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Getting the best from online learning

This guidance has been written to help you to use online learning as effectively as possible.

Points to consider before you start

Treat online learning as you would any other kind of learning and development by following these guidelines;

  • Before embarking on learning and development activities be sure you are clear on what you are trying to achieve. If you are not sure what your learning and development goals are, try using the ‘Learning Needs Analysis’ template here: Learning Needs Analysis
  • Discuss your learning and development needs with your manager and agree on how you will undertake the online learning and any support you will need. You may wish to use the  ‘Personal Development Plan’ template here: Personal Development Plan
  • Keep a record of your online learning and the impact it is having. You can use the ‘Continuous Professional Development’ template here: Continuous Professional Development
  • Consider whether the learning and development activity will challenge and motivate you.
  • Think about how you will make the learning stick. Will you have an opportunity to practice and apply your learning?
  • Give yourself time to reflect on what you have learned and how you can apply it.
  • Tell us what you think about your learning experience by completing the evaluation questions.

Making time for online learning

  • Treat online learning as seriously as you would a physical event by planning time in your diary and sticking to it if you can.
  • Set aside enough time so you are not feeling rushed and are able to fully engage with the learning.
  • To avoid procrastination, the ‘Pomodoro Technique’ suggests breaking down tasks into 25, 30 or 40 minute chunks and then take a 5 minute break. After a couple of hours take a longer break and get away from the screen.
  • Have a notebook and pen by your side to write down anything that might distract from your learning, you can then forget about it until you have finished.

Preparing your learning space

Think about where you will be accessing the online learning;

  • Try to find a dedicated learning space without distractions.
  • Close the door to your learning space if you can.
  • Make sure that this space is comfortable, well lit and well ventilated.
  • Check that the chair you are using is comfortable and watch for any pain in your shoulders, arms or back.
  • Take regular breaks and move away from your PC, laptop, tablet or phone.

Preparing your technology

  • It can be easy to get distracted when working online, try to minimise these distractions by closing down your email and any other documents and windows, or disable notifications for a short period.
  • Before you begin your online learning check that you have everything you need to hand. Do you need to download anything before you start? Can you minimise your reliance on WiFi by downloading materials? Can you work offline? Do you need a password to open the programme? Do you know who to contact if things go wrong?

Keeping connected

  • Can you connect with your colleagues who are also learning online? Could you set up a study group or work with a learning buddy?
  • Have you discussed your progress with your manager on a regular basis?

How to learn online

You may be interested in joining the following 2 week programme offered by future learn. Its free and has been designed by the Open University.

Learning Outcomes

• Explore and understand key aspects of on-line learning
• Assess how studying online can match personal interests and preferences and help to develop skills and prepare you for future online study
• Identify and recognise the main differences between online and campus based University learning

Future Learn Course