Online learning has changed the basic concepts and methodologies of traditional education. It has proved its credibility by many success stories. But, there are still some debates going on about the effectiveness of online learning.
My personal views can be expressed by few statements:
- No professional person will be able to skip online learning in the next 5 years – lifelong learning is a reality, and it is practically impossible to maintain the required level of skills and knowledge in the rapidly changing environment by attending face-to-face courses;
- Online courses will be implementing adoptable learning approaches to meet individual preferences and expectations of learners;
- Currently, Traditional and Online education are experiencing pedagogical stagnation because the old course design, development, and delivery methods are not working anymore, but in a couple of years there will be a huge development taking place with wide implementation of technology-supported new pedagogical solutions.
As for learners, there are several important aspects which define the success of online learning: dedication, time management skills, research and computer skills, and the most important -ability to maintain effective communication with all the participants: course administrators, instructors, classmates in the virtual environment. Communication is critically important on all stages of online learning – starting from the selection of online course or program till the last lesson of the course.
Communicate when selecting the online course
This is an important advantage of online learning which is listed in many resources. But it is also a challenge since you must know exactly what are your needs and expectations in terms of course content, level of expertise and practical experience.
If you are aiming to join the online course, take your time and do proper research and communicate with course providers and course participants if needed:
- Check the offered courses thoroughly;
- Read and analyze reviews and feedback;
- Check course provider’s profile and credibility;
- Get in touch with the providers and ask questions you want to clear before joining the course:
- Request the demos which are offered by majority of companies to familiarize yourself with the style of the course delivery;
- Find out how much time daily or weekly you must dedicate to your studies;
- Ask about planned assessments and projects;
- Request some information about certificates issued on completion of the course.
This initial information is very important for you; more details you gather better will be your understanding and perception of the course. It also will help to get prepared for the course.
Communicate before scheduling your online study sessions
Since it is not required to attend face-to-face classes and training sessions, your learning environment can be created according to your personal preferences. The only compulsory components are your computer with required software and the Internet access.
You might have a busy working schedule, family or social commitments and it will be a real challenge to fit your study time into existing appointments and engagements.
I’d advise you to have a discussion with your family members and explain how important your studies are for the career development and what benefits you and the entire family might get out of it. It is important for them to know that online studies will boost your career and you can become a better candidate for a job promotion, and your resume will look more impressive when you apply for new positions.
Correct communication will help you to achieve support and understanding in the family, and they will not disturb you during study time. You also need to communicate with your friends regarding your study schedule and the necessity to limit or exclude some social activities during the course.
Maintain active communication with your classmates
There is an assumption that during online studies you are left alone with all your problems and issues. This can turn away many potential students unless they realize that they are members of a virtual class, and the classmates are spread all over the world.
What are the suggested actions?
First of all, you have to meet your classmates. Connect with other classmates and introduce yourself:
- Be polite and friendly;
- resent yourself by providing short and relevant information.
- Conduct ice-breaking activities to make the situation between virtual classmates easy.
Secondary, find people who are related to you: registered for the same course, assigned to the same project team or working on the same assignment. Online classmates can provide a lot of help and support. And your task is to give support them: reply to the messages and discuss common issues. Virtual classmates can establish new ways of thinking and you can get to know each other better through learning activities involving teamwork and cooperation. It might happen that you find future business opportunities during an active communication with your classmates.
There are multiple tools available to maintain regular communications: emails, chat rooms, discussion forums. You have a chance to meet very interesting people.
Another option to keep in touch with classmates in a less formal environment is to share social media contacts, it will allow you to know your team better in terms of culture, hobbies, and interests.
Stay engaged, show your interest, don’t miss discussions, be proactive in the project work – all this will help you in your studies and makes the time spent with virtual classmates extremely helpful and enjoyable.
Communication with your instructor
Communication with your online instructor differs from the traditional face-to-face communication. In online courses, the communication is more individual, and each instructor comment is related directly to you:
- Answer to your questions;
- Feedback on your assignment;
- Recommendations on further activities;
- Suggestions on the performance improvement.
- Chat rooms;
- Social media.
In some courses you might meet your instructor in live sessions:
- Online lecture;
- Introduction to the course.
Don’t miss an opportunity to talk to your online instructor; you might get helpful input or constructive feedback. This can help you to succeed in the online course
Career development through online learning
For many people, lifelong learning is already a part of their career plans. With online courses, there is no necessity to stay away from work to take the courses needed. The future of online learning looks bright: with new technologies emerging, new ways to learn, engage, and communicate online will be made available for millions