free. Just like the classroom environment would be. What’s really meant by anytime, anywhere is access to your course material. You can revise the course contents whenever and from wherever you like, but to get the most out of any course, set up a dedicated space that supports a good learning environment. If it’s the living room or dining room table you’re using, just make sure you have no distractions and limit the potential interruptions that could happen, such as phones ringing or friends coming over during the time you’ve allocated for studying.
Make your learning more fun and meaningful by collaborating with others
Not all courses have interactive discussion boards, mainly because students enrol at different stages and not in groups, so it’s more likely that even if a specific course provider did include access to a course specific discussion board, it would be inactive. Therefore, you would wait a long time for answers.
What students can do in preparation for a course though is use web search to find a forum/discussion board where the topic is being discussed.
To find forums related to any e-learning course you’re studying or plan to, you can use the search operator:
Put the topic you need after the search operator. The above forum was found using Google and searching for inurl:forum + Microsoft Excel.
An additional benefit to using discussion boards is that it helps you interact with others, which is building on your networking skills. Best practice if you do use discussion boards is to be active with other users. There may be more advanced questions being posted that you could very well know the answer to and really contribute to conversations. This will boost your self-confidence.
Learning online works best when users are actively engaged with others. That’s not to say that when you reach the test of any course, you turn to the forums for expert answers. That is cheating and will hinder what you learn from a course.
Use the information immediately
Whenever you learn about new concepts or techniques it helps you to remember it when you apply that new knowledge immediately. Going back to the Microsoft Excel example, if you open the software and apply the techniques to do something, it will be better understood.
Likewise, if you’re in employment and the lessons can be applied at your place of work, such as communication techniques, apply those to conversations with colleagues. The same can apply to voluntary work experience positions for any course you study.
At the very least, handwritten notes should be taken while you study because writing down essential points helps you remember it. The most challenging part of e-learning is memory retention so write things down.
Ask specific questions
You can ask your questions publicly in forums or to your tutor/support, or just write them down to find the answers to later. During your study time, write down any question that pops into your mind. Later, get more specific about the question. The more detailed it is, the better your understanding will be.
If you’re participating in online discussions, take extra time to ensure clarity in the question. Make it as specific as you possibly can. The more you force yourself to think about specifics, the more likely it is that if you know it, you will recall it. And if you can’t, others will understand your question better and therefore be able to provide a more insightful response.
In simple terms, don’t just ask a question. Reserve basic questions for Google, Bing or Yahoo. Go deeper to ask expert questions that only knowledgeable experts in the field could answer.
The majority of the time, you will find the course has already covered what you need to know and the problem is memory rather than a lack of knowledge.
Plan ahead for motivation
The biggest killer of getting anything done is procrastination. It’s particularly problematic with e-learning, simply because it takes self-discipline to take the time, sit down and devote your time to studying when there’s a myriad of other things you could be doing.
The key to moving past procrastination is to plan ahead to account for motivation. Do this with an action plan to prevent it.
That one’s easy when you know why you won’t do something.
The reason people procrastinate is mostly to do with your mood. If you’re in a horrible mood, you won’t want to do anything apart from the things that make you feel better. Like watching a movie and eating ice cream!
Plan ahead to account for tasks that will put you in a better frame of mind. If, for example, you’re working a day job that you don’t enjoy and you know you’re going to come home drained of energy and want to just sit on the sofa, plan to do something that will lift your mood. Exercise is a good starting point such as taking a 15-minute walk outdoors. Take the dog.
Or instead of watching live TV, switch to watching catch-up episodes. That way if you can watch them after work or whatever you’re doing before your study time you’re going to run out of episodes to watch. You could take that approach or convince yourself that you will get your study time in before you relax with your TV shows.
Putting a little prep work in before you enrol in an e-learning course can definitely help you to get more out of it. The largest barrier to e-learning is memory retention. The simplest method of remembering the important elements from your course material is to write it down.
While you can study at anytime and anywhere, you will find it helps to create a study environment that supports your learning. The reason most adults choose e-learning is for the flexibility because there are no set hours of the day required. This is advantageous for revising course material, but it’s not going to help you retain the information. Set some hours aside for study time which is free from distractions and possible interruptions.
If you can create engagement with others using forums, it will help add an additional element to support your learning and help you get encouragement from others, which can keep your learning on track. More importantly though, you can use the knowledge you’re learning right away by answering questions others are asking. By putting the information you learn to use right away, you will more likely to remember that information. And you’re networking at the same time, so that’s an added bonus.