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Is Online Learning Right for You?

5 Tips for Deciding Whether Online Education Is for You

Online education approaches pedagogy with a modern twist. Earning a degree without sacrificing your existing job or some other responsibility that takes up a lot of your time is not that difficult anymore. In spite of all the benefits it brings to the table, you must consider a few important factors before you decide whether online learning is right for you or not.

While it's true that gaining an online degree is now easier than ever, it is definitely not simpler. Also, online learning is not the best alternative for everyone. Many students take up online courses falling to the attraction of independence, convenience and flexibility, but soon realize their mistakes. You have to consider factors like maintaining good self-discipline, committing to self-learning, understanding the importance of good communication and participation to succeed in online education.

To help you decide if online education is right for you, we put together five things to take into account when considering online degree programs. If you’ve the following traits, you’re truly on your way to success in online learning environment.

1. Commitment to Self-Learning

Online education is all about self-learning. You should realize that unlike traditional classrooms there are no teachers or supervisors to look over your shoulders all the time. You will not have frequent face-to-face discussions with your faculty. So, it’s important that you take up self-learning seriously. You need to commit to a regular study time and follow it strictly.

The first step for succeeding in self-learning is to set realistic goals. You know yourself better, so take decisions within achievable limits. For e.g. if you know, you find it difficult to stay up at nights, then don’t zero in on some hours of the night as your preferred time of study.

You need set your own goals and find a way to achieve them. By choosing a subject of your interest, you have already taken the first step towards self-learning. Online learning will require you to satisfy your learning needs all by yourself. Though you will be provided with the required study material for a particular subject, you will have to find your own learning methods. It can be note taking or reading aloud, or something else. You need to find what suits you best.

Don't expect you will understand everything easily. You will have to give yourself time and trust your efforts, before you reap the benefits. Try and avoid rote learning and do not put too much pressure on yourself; you can only absorb a limited amount of information at a given given time. Be dedicated to making the most of your online education; this will surely help you achieve your goals.

2. Inherent Self-discipline

Practicing self-discipline is the key to success in online education. Most of the times lack of a regular study routine and supervision may lead to failure. So try different techniques to learn and put in more effort to learn something new every day; this will keep you motivated.

Most of the online classes allow you to log in anytime and participate and comment on ongoing discussions. But this shouldn't become the reason for taking things easy. So, make sure you show up for all online discussions on time.

3. Efficient Time Management

You need to maintain a regular study routine and stick to it. Self-discipline and time management go together. Manage your tasks on a regular basis and track your progress. Maintain a log book, wherein you can list down the tasks according to their priority. Looking back at your progress and achievements will give a sense of motivation to keep going.

Make sure you choose a distraction free environment to study. Keep away all possible distractions like cellphone, games, log off your chatting sessions and don’t waste your time surfing. Stick to your routine, no matter what.

Stay focused on your goals. If you feel you are straying and losing confidence, reflect where you are going wrong and manage your time better. Reward yourself when you achieve a desired goal; this will keep you going.

4. Penchant for Technology

An online student should be comfortable with technology. It is needless to say that you will need regular access to a computer with a good internet connection. Most of the online education programs will have very supportive faculty, academic counselors, tutoring services, and perhaps a great online library as well. Use these facilities as frequently as possible. Online courses use live chats, video conferencing and instant messaging to conduct classes and hold discussions. Make sure you’re comfortable with these methods of interaction.

Before you enroll into any online course, equip your computer with the technology and software that allows you to navigate the course. You need essential software such as a word processor, a spreadsheet application, a pdf reader and probably few more installed on your computer. Also, make sure you have access to basic resources like printers, headphones and a web cam. This will ensure you spend less time trying to solve technical problems during the course of study.

Sometimes, your brain might struggle with a particular problem. Try using technology to solve this problem. You can use different techniques to revise the problem like listening to a podcast or an online lecture, reading an eBook, or watching a video.

Use technology to make learning fun. Remember, you learn through exposure and not by forcing yourself to cram down information. Take full advantage of internet, music, and podcasts and obviously the traditional books and magazines, to understand your subject better.

5. Effective Writing Skills

In online learning, the primary method of communication is writing. So, it is important that you are comfortable in expressing your ideas through the written word. Also good writing skills have always been appreciated by employers. So, taking up online courses will allow you to hone your writing skills and increase your employment prospects.

Also, online classes will require you to listen to lectures and take notes accordingly and students are expected to understand a large amount of information that is mainly available in written text. So it is important that you hold good reading comprehension skills to derive maximum value from your study materials.

The question, ‘Is online learning right for you?’ can only be answered if you take a close hard look at yourself, and judge your skillsets and whether they are a perfect fit for an online course. Ultimately, you are your best advisor; you know what suits you best and which learning method will fit your style. If you follow proper methods and possess the right qualities, online education can be a convenient and rewarding alternative to traditional education.

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