Dec 2, 2011

Online Learning

E-learning comprises all forms of electronically supported learning and teaching. The information and communication systems, whether networked learning or not, serve as specific media to implement the learning process. The term will still most likely be utilized to reference out-of-classroom and in-classroom educational experiences via technology, even as advances continue in regard to devices and curriculum.
E-learning is essentially the computer and network-enabled transfer of skills and knowledge. E-learning applications and processes include Web-based learning, computer-based learning, virtual education opportunities and digital collaboration. Content is delivered via the Internet, intranet/extranet, audio or video tape, satellite TV, and CD-ROM. It can be self-paced or instructor-led and includes media in the form of text, image, animation, streaming video and audio.
Abbreviations like CBT (Computer-Based Training), IBT (Internet-Based Training) or WBT (Web-Based Training) have been used as synonyms to e-learning. Today one can still find these terms being used, along with variations of e-learning such as elearning, Elearning, and eLearning. The terms will be utilized throughout this article to indicate their validity under the broader terminology of E-learning.

Here are six practical tips to help you succeed:
1. Understand the online learning difference

Distance education suits self-starters and people who really want to learn.

If you're excited about study and the career improvements that follow, successful online study is within your grasp. But remember, online learning isn't easier than classroom learning. It's designed to fit in with your life, but that means motivation and discipline has to come from you!
2. Set realistic study goals

One of the most important study skills is to recognise your capacity and your limitations. If you work full time and have a family or an active social life, don't trick yourself into thinking you can manage 25 hours of study a week.

When you start your course, you might consider signing up for just one unit, and then see whether the time commitment suits your life. Increase your workload as you grow in confidence. Distance education allows you to work at a pace that suits you best, but it can be tempting to put off study in favour of social or family time. So it's important to set real deadlines...and stick to them.

3. Get into a study routine

Plan your week. Set time aside for the things you normally do:

other commitments (eg yoga, sport, walking the dog)

You'll then be able to see when you have time to study. Are you a morning person? Or a night owl? Make sure you schedule study at times that work for you. Allow time for healthy snacks and breaks; both help keep your concentration up.

4. Understand how online study works

Understanding the online study environment can take a lot of the stress out of distance education. Take a bit of time up-front to get your head around things like:

changing enrolment details
submitting essays
accessing discussion groups
contacting instructors
accessing library facilities

Also, make sure you understand how assessment actually works. Are exams held at particular times? Are there any 'contact hours' at all? Are there times when participants need to be online at the same time? Some courses may require group work - find out how that works.

5. Accept help from others

Almost every challenge we face is easier if we tell others about it. Let your boss, colleagues, friends and family know what you're doing - they'll understand your need to be more flexible, and might even be able to assist with your work.

Most online course providers offer support services to help you while you study. Lecturers and tutors can provide guidance with course work, while support staff can provide help with study skills, professional contacts and administrative issues. And there are often online chat rooms and even Facebook groups where students can support each other.
6. Reward yourself for online study success

Online study is challenging. It requires self-motivation and self-belief. Success also relies on your ability to know when you've done a good job. Don't forget to reward yourself when you achieve something.

Whether it's a chocolate at the end of each 4-hour study period or a weekend away at the end of each year completed, giving yourself rewards provides motivation, and also gives you time to reflect on your achievements. Be proud. Online learning is worth it. You can do it. 


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