15 Things You Would Wish You Knew Before Taking an Online Course
The reward for taking an online course cannot be overemphasized. Those who juggle between work and family and have little or no time to acquire some knowledge are in an advantaged position to take an online course.
Parents looking for skills that could help them increase the family standard of living, professionals looking for skills to advance in their career, students trying to earn supporting skills, or anyone who is interested in acquiring extra skills could take online courses.
Online courses may not give you exactly what on-campus courses give you because they are different in their design and outlook. The reasons for acquiring both could also differ based on the individuals involved.
Keep scrolling down as we unfold you with detailed information on what you should know concerning online courses.
- Online courses may not be an easy path: Included in the frequently asked questions about online courses is if they are easier than traditional courses. The answer is simply no. They might look easier from the outside, but like the traditional classes, they have their own unique challenges. Both require you to put in the effort, time, and concentration.
- You will need technology to adapt to online courses: Personal computers, phones, or tablets could all be involved in online courses. In fact, you cannot access online courses without technological gadgets. Your gadgets must be internet-supported and reliable because you need to stay connected to be able to learn. You need to take out time and learn how to find your way through the courses before the commencement of the class. This is because they are all designed in different formats and accessing them differs from course to course. You will need to ascertain if your school has reliable resources for distance learning too.
- You must participate in group projects: Thinking group projects are not necessary is not the best way of thinking. It is even simpler to handle online group projects; with collaborative tools like videoconferencing, you can all come together and do your assignment. This will also afford you the opportunity to see and interact with your classmates.
- You are not going to jump into buses and cabs: Compared to traditional classes, you are going to learn in the comfy of your home or office, or even while you are relaxing somewhere with a cup of coffee. This could save you some precious time and stress. It is not always easy rushing to the classroom; so much could be involved with endless distractions.
- Excellent time management skills are required: You may feel you have all the time in your archive and so, procrastination is imminent. It is solely your responsibility to manage your time and assign each programme an adequate time. Expect online courses to take the same amount of time as traditional courses. Having the flexibility of time may be a trap or a dangerous slope down the hill. You need to be careful not to allow distractions to build a nest in your tent. That aside, some assignments require strict deadlines. Some classes have a specific time schedule for them. Do not wait until the last minute before doing your work. These and more must be put into consideration when applying for an online course. Therefore, for you to make the best out of learning, proper time management must be put into play.
- Your effort is in the same line as your success: You need a great deal of self-motivation to remaining on top of the game. You must work hard in an online class, just as you do with an offline class. Your grades are determined by how much effort you put into your studies. Serious, productive, and disciplined students are rewarded with success at the end of the period.
- Real professors coordinate online classes: Your classes are taught by professors who are grounded in the courses. This is why you should ensure that the school you are enrolling in is accredited. You can check their website for such information. The professors teaching online courses are also involved in traditional classes. The only difference is that you can only get in touch with them via online platforms like discussion boards, emails, and lecture sessions.
- You cannot cheat in online exams: There are special tools designed to monitor the exam process so as to ensure that the integrity of the school is maintained. People usually ask if there is no possibility of students cheating during an online examination. The answer is no, except the school is not properly equipped to handle such. There are even situations where your presence is needed on the campus during the examination period. Some schools ensure their students take their examinations in their campuses. In addition, there is an internet tool called proctor; it is used by online platforms to access the webcam on your computer or track every click you made during the examination. This is the same thing as having an invigilator over the class.
- Online degrees vary: Not all online degrees have the same qualifications. They have their different grades, depending on the school that issues the certificate. The school must be accredited before the value of their certificate is determined. Furthermore, the brand of the school must be put into consideration. The higher the quality of the school, the more acceptable their certificate is.
- Online courses might be cheaper: To lower the cost of your education, you might consider online programmes. The cost of running an online course is relatively cheaper than a traditional school. You may also reduce your reliance on student loans by offering some low-cost courses online.
- The cost of offering online courses is not the same: You need to do a price check on the online course you are going for. Different courses have different price tags and so, you need to know what is involved before applying for anyone.
