Although online learning has been readily available for a number of years, it is continuing to grow and evolve with new courses being offered and more and more organizations getting involved. Online learning opportunities are being offered by traditional academic institutions such as high schools, colleges and universities, but they are also being offered by private training institutions, not-for-profit organizations, government departments and private business. Whether you are looking for a multi-year accredited program, a single course, an employment-related certification, an afternoon workshop or something for personal interest, you can probably find what you need online.
Regardless of the education you already have or how many traditional face-to-face training seminars you might have attended, you will discover that online learning can be different from what you are probably used to. In this module, we will give you some ideas and suggestions that can help you get the most out of online learning.
As we discussed in the Technology module, there are many different ways that online learning is delivered. It can happen in real time, or you can log in whenever and wherever is convenient for you. You could be speaking with a facilitator and other participants, you could be posting on to a discussion forum, you could be accessing a podcast, or you could be working your way through a self-study module like this one. Some of the online learning tips and strategies that we will be sharing will depend on the type of software being used or the general approach to online learning, but whatever course, workshop or training you want to take, this training module will give you some useful ideas and suggestions.
If you are getting ready to offer your first online course, revamping an existing one, or even just thinking about developing a training opportunity, it is important to know what it is like to be an online participant. If you have never taken an online course, we suggest you sign up for one (there are plenty of free choices if you prefer to “try before you buy”) to get a sense of what it is like to be an online learner. Look around for training that is similar to what you plan to offer, e.g. a semester-long accredited course, a live two-hour session, a self-study series of modules, a podcast, a virtual world or whatever else you have in mind.