Online Learning: My Top Tips to Succeed — Detailed & Honest!

Top Tips for a Unique Learning Experience.

👋 Welcome to the World of Online Learning.

Online learning is a truly unique experience and a world of endless knowledge and discovery. It offers affordable and accessible high-quality content for everyone all around the world. I personally loved ❤️ online learning from the first moment I took my first online course, and I haven’t stopped ever since.

If you are reading this article, chances are that you are starting your journey by taking your first course, or perhaps you already have some previous experiences and would like to optimize your habits.

If this is the case, you’ve come to the right place! 😃👍 Here are my top tips after approximately four years of taking courses on edX, MIT OCW, UoPeople, Udacity, Coursera, Khan Academy, Udemy and even YouTube (Yes, I’m a huge fan! I found my love for computer science thanks to these platforms 😍).

✅ Tip #1: Be Self-Driven and Motivated.

Choose courses that you are genuinely interested in. Online learning is a completely independent experience, and being self-driven and motivated is vital to enjoy the experience.

Before taking a course, ask yourself:

  • Do I get really excited when I read the course description? I usually know from just reading the course description and watching the promo video if I’m interested in what the course offers. Analyze these elements and be honest with yourself. If you don’t feel really excited by reading the syllabus, it may not be the right course for you. But don’t worry, there are thousands of courses out there waiting for you to find them. 😜
  • Can I dedicate enough time per week to this course? Sometimes we get really excited to start a course, but then our lives, schedules and personal circumstances get in the way. Be honest to yourself and determine if you can keep up with the due dates. Some courses may not even have due dates because they are self-paced and you can complete the coursework before a certain deadline without having strict due dates per week. If you are extremely busy, this might be the best way to go. Otherwise, having due dates (at least in my personal opinion 😊) really helps you stay on track and creates a more enjoyable experience.
  • Will this course help me in the future? Analyzing how a course fits within the context of your future and professional career really helps you engage with the coursework. If you know why you’re taking the course, every assignment becomes an opportunity to master the skills that you‘ll need, and every lecture is one more step towards reaching a particular goal. This way, you have that extra encouragement that you need during the ups and downs of your course experience. 👀
  • Would I be willing to choose this course over another activity? When you commit to a course, it is vital to make sure that you are willing to “sacrifice” the time that you would dedicate to doing something else. If you truly enjoy the course, it will not feel like a sacrifice at all, it will feel like an investment for your future. 🏆

If your answer is yes to all these questions, then you’ve found the right course! If not, keep searching. There are thousands of online courses out there, so be confident that your perfect course is waiting for you to find it. 👌

✅ Tip #2: Develop Time Management Skills.

Time management skills are vital to succeed in online learning. Unlike traditional classroom settings, online courses will not have a mechanism to constantly remind you of the due dates, so I recommend creating a schedule and a notification system.

You can install an app on your smartphone or computer and keep track of your due dates, or perhaps use pen and paper and write a to-do list for the week. It’s important to keep your list where you can see it and update it on a daily basis.

Set a fixed study schedule per week. I know unexpected things can happen, but this is vital to stay on track and meet your deadlines. You can adjust your specific study hours to fit your needs, but it’s vital to maintain a fixed amount of time per week dedicated to the course. I recommend spreading your work across several days to avoid rushing into learning the content in the last moment.

✅ Tip #3: Use All the Resources Available.

👉 Online learning means freedom. You can use the resources provided as you wish, and it’s up to you to take full advantage of what each course offers.

Video lectures, discussion forums, quizzes, practice exercises, PDF handouts, webinars, they are all there for YOU. 🎓 Yes, some courses may include more resources than others, but each one has its own unique advantages that you can explore to fit your learning style.

This is why I think online learning is more versatile than traditional learning, because it can be molded and customized by the student to provide the optimal learning experience. I’m a visual learner myself, 👀 so I like to watch video lectures, diagrams and colorful explanations, but that’s my personal preference. Online learning gives you the opportunity to customize your experience as you wish.

You can engage in interesting discussions with your peers on the discussion forums and even ask questions. ❓ Online learning might feel solitary during moments of frustration and despair when the content gets complicated but discussion forums bring that human element that we all need to overcome hurdles, clarify doubts and exchange ideas. There will always be a peer or instructor willing to help you.

It’s all there for you, you just need to take the time to determine how to customize it to fit your needs. 👍

✅ Tip #4: Take Thorough Notes.

Taking notes is one of the most effective methods to learn during online courses (in my opinion! 😊). Take thorough notes while you are watching video lectures. Don’t just copy what’s in the slide, truly customize your notes, add small comments, tips that the professor mentions, and things that you found interesting.

Once you have your notes organized, you can even summarize the topic using mind maps (a technique that I found very effective! 😃).

Go through the practice exercises after completing them and write down your mistakes. Don’t think of them as failures, think of them as opportunities to learn and improve. Add small notes on what you did wrong and how you can fix it. I’ve found this technique very helpful to review before quizzes and graded exams.

The key is to find a method that works for you and that helps you understand the topic well enough to apply it to new scenarios. 👍

✅ Tip #5: Dive Deeper into Each Topic.

With freedom, comes responsibility. You now have thousands of years of wisdom and billions of resources at your disposal with just one click. It is your responsibility to take full advantage of the amazing tools that the 21st century provides. 📚

You are not limited to restricting your knowledge to what’s provided in the course. Dive deeper into each topic, find external resources, make a Google Search on the topic you are studying and start your journey to a world of endless knowledge. Browse through forums, articles, news, journals, anything that can complement what you’re studying to add context to your learning process.

In online learning, you are in charge of how much you learn. You get what you give. If you work hard and dedicate time and effort, you will be rewarded with an awesome learning experience and new knowledge that you can apply to your daily life and work.

These are my top tips for succeeding as an online learner. I really hope you liked this article, and I wish you good luck with your journey. 👍


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