Whether you are a school-leaver, university graduate, single parent, overworked professional, or high-powered executive, flexible online training and education programs let you learn new skills at your own pace and in any location, as long as you can access the Internet (and even when you can’t, study material can often be browsed offline).
If you’ve never tried this form of (largely self-driven) education though, it’s important not to interpret “convenient” to mean “easy”.
To succeed with online study, you need to put in just as much effort and commitment as with any other mode of learning. Indeed, online study can be hard to adjust to, requiring a self-disciplined approach and the ability to manage and balance your time.
Rob’s Tips for Successful Online Study
Rob O’Byrne knows a fair bit about online education, since as you may already know, he founded an online supply chain school to help professionals gain the pragmatic industry knowledge often omitted from more academic programs.
Are you thinking about joining Rob’s Supply Chain Leaders Academy (blended learning program), or signing up for Our Supply Chain Secrets (supply chain e-Classes)? If so, or you have plans to enrol on any other online education program, you might find the following three golden rules helpful to follow, especially if you haven’t tried online learning before.
1. Home is Not Always the Best Classroom
Before you decide to conduct most of your online study activity from home, consider first if that will really be the best learning environment. Some people have no problem studying from home, while others find it too easy to let distractions get in the way.
If you’re in the latter category, you might want to try studying in a different environment, such as an Internet cafe, coffee shop, or library.
The background noise in public buildings may actually be less distracting than your television, family, and those other home activities that you perceive as important (or that you just secretly want to use as an excuse for study-procrastination).
2. Don’t Overindulge in Flexibility
Your chosen course may or may not require you to log into a classroom or attend online lectures according to a predetermined schedule. If it doesn’t, you might find it helpful to fix your own daily or weekly study schedule, with defined start and finish times.
Developing a set routine for yourself can really help recreate the sense of duty that you would have if you were attending physical classes in a brick-and-mortar establishment.
If you choose to take a more flexible approach—as you might need to if you’re juggling studies with work and family life—at least try to block out some set times each week to review what you’ve learned, and especially to complete any time-bound assignments required for course-completion.
3. Do Take Breaks From Online Study
The accessibility of online classes and the convenience of studying from your own home are two of the major advantages of e-learning, but they can combine to become a double-edged sword.
It’s all too easy to forget about taking regular breaks and to sit at your computer from dawn until dusk (or vice versa), especially if you find your topic exciting and immersive, as is often the case with vocational and business studies.
Unfortunately, like too much of anything, study-marathons can lead to burn-out, which is not only harmful to your education and career ambitions, but also to your physical and emotional health.
Be aware of the hours you are studying and take short, regular breaks. Try to take a ten-minute break after every hour of study and make sure you spend those ten minutes doing something completely different. Go outside and get some air, exercise, meditate, eat and drink or even watch TV (as long as you have the self-discipline to switch the box off after ten minutes).
Final Thoughts … And a Myth Busted
As a final point to note, some people assert that it takes a certain learning style or personality type to be successful with online study. As any member of Supply Chain Leaders Academy or Our Supply Chain Secrets will tell you though, that’s really a myth.
The beauty of multimedia and Internet connectivity is that online course content is available to suit anyone. As for the nuances of online, as compared to traditional education, it’s just a matter of making some adaptations to suit your personality and preferences.
For example, if you don’t like the idea of studying alone, try to join a program with a friend or colleague, and share the journey together, or look for fellow students to correspond and collaborate with online.
Whatever you do though, don’t be afraid to try your hand at online study. It’s an affordable and accessible learning investment that could help your career take off, or take it in a new and exciting direction.