e-Learning: How To Decide Which Online Course Is For You
-Keep Your Skills Current and Get Ahead of Your Competitors-
In these unprecedented times, many of us are feeling increasingly anxious. Your financial situation and employment situation have most likely been affected by this word-wide pandemic. If you have come into some free time while stuck at home, it might be time to consider utilizing electronic technologies to access education. If you have relatively stable access to the internet, you have thousands of options for learning wherever you are in the world.
It may seem overwhelming when starting to look for ways to upgrade your skills. There are millions of online courses, e-learning programs, e-certificates, and e-diplomas available (to name a few), especially now that most of us are self-isolating or quarantined for extended periods of time due to COVID-19. Do you want to showcase your skills with the most up-to-date lingo? Want to stand out when speaking to the interviewer in your next big interview, or update that resume with some new certifications and keywords? Do you want to be able to add “Proficient at Adobe Acrobat” or any other relevant program to your resume? Assuming you answered yes, the following are suggestions of what to look for when picking an online course.
What to look for when e-Learning
It can be difficult to stay motivated when you are at home. It’s important to understand what your motivations are before you begin. What is your why? A useful video to watch is Simon Sinek’s “How great leaders inspire action” TED talk. Why are you choosing to upgrade your skills? Once you know your motivation and goal, write it down and post it somewhere you can read it every day. Now it’s time to figure out the details.
What skill do you want to upgrade?
If you are looking to advance in your current career, or move into a new one, take a look at the social media site LinkedIn. This is a great resource when looking for a job or looking to increase your business network. If you do not already have a LinkedIn account, consider setting up a profile. Many employers, human resource professionals, and recruiters use this site to check out (and weed out) potential candidates.
Take a look at the profiles of people you consider successful in the career area you are interested in, then scroll down and look under “Skills & Endorsements”. These are the skills you should be developing and improving.
Step 2: How much time can you realistically dedicate?
Consider your living situation. If you are currently working from home and have a family with a spouse, three children, two dogs and a cat, your time at home does not include much “free-time” and you likely can only dedicate one or two hours a week to upgrading skills. Whatever your situation is, try to figure out how much you would like to dedicate towards an e-class, and then figure out how much time you actually can dedicate to the course. If making any structured commitment to an online course seems difficult, take a look at courses that allow you to easily reschedule; but keep in mind, these types of classes are usually not instructor lead. Depending on your learning style, and instructor lead class might be very useful as you can get actual feedback on projects and have discussions with a real person.
Step 3: Look for courses that suite your online learning style
Everyone has their own style of learning. Try to think how you collect and organize information in a way that is useful. Here are some learning styles and suggestions as to what to look for when choosing an online course.
Visual and Verbal – you prefer information presented visually, like via PowerPoint presentations or in writing.
Look for courses that are instructor lead and require assignments that include feedback from the teacher/professor.
Visual and Non-Verbal – you prefer information presented with the addition of video, picture, or in a design format. Maps, diagrams, charts, are all extremely useful for you.
Most online courses will include visual presentations. You can look further and try to find courses that include supplementary material such as physical course material books or pdfs.
Auditory and Verbal – you benefit most from a classroom setting listening to the lecture and participating in group discussions.
Try to find a course that includes web-conferencing and class discussions, or that include group projects.
Tactile and Kinesthetic – you enjoy learning physically such as in labs or in settings that allow you to be physically active like fieldwork.
Look for courses that show many demonstrations and simulations, and then follow-up discussions after you have completed the project at home. Courses that require presentation or groupwork are also complementary with this learning style.
Check the course description
Does this course provide some type of certificate or recognition of completion? Is there a syllabus? Is there any supplementary material provided? What are the instructor’s expectations of the students? Are there projects that take additional time? These are the important details that should be in a course description and should allow you to determine if this is the right type and style of course for you.
Last step: Start Learning!
Now that you’ve done your homework on which course to choose, and have carved out specific time (according to the course) in your life to accomplish it, you can start learning! Make sure to put reminders on your phone, and if you haven’t already, create a learning/working space in your home that will optimize your time and information retention. Don’t know how to create this space? There may be a blog post coming soon with some helpful tips!
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