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6 ways to get the most out of an online learning environment

By Dianna Lloyd

It’s no secret that online learning is opening doors and revolutionising learning as we know it! There are a number of reasons that online learning is an excellent choice –but one of the big reasons that consistently stands out for our students, is the tremendous flexibility that online learning offers. This flexibility allows you the freedom to study on your own time, and even work, while pursuing your degree. These two benefits alone are helping to make it education a possibility for many.

Take, for example Ellie Hodgkinson. Her story was covered by The Guardian, and it’s a familiar one. Ellie had decided that a career change was in order, but was facing the prospect of having to quit work in order to go to university.

Fortunately though, online learning provided her with an alternative. One that meant she could study towards her career as a teacher –without giving up her job to go to university. Ellie studied for a degree in literature while working; and then transitioned into a course that allowed her to train as a teacher.

virtual learning environment

Is online learning the best option for you? 

Online learning doesn’t just offer an alternative –many students find that it’s the definitively best choice for them. Of course, this isn’t to say that online learning is without challenges. As with any university, there are challenges that arise, and education –both online and in-class, requires a significant level of dedication and determination in order to get the best results. Other common challenges include the transition period, finding a way to prioritise time, establishing friendships with other students, and of course, finding that study/life balance! Have a read of How to Study Online: Choosing the Best Online Course for Your Career. 

If you’re thinking of pursuing a degree, but are uncertain whether you could make online learning work for you, let’s look at six ways that you can get the most out of online learning. See common issues that arise, and find out how you can rise above the challenges. Discover if the online learning environment is suited to your lifestyle. Get ready to learn!

6 ways students can make online learning more productive

  1. Trainers as mentors.
  2. Join an Online Community.
  3. Connect with other students.
  4. Peer reviews.
  5. Keep a schedule.
  6. Set achievable goals.

1. Trainers as mentors.

What if you get stuck or need help? I’m sure we have all been stuck at one point or another, and having help so close is just one of the many benefits of learning online. Make the most out of your online learning experience and don’t hesitate to take advantage of the help that’s available! Don’t hesitate to ask questions, your instructors and teachers want to help, and are just waiting for you to ask questions.

Online learning courses also make information easily accessible, allowing you to spend more time studying, and less time searching out answers. While your instructors may not be available 24/7, they will welcome questions happily and will be available at set times. It’s a good idea to jot down your questions as you think of them, so that you will remember them when it’s time to ask your instructor.

old man mentoring young male employee

2. Join an Online Community.

Online communities are the new hangouts -a great way to get information, and just another benefit of online learning. By taking advantage of online communities that are available for students that are pursuing similar degrees to you, you will find opportunities to learn, connect, and find answers –and who know, you may even be able to offer answers yourself!

3. Connect with other students.

Many assume that online classes offer little room for interaction with other students. But this is, in fact, not true! There are many opportunities to interact with other students as well as teachers, without even having to enter a classroom.

So, don’t worry -you don’t have to miss out on socialising when you choose to take an e-learning course. With more and more people turning to the internet for learning, opportunities for interaction are increasing as well. There are more opportunities to interact with other students than ever before.

4. Peer reviews.

Peer reviews are an excellent opportunity to improve! Peer reviews involve reviewing the work of fellow students, while allowing other students the chance to evaluate your work. Evaluating each other’s work helps to give you the skills that you need to adjust your own performance.

Research suggests that reviewing the work of peers offers greater potential for learning than having your own work reviewed, since learners gain more from giving feedback as this helps to develop skills of evaluative judgment. So, don’t pass up an opportunity to help someone else learn –and of course, get your own work checked while you’re at it.

5. Keep a schedule.

Online education allows you to be flexible with where you study and when, but it doesn’t mean that you can ignore scheduling all together! Allocating time for study is just as important as it is for traditional classes. Keep a calendar with all your deadlines and assignment due dates to keep yourself on track –and to remind yourself when it’s time to turn off that show and get to work!

6. Set achievable goals.

I know how easy it is to get distracted! With online learning, one of the big challenges will be avoiding distractions. Of course, traditional universities allow opportunities for distraction as well, since a significant amount of time is spent at home, studying. The best way to avoid distractions -with both online and traditional courses- is by setting realistic and clearly defined study goals to help keep yourself on track and on schedule.

When you think about it –online learning just makes sense. Especially in today’s fast-paced world that demands that we keep up. Online learning allows you to earn an income AND create a better future for yourself at the same time. It’s a great solution if you’re looking to go back to school –but not able to give up your job just yet.

As for Ellie? Online learning was a success –and is an accomplishment that she’s proud of. “Without the flexibility of the Open University I don't know how else I would have got to be a teacher,” she said. “I have been teaching for six years now – I would have entered the profession much later and with much more debt if I'd gone back to being a full-time student and stopped working.”

achievable goals concept

Have you considered online learning?

At Upskilled online learning opportunities are offered, allowing you to fit in your course or degree into your spare time. Many courses are also Nationally Recognised Qualifications which means that they are recognised by Australian universities for entry and credit transfer into many universities. Find more answers at Everything You Wanted to Know About Online Learning (But Were Too Afraid to Ask)

To learn more about some of the exciting opportunities that are available online, visit the Upskilled website and browse through available courses, or contact Upskilled today.

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