Tips for Better Online Learning
One of the key ideas behind the ASQ CRE certification is the need to learn enough to pass the exam. Then you are expected to continue to learn to maintain your certification. It is the key idea of ongoing professional development that central to the CRE program, and many other certification programs.
Over this past year of COVID-induced restrictions, the ability to attend local chapter meetings or conferences has changed. While many events are now done online, it’s another Zoom meeting after a day full of such online meetings.
A recent article by Anant Agarwal, the founder and CEO of edX titled, “What I’ve Learned About Learning – 5 Hacks for Success” caught my attention. Anant provides a few tips to improve your online learning – and I would say any learning. A little research on how to best learn online also found “Tips for Successful Online Learning” that helped inform this short summary.
Find others interested in the topic and take the course together. Besides adding a touch of peer pressure, it enables you both to reflect on the key points of each lesson.
The ability to take the time to reflect and connect the lesson to your prior experience and current situation help cement the knowledge in long-term memory. Plus, you can check your understanding, ask questions, and get another point of view to further help you master the information.
Watching a video or reading the book is a start, just a start. To get the most from the course, you need to do the work of practicing. Do the homework, rework the examples, give the process a try. Practice, practice, practice.
Even better is to practice and get feedback from your study partners, instructors, or friends. Make improvements and try again.
One advantage of online, self-paced courses is you can set your own pace through the course. For a fixed schedule course, plan to set aside ample time to attend (not just plan in the background) lessons, and do the homework, and practice.
Besides the formal lesson work, also plan on time to meet with your study group for discussions. Learning does take time, plan for that. The certificate of completion is not worth anything if you didn’t learn the material.
Studies show that taking notes in pencil or pen, not the keyboard, makes a difference in retaining the information presented in course lectures. Something about how the brain has to listen/view, interpret, and translate to written form, handwritten form, even if you never look at your notes again, is far superior to taking notes via keyboard.
Many courses, online or in-person, encourage the opportunity to comment, ask questions, to participate. Do so! Make a point to ask at least one question or make at least one observation per lesson.
This is again aimed at retention and cementing lessons into long-term memory. Plus, it supports you as you focus on the course and not the text message that just arrived. (turn off your phone and shut down email is always a good step to encourage participation.)
Learning to learn is a skill. Pay attention to what works or doesn’t work as you learn. Adjust and focus on practicing learning well.
Stay healthy. This should be obvious. Eat well, get sufficient rest, exercise, and spend time with family and friends and laugh on occasion.
Manage the technology. Setup your equipment and connections to avoid slow speeds, too small screens, poor audio, etc.
Save often. If doing homework or practice on a computer – save, save, and save often.
Review and reinforce. This one is worth repeating. Attending a lesson and taking notes is a start. Deliberate review, discussion, practice, and more practices is necessary to actually master the course material.
You have taken courses, what are your tips to learn well?
Also published on Medium.