- Try your best to build a relationship with your professor: Not seeing face to face is not an excuse not to have a considerate relationship with your instructor. Reach out to him or her and get to know each other on a basic level. Creating this relationship will help you to reach out once you encounter any challenge with your course. Send an email to him or her at the commencement of the lectures. Address him by his formal title, give a little introduction of yourself and let him know how excited you are to be under his tutelage. This will keep the relationship rolling and before the end of the class, you will be glad you did.
- You need to make notes while classes are going on: Don’t think there is no need for that because you can always revisit the class. Your notes will be very handy and helpful during examinations. You could cut yourself off the stress of going through the whole session in order to study. With your notes, you can prepare yourself for the exams. By disciplining yourself, you can jot down good points on the go.
- Transfer of credit facility: It is very much possible for you to transfer online credits received during your courses to a traditional degree programme. You can read it again. If the online course you took is the right one, it can be very helpful in your traditional degree programmes. You could even skip a few courses or semesters from your educational programme, making your course easier. You should find out how possible it is from your academic advisor or the school official website before making a decision.
- You might need to sharpen your writing skills: Online classes seem to be friendlier with written words. A poorly written work could earn you less mark or even invalidate what you spent so many hours to write. Discussion boards allow users to interact via written words while sharing their thoughts and ideas. When your chats are filled with poorly written words, it might leave a question mark on your personality. Well-written responses boost your confidence and also prove your understanding of the subject matter.
Do This to Make the Most of an Online Course
If you are already taking an online course or considering taking one, you might want to take a look at the following tips on how to enjoy the ride.
- Hold yourself accountable. Goal setting is one of the ways to hold yourself accountable. At the beginning of the programme, set goals on what to achieve and strategies to achieve them. Allot time to each of your goals and make sure you regularly check yourself. For instance, if you are given an assignment, you don’t wait till the deadline before working it out. Therefore, you need to assign a particular time out of your schedule to solve it. Ensure you keep to the time. Shun procrastination. If you find it difficult to keep to it, you might consider getting an accountability partner in a coursemate or someone disciplined enough to help you out.
- Get a study space. It is better to create space in your house where you can stay to learn. Set it up like a workspace or office and ensure that it has a high-speed internet connection. Get your required textbooks and arrange them on your table. A headphone or an earpiece will be necessary to listen to the lectures or discussions. This is especially needed in a somewhat noisy environment.
Here, it is important for you to know the type of environment that boosts your learning productivity. You might prefer a corner in a coffee shop. You might want an environment with a soft music playing at the background. You might also go with a totally serene environment. Wherever you choose, make sure you are going to enjoy the flow.
- Figure out the best way you learn. You could be a morning, afternoon or evening person. If you are a morning person, studying first thing in the morning will be the best for you. If you are a night owl, it might be better to visit your computer after dinner. If both morning and night are not the right time for you, carve out time during the midday to study. While thinking out the best time to learn, consider your schedule and decide what time is best to assign to your lectures. Moreover, if you are someone who prefers text to audio or video, you might think of transcribing all your audio and video notes to text. You learn best by listening? Make out time to replay all your audio- and video-based courses for proper assimilation.
- Active participation is not an option. Posting a question when you lack clarity, responding to questions, commenting on a classmate’s work, and so on are ways to actively participate in classes. Make sure to check in every now and then. There is usually a class discussion thread, make sure you are part of it. Do not bottle up your feeling if you are not getting the best out of the class. Speak up, so as not to fall behind. And if it requires that you meet your professor, email him or her immediately.
- Network with your classmates. It is possible to feel like you are learning alone. This is normal, but has a remedy. Most online courses are designed in such a way as to promote collaboration with professors and fellow students. Introduce yourself to the class and engage in the discussions. You could also create a virtual study group and learn in groups. This could be more useful during the examination.
Does an Online Course Guarantee Success?
Yes, it does, depending on your definition of success. If you are someone who is seeking to enjoy a better life, you have great opportunities for you to achieve it with just a computer and internet, right in your home. A large number of online programmes are now accredited and subsequently recognized and accepted by potential employers than they used to be. With your online certificate, you can walk in confidence to any office and submit your resume.
People with dependent families and tight work schedules can now find a way to meet up with their academic demands without having to disrupt any activities. Your busy life is no longer an excuse for not keeping up with lessons and assignments because there are online archives where the lectures are kept and they can be accessed from anywhere.
