Online Learning

Online Learning: 8 Must Know Success Formulae

The 2019 pandemic has led most learning institutions to begin offering courses online partially or fully. In a similar manner, many people have shifted to studies offered online. Online learning comes with many advantages including studying at home close to one’s family.

However, one needs the interest to stay motivated throught the course of study.

In fact, some learning institutions pride themselves in offering on-demand lectures which students can access any time and anywhere. This means that learning for most students is self-paced.

However, online learning may lead to students not having the social interactions that a traditional classroom offers. Consequently, students taking online courses may become disinterested in the process of learning and sometimes in the course.

I know many of my friends who started studying online but failed to complete their courses because at some point they lost the vigour and motivation to continue.

Most of them started their online studies during the 2019 Covid pandemic but lost their motivation soon or later. Motivation is the key word here. How can you stay motivated when learning online?

In the classroom, you have a teacher or lecturer to engage you in the subject and other students to socialize with. When it’s just you and your laptop, you’ll need to take charge of your learning experience.

Online learning and Zambian universities

If you are studying online and you have started feeling like postponing that course, this article is for you because I have outlined some tips to keep you going. Fortunately, you are not alone in this lone road.

Before I give you tips, let me mention that most universities have introduced online learning even for students enrolled in traditional courses offered in class.

Different universities like  Rusangu University and the University of Zambia where I once taught as an part time lecturer are even administering final exams online.

Other universities offering online learning in Zambia include the University of Lusaka, ZCAS, the Copperbelt University, Mulungushi University and Chalimbana University. The number of universities offering online courses is increasing.

This may indicate that there will be more and more online course offerings from different universities and institutions and would-be students must brace themselves for times of full-fledged online learning.

Discipline for online learning

I have mentioned earlier that anyone learning in a traditional class with others will find motivation from teachers and classmates. But if you are studying online, you will be alone most of the time. This means that you will spend most of your study or learning time alone away from instructors who will teach you virtually.

It is even worse if you have on-demand videos for your courses. There will be less to no human interaction. This is what brings in the laxness in students studying online.

Once the laxness begins to kick in, there are certain things you can do to stay on course and to complete your studies on time. You need to discipline yourself.

Discipline here means you need to stay in control of your online learning. To do this, there are nine principles that you need to keep.

Set goals

Keep your purpose firmly in mind. Remember your main objectives, whether you want to finish a short course, diploma or degree or just need to acquire knowledge in an area of study.

In short, you need to know why you enrolled in that course and focus on that. I know it’s easy to keep your goals in your mind and not on your deeds.

I am a victim of this. But remember what sent you to that course in the first place, it should motivate you to be on course.

Plan your week

The reason why some people fail to complete their online courses is because they do not set time for their online studies.

Living in one of the busiest cities, I know that life sometimes can be hard. Sometimes we find it hard to sit at our computers because there is too much for us on the table. However, you need to remember that only you can give yourself time to study.

One of the easiest ways to plan your week is to block out time for your most important activities. Tackle demanding tasks during the hours when you’re usually at peak performance.

As you plan, you need to know which tasks are important and urgent, important but not urgent, not important but urgent and not important and not urgent.

Establish routines

Most of you boast about multitasking. I can tell you that multitasking is old fashioned. What’s trending is multiple tasks. There is a difference. When you multitask, you are doing a lot of things at once. When you do your multiple tasks, you are engaging in different tasks each at a time. This calls for planning as mentioned earlier in the previous principle.

Cutting down on daily decisions can make you more efficient. Adopt habits like doing your assigned readings one hour before bedtime.

Limit distractions

Connected to the previous principle is avoiding distractions. How many times have you picked up your phone to read a paragraph but before you read that paragraph you see FB or TikTok notifications? Many of us first decide to check the notifications.

From one FB notification to another and that’s how you are distracted from your studying goal. Focus your attention on your online learning.

I have decided to switch off my social media notifications on my phone because they distract me. Keep your phone and TV turned off during school hours. I have seen people who use WhatsApp, Facebook and twitter while studying. Remember your goal.

