Studying Essentials – How to Master Your Online Course

Studying Essentials – How to Master Your Online Course

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So, you have taken the plunge and enrolled on online courses with qualifications. You are revved up, full of energy and commitment. Kudos!

But, slowly reality starts to creep in, and lasting the term of your online course is an uphill struggle. Thankfully, help is at hand with these five tips for success with online courses.

man on personal laptop

The Online Workplace

The online world is wide, varied and full of opportunities, but there are challenges, too. The good news is that with a few tweaks here and there, online home study courses are one of the most beneficial ways to upskill and bolster your CV.

To get the best out of online courses, you need to do the following.

Read the Syllabus Carefully
Some courses set deadlines by which time assignments, reports and projects must be completed, while others don’t. On one hand, no deadlines can be a good thing, but on the other, it means your learning and motivation can drift and get lost.

Rather than seeing ‘no deadlines’ as open ended, see it as an opportunity to set your own learning goals.

Top tip from students – create a study plan using an online calendar app that will then link with your email and your smart phone. Add plenty of detail to each week and month, setting reminders for when you want to have reached certain goals and learning milestones.

Refine and Hone Your Time Management Skills
Of all the skills you will learn with home study courses, time management will be critical to your success. This applies not only to this course but to future courses, as well as in the workplace and life in general.

As well as setting out a detailed study plan, you need to recognise when you have gaps in your day that could be used for studying. For example, our students tell us that 20 minutes spent reading a portion of course material is great for soaking up information and creating a response.

Top tip from students – with smart phones and tablets, it is possible to connect to online study materials ‘on the go’. This is a great way of sneaking more useful study time into your day.

Log on to Online Course Materials Regularly
You may have downloaded the course materials for your assignments and be working on these as per your study calendar, but online courses are online for a reason. They can be quickly and easily updated; tutors can leave important messages for students (and vice versa). Some courses also encourage students to log on and introduce themselves to fellow learners via forums and other tools.

If you don’t log on, it is a bit like enrolling for a class-based course and not bothering to turn up for lectures and thinking you can sail by just submitting your assignments at the end of the term.

Top tip from students – online learning is not about learning is isolation. Log on at least three times a week to check for updates, messages and for when you need support (or offer your support to fellow students).

Become Involved, Ask Questions, Use the Facilities
To get the best out of any learning experience, you need to engage. This true whether it is a home learning course online, a paper based course or a classroom based course.

That means taking ownership of your learning, and also asking questions of your tutor, partaking in a debate, and joining other online sessions.

Top tip from students – learning is a two-way process. As well as soaking up knowledge from others, why not share yours? Online learning is a fantastic and flexible way to learn, but there is no need to feel cut off or that it has less value than any other form of course or qualification. It is what you make it!

Remain Inspired!
No matter how you are studying – online or by attending college – there will be days when it all feels too much. You might be struggling with course content or you may have the ‘midterm’ blues where the end of the course just seems so far away.

When you feel like you are wading through treacle, you need to remember why you are doing this in the first place, what motivates and inspires you. Many students find that by remaining connected and asking people – tutors and fellow students, for example – for help, they tap into a world of fantastic support and knowledge.
Home learning courses are a great way of broadening your horizons. Why not take a closer look at the opportunities these courses offer?

Nick Cooper
Nick is NCC's resident blog author and covers a range of subjects, including teaching and health & social care. NCC is an international learning provider with over 20 years’ experience offering learning solutions. To date, NCC has engaged with over 20,000 employers, and delivered quality training to over half a million learners.
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