Aside saving money on transportation, online courses save some costs for the students. Such fees as classroom, board, books, and other learning material are no longer needed. Similarly, tuition is usually lesser than a traditional school.
Online Learning Platforms to Consider
It is believed that by 2022 the size of the online learning industry will amount to an estimation of $243 billion. This shows that people are choosing the options of online learning to upgrade their knowledge. Below is a rundown of some online learning platforms you can choose from:
- Udemy: is the biggest online learning platform that allows anyone to learn from its pool of over twenty thousand courses. Students get to choose their choice of courses which are taught by the best professors in the world. It is one of the successful online learning platforms with numerous content creation tools like video notes, PowerPoint, and PDF documents. There are more than 12 million students using the platform. The courses are free, though it has many paid courses with certificates offered upon completion.
- Coursera: Coursera is another popular learning platform. It is unique because it partners with renowned universities and organizations of the world to offer a wide range of courses. Their tutors are the best when it comes to in-demand skills. The most interesting part of it is that some of the courses are free. However, there are paid courses.
- Alison: Alison is also among the best online platforms. They focus on technology, business, and health. Furthermore, the courses are of school curriculum standards. You can obtain a diploma in any field of study in Alison or take a one-time course.
- Stanford: Stanford University offers online courses to distant learners. All the courses offered in the university are offered on this platform. It also offers some courses on Coursera platform, but this particular platform is designed for international students and distant learners.
It is good to note that all the platforms mentioned are free for application. All you need is to go to the platform, sign up, and follow instructions. There are more than a thousand online learning platforms that are established by top universities like Imperial College and top organizations like Google and LinkedIn.
Online Courses you May Want to Learn from
Here are some of the free courses you can learn from. These courses range from business to digital marketing, coding, leadership, and so on.
- Content Marketing
- Social Media Marketing
- SEO Training Course
- Google Analytics
- Online Video Marketing Course
- Video Storytelling for Social Media
- Learn to Code
- Intro to Computer Science
- App Development for iPhone
- Machine Learning
- Conquering the Fear of Public Speaking
- Learning How to Learn: Powerful Mental Tools to Help You Master Subjects
- Communication Skills: Persuasion and Motivation
- Successful Negotiation: Essential Strategies and Skills
- Conflict Resolution Skills
- Free Online MBA by Smartly
- Foundations of Business Strategy
- How to Build a Startup
- Stock Market Investing for Beginners
- Corporate Finance by New York University
- Adobe Illustrator for Absolute Beginners
Why Choose an Online Course?
There are varieties of reasons to opt for an online course. Some could be as a result of its affordability. Others could be because it gives learners the flexibility of learning from anywhere. This helps them to go about their normal business and still find time to learn.
In addition to the flexibility, cost and convenience, students find it a better learning option, especially those who can easily adapt to the learning condition. Some of the reasons are outlined below:
- Students learn better in online platforms. It was discovered by IBM that students learn five times better than traditional classes. This could be due to the freedom to be in full control of their learning. This helps them to work at their own speed and time.
- Students’ retention capacity is high. Online learning has been discovered to increase the retention capacity of students from 25% to 60%. Their ability to learn at their own pace helps them to take it one step at a time. They could also dash back to the course materials in areas they did not understand.
- The time investment required is not so much. You cannot compare the time invested in traditional learning platforms to those in online classes. You spend time going to different lecture halls, waiting for tutors, and other stuff while in a physical classroom. Whereas in an online class, it is not so. You can even take a few minutes off the learning time to attend to one or two things.
- Distractions are reduced. If you have been able to master your learning environment, it will help you to completely focus on your learning. This will help to improve the engagements of the students in class activities.
- There are more choices. With the increasing demand for online education, the availability of online courses has been on the increasing side. The range of courses provided by schools has been broadened. You can choose between structured programmes with set deadlines or the one that gives you ample time to study at your own pace.
- It guarantees a better life balance. With a physical learning platform, students are faced with numerous activities at the same time, of which they must attend to. There are times students are faced with some challenges that would hinder their movement, such as sickness. With online courses, they may choose a better time to learn, instead of totally missing the class.
Whatever your reason for learning, it is good to learn new skills because you will have a better competitive advantage in your workplace or field of expertise.