Online learning offers a world of opportunity, allowing you to catapult your career to new heights and change your life for the better.
Like everything in life, you get out what you put in. MasterStart Former Chief Development Officer Paul Lensen shares his tips on how to get the most out of your online learning experience.
“I love Netflix. I can choose what to watch, when to watch it, and how many episodes to binge on at a time (usually all of them!).
Online learning feels a bit like this. You can learn about what’s important to you, and do so in your own time and space. But you do need to make sure you have a few fundamentals covered in order to make the most of the opportunity.
1. Choose the Right Course
First, pause Netflix. Once you’ve managed this (it can often be the hardest part!), invest some time and effort into making sure you choose a course that’s both relevant to and recognised by your field. Look for an accredited online qualification, checking that the institution is registered with the DHET (Department of Higher Education and Training) as well as the CHE (Council for Higher Education) or any of the various SETAs mandated by the QCTO (Quality Council for Trade and Occupations). Also make sure that the qualification is registered with SAQA (South African Qualifications Authority). While most online short courses do not require accreditation, enrolling with a registered institution speaks to the credibility of the content and learning experience.
2. Find a Reliable Internet Connection
Most courses are ‘data light’, but video content can use a lot of data. The trick is to choose online courses that give you the option to download video or course material to view offline later.
3. Familiarise Yourself with the Course Outline
Get acquainted with what is sometimes referred to as the ‘student journey’ or ‘learning pathway’. Most courses will include a comprehensive orientation module. Don’t skip over this section – it’s like missing the first episode of your favourite TV show!
4 Learn how to Navigate your Platform
Before accessing your material and content, explore the platform. This can mean finding out where to submit your assignments/tasks, and how to post questions on the chat boards or forum discussion.
5 Follow a Routine
Set aside regular time in your diary to login and view your course content. Syncing your study schedule with your online learning will ensure you view it like any other commitment.
6 Practise and Test Yourself
Make the most of online quizzes or self-marking tests. These help you test your knowledge and understanding of the course material, so resist the temptation to skip past them!
7 Download Your Course Material
Having a stored copy of your course notes can be very helpful. If you’re anything like me, printing them out and making notes on the hard copies can support the learning process.
8 Use the Support of Your Course Facilitator
Some online courses include time with an expert or course facilitator. This can take the form of live ‘chats’ or webinars. The key here is to come to these sessions well prepared. Know what it is you want to get out of the interactions, possibly mailing your questions ahead of the scheduled appointment. Make notes during the session, and remember the value of learning with others – their questions or forum posts could provide valuable insights and answers to questions you might have.
9 Take a Break
Don’t forget to take regular breaks. Watch an episode of your favourite show, go for a run or walk or grab a cup of coffee. You’ll return to the material refreshed and re-inspired.
10 Connect with Other Students
Remember that you are not alone! Reach out to your fellow course participants – a sense of community can make all the difference in an online learning environment.
Now that you know how to make the most of the online learning experience, it’s time to get cracking and choose your course!”
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