Online learning is a truly flexible way to get the qualifications you need. Our guide will help get the best out of learning online at home.
If you’ve only ever been taught in a classroom, the thought of online learning might be a bit daunting. We’re here to dispel your doubts and give you some practical advice to help you get the best out of studying at home.
Classroom learning can be great, but it can also be restrictive. If you’re working alongside your studies, you might find it difficult to fit work, attending classes, doing coursework and, you know, having a life into your week.
This is where online learning can revolutionise your studies.
Choose the right course for you
It’s a simple fact that you’ll be so much more likely to succeed if you choose the right course.
If you enrol on a course that doesn’t suit your schedule or is the wrong subject or level, then it will be easier to give up on than something you’re passionate about and invested in.
If you’re not sure of the course subject you want to study, you should have a think about your interests and what you want to get out of the course. This will help you narrow down your choices.
Perhaps you’ve always wanted to move into a particular profession? In that case, you should look into an accredited professional qualification for that industry, as these are often very desirable to employers.
Once you know the subject you want to study, the next step is to decide which style of online course would suit you best. There are loads of options out there with different providers offering a different range of services, so it’s worth doing a bit of research.
You should also make sure the price includes adequate support from a tutor or learning professional. Having someone who can give you constructive feedback and is on hand to answer your questions can mean the difference between sticking it out and passing or getting disheartened and giving up.
Another thing to consider is the structure of the course. Some providers will insist that you enrol at certain times of the year or that you log a set amount of study hours per week, whereas others let you set your own schedule and work at a pace that suits you.
You should have a think about what your other commitments are and how much flexibility you would like in your studies and find a course that works for your needs.
Plan out your studies
When you’re studying at home with online learning, there’s usually no one dictating to you when and how often you should study. This gives you an immense amount of freedom, but it is still good practice to have a rough timetable or plan in place to keep yourself on track.
Why not start with a long-term goal of when you’d like to have the course finished by? This will help you work out how much you’ll need to complete each month to achieve this goal.
You can then plan your weekly studies around your work and other commitments. It’s best to be realistic about what you can achieve each week - you don’t want to set targets you can’t meet, as this will only make you feel like you’re already falling behind.
Set aside a space to study at home
It’s far easier to find ways to procrastinate at home than in a classroom. You sit down to do some serious studying and suddenly you’re overcome with an overwhelming need to scrub your skirting boards! You tell yourself you’ll be able to really focus once you do this pesky task, but by then it’s dinner time… and so it goes on.
If you’re prone to distraction, it’s a good idea to set aside a specific area for your studies that’s out of the way of anything that is likely to split your focus. This could be a home office or quiet corner of another room if you don’t have that kind of space at home.
If you share your home with other people, be sure to make them aware of when you need peace and quiet to get on with your work (especially if they’re the small and noisy variety of human). There’s nothing worse than hitting your stride only to be needlessly interrupted.
Take regular breaks
Planning an all-day study session? Don’t restrict yourself to sitting in your study space all day and remember to give yourself regular breaks.
Why not try mixing up how frequently you take your breaks to discover how you work best?
Research has found that taking frequent breaks can actually improve your brain’s ability to focus on your tasks.
We would suggest stepping away from your study zone to eat. Take some time away to relax and enjoy your lunch rather than hastily scoffing whilst concentrating on something else.
Try studying in a new location
Studying online means you can access your course materials anywhere so you shouldn’t feel restricted to staying at home. A change of scenery can do you good and give you a boost in motivation.
These days almost every cafe, pub, museum or any other building open to public use has Wi-Fi, so there is so much choice. You just need to keep in mind how you work best. If you’re not fazed by background noise, then you might want to try a coffee shop or cafe, but if you like peace and quiet, your local library might have quiet zones for you to work in.
The goal is to keep yourself motivated by changing up your surroundings, so as long as you can concentrate in that place, the possibilities are endless!
Ask for help when you need it
A worry for some people studying from home is that they’ll feel isolated if they’re struggling with the course.
While it's handy to have classroom time to be able to raise your concerns and have them answered immediately, you shouldn’t worry that you’ll be left to struggle alone with studying online.
Many courses come with support from a personal tutor who you can get in touch with whenever you need help.
Remember, they may be very knowledgeable but it’s highly unlikely that they’re also psychic, so you'll need to let them know when you need help!
You might also have access to a student forum where you can chat to other people studying the course. Getting involved in discussions with other students can give you a real boost as you can swap notes with other students and give and receive advice on tricky topics.
The key thing to remember is that there are many forms of help available - you just need to ask for it.
Remember to celebrate your achievements, however small you think they are.
This is especially important if you’re working on something that you find especially challenging. Why not try giving yourself a small reward for each study session?
You could visit your favourite place or make yourself your favourite meal; it really doesn’t matter what you chose to do so long as it’s something you enjoy.
Giving yourself these small treats will give you motivation to complete your work as you’ll have something nice to look forward to. Just remember to maintain a little bit of self-discipline and resist indulging in the treat before you complete the work.
Online learning is a really flexible way to get the qualifications you need, whatever stage you’re at in life. It gives you the freedom to work in a way that suits you, so don’t let any doubts or fears stand in the way of your dream career!
Interested in studying online? Have a look at our course selection.