Six things learners need to know to be successful when learning online

By: Sophia Peters

Globalization has made an enormous difference to the way we live and work, and I dont just mean the impact of petrol prices on our driving habits. Communicating with someone on the other side of the world is just as easy as communicating with someone next door. People change jobs more often than before, and jobs change just as frequently. And all these changes underscore the importance of education in this globalized, competitive, technology-driven, knowledge-based economy.
Of course, this is why so many people study on-campus at university or college. But many others already have jobs or other commitments and so cannot attend on-campus classes. If you are one of these people, online learning provides a flexible solution. But to succeed you need to take account of the following six guidelines.
Just because it is a flexible form of education, it doesnt mean that you can keep putting it off. Procrastination, and then trying to fit it all in at the end, has caused so many failures. Dont leave it until the last minute to upload your assignment or you can guarantee that your Internet service will go down just at that moment. So manage your time so that you complete assignments well before the due dates.
Living and working in todays ever-changing world demands life-long learning. And so if you wish to continue to be part of it, you must have a desire to learn and be motivated to learn for the rest of your life. So this means wanting to learn even when there is no extrinsic motivation (e.g., a salary increase).
Unfortunately, many of us were not taught how to learn. Instead we were only taught to remember things and to apply rules. Somewhere along the way we were expected to acquire the skills to acquire knowledge. In todays world it is essential that we know how to learn. In particular, learning online requires that you develop these skills. This not only means having the technical skills of how find books or web sites on a topic, it also means having well-developed critical reading and thinking skills.
For many people, school taught them to be passive learners and such learning seemed to be a useful strategy for success. But it is not a useful strategy for success in todays world, or, indeed, in online learning. If you are learning online, the courseware often includes questions, exercises and further reading so that your learning can be active rather than passive. You must make sure that you complete all the exercises and that you thoroughly interact with the material so as to gain the most out of it. Do not be a passive learner.
One of the good things about learning on-campus is that you are surrounded by other people learning the same stuff and so lots of learning actually happens in informal discussions with those people. So, when learning online, try to find a learning group, either in your area or online. You can then take part in social learning " and you will find that you only truly know something when you try to explain it to someone else.
Never buy a qualification from a diploma mill - it can cost you! Before you enrol in a program, make sure is it accredited by a real accrediting body. Many diploma mills will claim to be accredited by a fake body, so check with licensing boards and professional associations under which they claim to offer programs.

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Sophia Peters writes for the DLDC website where you can find out more about distance programs and other resources.

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