Distance studying with MOOC, online seminars and conferences enter deeper and deeper into students’ lives. They can and should be used with personal profits. Moreover, they fit different goals: self-development, personal growth, will to study something new or just to have any hobby.
Possibilities are great, but why statistics show only 4% of starting participants finish their chosen course even if to analyze such a popular online platform as “Coursera”?
Without a doubt, there can be different reasons, but it happens due to a human factor very often: no time, not enough discipline, one forgets about it… This makes the following question actual: how to consider all the nuances and study from online courses effectively?
Turn Lacks into Advantages
Distance learning has its own strengths and weaknesses. One of the negative features is that, unlike with the traditional studying, all organizational problems have to be solved by you personally. Of course, there is a great profit hidden in this fact: it is you who decides when, where and for how long you study, you are not connected to any time and place. But mostly, this is a lack. Even those who have their job organized and know some things about time management do not always have enough will to break their habits and to start studying during their free time. Nobody will have easy time here.
But at the same time, no supernatural efforts are needed in order to learn yourself new things online effectively. Yes, the receipt of success is individual, but main components of it are available absolutely for everyone.
Main hints and techniques of effective learning had been formed quite a long time ago. But many of them just are not adjusted for needs of Internet education and can’t be used at their full scale due to that fact. Nevertheless, there exist ways to squeeze maximum results from online course and to gain useful knowledge and skills, even for those who have forgotten how to study decades ago.
Methodic, or What to Know “Before”
Before you start learning itself, you should provide some preparational job with yourself and courses. So:
Choose Interesting Courses
After you look through a list of courses available on at least five most popular online platforms, you can get a severe headache because of their variety and “necessity”. Thoughts appearing in your head look like that: “It would be great to learn programming… financial management will help me control my personal costs… healthy eating basis will make a positive impact on my health”. But once you enlist to all these courses, you later find out you do not only lack time for them, but will as well. Why does it happen that way? The material seemed to be dull, or you expected other things from the course?
The main reason is the lack of interest. Many topics can call it out at the beginning: popular, important, necessary ones. But the will to pass through the course to the very end can appear only where the topic of MOOC is really interesting and even urgent for you. You can study without it all, but being consciously busy with a task you do not like when there is a possibility to avoid it is very difficult. And why should you do that, if your goal is not to get a diploma but to find out required knowledge?
There are many articles about self-motivation in the web. So, we will underline the importance of goal setup only. A person with no goal is like a ship without a steering wheel, they say. In the case of online studying, you need to have a clear vision about why you learn things and what you are going to get as a result.
Doing that is quite easy. It is enough to answer a few questions. What do I pass this course for and where can I use gained knowledge? It does not matter if you study HTML or CSS in order to create your own website, or you have ordered a series of literature lectures about French poetry of XIX-XX centuries because you write poems by yourself. The main thing here is your consciousness about your goals, which will be your best motivators to go in for lectures.
One Task at a Time
Old, good and working principle. You should not start several subjects at once and demand yourself to be 100% involved into each of them. Course authors show the amount of time you should spend for a course weekly: average number is 3-5 hours. Now suppose that you are interested in 3 subjects and started them all simultaneously. Doing like that in order to keep up to a schedule (only lectures and recommended additional materials) you need to spend 15 hours a week for online studying. Obviously, that is quite a big amount of time for those who study or work
So, choose 1-2 courses to start and work with them. You won’t lose much: mostly, MOOC's are uploaded after they end, and some of them do not even have any time limits for studying and you can join whenever it is comfortable for you.
Tips on Effective Online Learning
Now it is time for practical recommendations:
Setup a Schedule
You can study at MOOC at any time which is comfortable for you, but you are going to need a schedule. It will be something like your to-do list for a week. You won’t feel any difficulties to create it: the structure of every course with weekly blocks separated from each other is already available. Time duration for lectures is shown as well. All you need to do is to devote time for learning and to keep up to a plan you just set up.
You won’t go anywhere without a discipline. Of course, you can learn things from time to time and pass a monthly volume of lectures during two weekend days without paying any attention to exams. But think: how effective is this studying going to be? You better choose time suitable for you, devote three days per week, insert them into your schedule and start studying. This is how you’ll gain a positive habit, and any kind of discomfort is about to disappear a month later.
Study Extra Hours
Even if you choose a topic you understand quite well, you should be ready for unclear moments to appear (including ones happening due to language issues). But there is another advantage: MOOC is your chance to improve your English. In order to fill your knowledge gaps on the go, pause the lecture and use network search engines. Everything is nearby, and nobody forbids you to use it.
Communicate with Like-Minded People
It is perfect if you have friends who pass same course you do. But if there are no such friends, things are not that bad: each subject has topical forums created for it. There you can communicate with your teacher, ask him or her questions that interest you, and meet students from all over the world. And in fact, forum is a thing that makes you come back to the website. And later, you finally want to listen to lectures.
Most part of courses do not only have subtitles inserted, but allow downloading their written materials, too. You can translate them with online translation services and to understand what they speak about in a video, if you fail to understand lecturer’s voice. So, if you want to study, but you are not sure in your speaking and listening English, register for a course with no doubts. But you are to be ready to devote more time for it, too.
Write Notes and Use Other Traditional Studying Tricks
Making notes helps you remember the information better and to playback it easier if you need to do that. That is the goal of any study. You can use traditional ways to organize your learning process:
- Organize your workspace so you could feel comfortable and have all necessary things nearby;
- Try not to distract, no matter what the reason is;
- Make breaks and get away from a computer during them.