How to get the most out of online courses

Whilst we have no choice but to spend our formative years trapped in a classroom environment, for many of us this regimented style of learning is not the best way to learn. Most people find classrooms and set timetables to be incredibly restrictive and limiting to their studies.

That is why online courses are so popular…

Unlike the majority of college and university courses that have set deadlines, exams, and timetables; online courses offer you the flexibility to learn on your terms and fit your studies around your current work and social commitments.

Benefits of online courses

 You can start them at any time of the year 

college and university courses typically have starting times of September or January. After that, you will have to spend up to three years completing the course. Online courses offer you the freedom to start and finish them when you want. True, the average online course can take 12-24 months; however, if you set your mind to it, you can finish it as fast – or as slow – as you want. Likewise, each module is typically assessed via an assignment, so once you have finished one part, you can move straight on to the next. NOTE: some online courses do contain exams that will need to be completed at designated exam centres. These exam centres will offer your courses exams across multiple times of the year. Your job will be to find a local centre with the best time for you.

Online courses are more affordable

 Most online courses can be paid in segments, allowing you to better budget.

 Online courses will provide you with all the books and resources you need

The best online courses will supply you with all the resources and materials you need to complete your course; saving you the additional cost of having to buy your reading materials.

Whilst your learning won’t take place in a classroom, you will still have the support of a dedicated personalised tutor 

These tutors can be contacted 24/7 via their online platform and are usually experts who have worked in the field you’re interested in.

 You can tailor your learning to suit your own schedule 

The biggest luxury of doing an online course is that you can determine when, where, and for how long your studies will occur. For instance, if you learn better in 30-minute segments, then you can slot these segments into the most appropriate parts of your day. Likewise, you won’t be limited to a single lesson to learn the material. Instead, if you struggle to comprehend a particular module, you can spend as long as you need to absorb the information before you move on.

 You can learn where you feel most comfortable 

On the sofa, in bed, in your office, a café, or at your local library; you can choose your learning setting and optimise your learning experience as you will be completely relaxed and comfortable in that space.

 They are fully accredited and recognised 

Typically online courses are the equivalent of their offline version and are accredited and recognised as such by employers. However, before you commit to the first online course you see it is essential that you first research the online course supplier to ensure that they are the real deal and that their courses are fully accredited.

The downside to online learning

Whilst distance learning has its perks, it is important to remember the following before you commit:

Motivation 

Without a classroom or a physical teacher to motivate you, you will need to feel confident that you will stick to your self-set study schedule. This means, if you are prone to delaying work until the last minute, then an online course may not be right for you, especially if staying focused and motivated is a struggle.

Deadlines 

The deadlines given on online courses are a suggestion/guidance so you know on average how long the course may take. Without a set deadline to encourage you to get your work done, you could easily fall into a pattern of postponing your work.

Not every course can be converted into an online version

There are some courses that don’t translate into an online format. For instance, becoming a doctor, physicist or veterinarian cannot be achieved through online courses alone. Instead, online courses in first aid, psychology, and childcare could provide you with a solid foundation of knowledge that you can then use to pursue a degree in these subjects. NOTE: online courses generally cover GCSEs, A-levels, Diplomas, and NVQs (Level 5s and 6s are considered the equivalent of Degrees). For higher-level subjects, you may still need to attend university.

Online courses are only a stepping stone 

Whilst the majority of online courses we offer easily translate into the workplace; more specialised subjects/careers may ask you to gain further experience/qualifications before they’ll consider employing you.

Tips for getting the most out of your online course

Like any job or course, it is important that you research, plan and know all the facts so you can maximise your results.

To help you on this journey, we have devised a list of tips that will ensure that you get the most out of your online course:

  1. What will you use this online course for – What is its purpose? For instance, is your goal to enhance your existing skills so you can apply for a promotion, or do you want to change your career? No matter your reasons, it is important that you first understand exactly how you plan to utilise it. EXAMPLE: you want to become a dog groomer and have enrolled in canine studies. Whilst this course will give you a decent overview of dogs, their behaviours, and their bodies; to become a professional dog groomer you will need to have completed a series of dog grooming and animal care courses.
  2. Research the course supplier – Are they accredited? Is the course they provide accepted by employers? There are still some employers who won’t accept online courses alone for you to get the job e.g. counselling and teachers. Whilst the online courses available in these fields can be used to support your experience; some places won’t accept these qualifications alone. As such, you should always check to see what employers are looking for – in terms of education and experience – and if the courses you’re looking at are fully accredited and accepted.
  3. Plan your study time – This doesn’t have to be as regimented as a school timetable; however, you need to plan your study time to ensure you remain focused and motivated. For this reason, you need to consider your best times to study, taking into account your work/family schedule and the times of day you are most productive. If for example, you know that you’ll absorb more information first thing in the morning, then set aside time each day to get your work done. Likewise, if you don’t want to be studying every single day; set aside specific days and times to get it done, whilst also giving yourself back-up slots should something interfere with your scheduled slot.
  4. Find a location where you feel comfortable and relaxed – When choosing a space to study, you need to find a balance between being comfortable and relaxed whilst ensuring that you are free from temptation and distractions. For example: if you find having a TV in the same room as you distracting then choose a TV-free space. Likewise, if you know that you’re liable to play on your phone if it is next to you, then put it somewhere else to eliminate temptation.
  5. Store your study materials somewhere close and accessible – To help minimise distractions and the habit of stopping and starting, make sure everything you need to complete your course is stored in the same accessible place. Utilising a plastic box and folders will ensure that you can keep your work tidy and easy to find at all times.
  6. Understand your preferred learning method – Whilst one person may find reading aloud helps them to remember information; others may prefer to use mind maps, tables, bullet points, and repetitive writing techniques to help them learn. No matter your preferred learning method, just make sure you recognise which supports you best and then utilise it. If writing is key, make sure you have got plenty of pens and paper. If speaking aloud helps information to sink in better, ensure that you study somewhere that is silent and free from interruptions.
  7. Plan your journey – If you have got an ultimate goal in mind behind these courses, then we recommend planning and ensuring every part of your journey runs smoothly. For instance, if you want to work in childcare, first analyse what qualifications, skills, and experience you have got first, and then determine what will benefit you. Likewise, don’t be tempted to jump ahead by registering for the highest course first. With certain careers, you will need the lower qualifications first i.e. Level 2 diplomas, before you can embark on the Level 3 and 4 courses.
  8. Never assume something taught in the lower courses will get repeated at the upper levels.

And that is it! By taking all of the above into consideration, you can ensure that your online learning experience is a productive one.

So if you are interested in pursuing the distance learning route, why not take a look at our range of online courses today? With courses available in animal care, teaching, the arts, administration, business, IT, and law (to name a few), you can use these courses to bolster your prospects and get you one step closer to your dream job. 

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