Start small

Here I must confess. I am one person who wanted to study web developmentwhile studying for my PhD. Not that these two cannot be done concurrently. But I was over Zambitious. I realized the best way to start was to start small by doing short courses that would give me an idea of what to expect in the big courses.

And boy, after doing a lot of short courses, I was exposed to the precursory language needed to understand hard stuff. They say, baby steps build momentum and make big projects seem less overwhelming.

Another way to look at this is to start small by breaking down your tasks into small chunks of work. Break your work down into specific measurable tasks. You might spend a morning outlining your research paper or summarizing your notes.

Treat online studies as important

When I was studying for my PhD, at some point, I was in Zambia (my country) for more than two years away from my university and my academic supervisors, but I always woke up in the morning, took a shower and started doing my studies.

Dressing up for my studies put me in a serious mood. I would always dress like I was going to my HDR office which I was given at the University of Newcastle, Australia. Putting on pants probably made me more productive.

It was just a play on my mind.  Combing your hair even when you’re alone and off camera can make you focus on what you are doing. If you are not in formal employment, treat your studies like your employment. Endeavor to spend not less than a few hours per day on your studies.

Perform reviews

Work on your study skills. Ongoing reviews of your class materials will help you to remember what you’ve studied and may help you earn higher grades. You can give yourself some self-tests to see if you understand what you are learning.

I have taken some of these online courses whose content I have since forgotten because I never tested the depth of understanding I acquired from them.

For all online courses that you take, it’s important that you acquire knowledge and skills from them. It is very tempting to go through the content to get a certificate and not for knowledge and skills acquisition.  

Remember that your certificate is useless if you cannot demonstrate what you are learning.

The only way you can remember what you are studying is when you look at past question papers or write your own test questions.

I am 100% positive that if you get it right in the tests, you will be motivated knowing that your work is not in vain.Research shows that practice tests are one of the most effective ways to learn. Your tutor may provide them, or you can write your own.

Doing this will also prepare you for the exam.

Create priorities.

Respect your limits. If you’re adding coursework on top of your other responsibilities, give yourself adequate time for sleep and other essentials. Scratch some other items off your to do list if possible.

Having Fun with Online Learning

Online learning

Some of my friends tell me that they are done with school because school is torturous. But I like the challenge that comes with school. I find it painful but fun. So how can you just have fun studying online? I suggest doing the following:

Connect with others. At the beginning, I said that online learning can be lonesome. But it shouldn’t be. You can still enjoy a sense of community while studying online.

Most online course platforms allow you to interact with your tutors and other students. Ask your tutor about their communication preferences so you can stay in touch and ask questions.

On most online learning platforms, you can ask questions within the course platform or on a separate community group. Participate in student chat rooms and virtual study groups.

Decorate your space. Designate an area for your school activities with aesthetics and ergonomics in mind. Display your favorite photos or a green plant.

Ensure that you can maintain correct posture while reading and typing. I cannot emphasize the importance of finding a comfortable place to work from. Studying online means spending more hours sitting in from of your computer.

If you are not comfortable, you may end up having health problems.

Reward yourself. Give yourself incentives to excel. Maybe you’ll want to order something delicious for dinner each time you get an A grade.  

Maybe you’d like to spend an hour reading novels for each hour you spend solving math problems. This increases the spirit of gratitude.

Take breaks. Building adequate downtime into each day will help you to reduce stress and achieve more. Take a ten-minute break each hour. Extend your lunch hour so you can go for a walk or lift weights. You can also use the Pomodoro Technique.

After learning how it works, you can find the timer here.

Share support. Ask your family and friends for the help you need. If your kids are attending school online, do your homework together. If your coworkers are signed up for the same course, stick around for a virtual happy hour or coffee date afterwards.

Concluding remarks

I end my case. I have been there, and I have found comfort in applying these principles. We may differ in the way we get away with pressure that comes with online learning but most of these principles can help you.

Earn a certificate online or use your time at home to deepen your knowledge about any subjects that interest you. B

eing able to motivate yourself will help you to persevere and succeed at online learning.

Please leave your valuable comment or question in the comments section below. If you like this and other articles, please share so that others can also learn.

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