10 tips to help you get the most from online learning

Online learning has opened the doors to all kinds of opportunities. If you’ve previously found it difficult to take part in training or education because of work or care commitments, or because of the financial cost, you might find that online learning sweeps many of those barriers away.

But it can bring its own challenges, whether that’s finding the time, the space – or even the motivation. Your course may require you to do a lot of work on your own, or to join an online session at a particular time. You might need to learn how to use unfamiliar technology.

The good news is, all those challenges can be overcome. Here are ten tips from our member learning team to help you make online learning easier for yourself.

1. Take it seriously

Remember that online learning is valuable, the same as any other learning: your time and motivation are important for achieving the learning outcomes.

2. Claim the time you’re entitled to

Many union activists have the right to paid time off to undertake training for their role – and that goes for online training too. Speak to your employer and/or your branch education co-ordinator. It’s much better to get it sorted out before the course begins!

3. Take a short cut

Start by bookmarking your course access page to make it easy to find.

4. Use your time wisely…

Don’t overcommit yourself. Be realistic about how much time you can allocate for learning. You might find it useful to allocate a specific time for it, such as an hour every Thursday morning or evening.

5. … and protect that time

Think of ways to mitigate disturbances: tell family members it’s your learning time, turn the phone ringer off, avoid checking emails, ask your colleagues not to drop by etc.

6. Think about your surroundings

If you do your course at home, find a place where the internet access works reliably, and you have a comfortable and quiet space. If you are at the workplace, is it possible to move somewhere else if your normal workspace is too crowded and noisy?

7. Experiment!

Some people like to listen to music playing in the background or wear noise-cancelling headphones to help them concentrate. Maybe grabbing a cup of tea or coffee to start with is a nice routine to help kickstart each learning session?

8. Make materials work for you

Many people benefit from taking notes either by hand or online to help with their thinking, making connections and remembering things. Or try making a mind map. Printing things may sound like an attractive idea, but it can also be wasteful and expensive use of printer ink and paper. Would a screen shot be of help instead?

9. Set yourself small targets

You’ve already set yourself a big target – completing this course! Setting yourself smaller targets along the way can help keep you motivated and provide a real sense of progress. Don’t be ashamed to make it as tiny as you need to make it achievable. You opened the course page after a week of avoiding it? That’s worth celebrating! You can set a bigger one tomorrow.

For example: Today I will… By the end of the week I will… By the end of the month I will etc…

10. Look after yourself

Eat and sleep well before working on your course and remember to take regular breaks from the computer screen.