… try it! Even if you are not absolutely certain that online learning is for you, try it out. If you are still hesitant, don't sign up for a full-semester accredited course just yet. Perhaps look for some self-directed training, join an informal webinar, download a podcast or register for a half-day workshop to see if you like it. You might be pleasantly surprised.
… get familiar with the technology. Click on links, try things out, experiment a little. Get to know your “classroom”. Even though it isn't a physical space, you can still find out where things are and how they work. If there are any tutorials included, use them. If there are instructional videos, watch them.
… be open to trying new things. You may have to experiment a little, but that is part of the fun. And as they say, practice makes perfect.
… ask questions. Asking is key to learning. Ask the facilitator, the host organization, fellow participants, your own family or co-workers. Remember, you are not alone!
… share any tips or tricks that work for you. You are probably not the only one in your course who is new to online learning. If you notice that there is an effective way to use the training software, for example, share it with your fellow participants and with the course facilitator. They will probably appreciate the tip. For ideas on how to share promising practices with a broader audience, please visit the Getting Online Trends module and click under “Sharing Promising Practices”.
… manage your time. Set aside specific blocks of time to work on your course, to participate in your webinar or watch a podcast. Ask your family or co-workers to respect those times when you are “in class”.
… remember that you are actually learning a number of things. Not only are you learning about a topic, you are probably also learning about technology and new ways to use your computer, the Internet, your iPod, your cell phone and more.
… think about your workspace. Do you have a comfortable chair? Do you have a quiet space where you can work? Do you have a comfortable headset or earphone? Do you have access to a printer (if you will need one)? Do you have a place where you can concentrate and learn? For more information about workstation ergonomics, visit the Centre for Disease Control or review this FAQ from Net Science.
… take breaks. If you find yourself sitting at the computer or listening to a training podcast on your iPod for an extended period of time, take a few minutes to get a drink or a snack and remember to stretch.
… take responsibility for your own learning. While you can (and should) ask questions and ask for help, ultimately it is up to you to succeed. You are responsible for your own time management and for ensuring that you have the appropriate hardware and software and can use it effectively.
… add your voice. Online learning is designed to be accessible across distances and around the world. Your voice and opinion matters.
…remember you are just learning. Take the pressure off, enjoy the experience, if there are problems, remember this is a new experience and it will be easier next time.
… have fun!