Globalization has made an enormous difference to the way we live and work. 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 emphasize the importance of education in this globalized, competitive, technology-driven, knowledge-based economy.
Education on-campus at university or college is a fixed place, fixed time activity that is not possible for many people because of jobs or other commitments. Online learning, on the other hand, is an anywhere, anytime, any place activity that provides a flexible learning solution for such people. However, all too often learners are disappointed with their first experience of online learning because they didn’t realize the problems they would face. Here are six things that the learner should watch out for.
Online education is a flexible form of education, but it doesn’t mean that you can keep “putting off” your learning day after day. All too often, that is what often happens – and this results in failure to learn. So be organized – manage your time. Set aside a regular time in your diary for study of the material and completion of assignments.
To complete a degree online means often working alone when your friends are out enjoying themselves, and it means maintaining this level of commitment for a long period of time. To achieve this, you must have a high degree of motivation. We did some research on success factors for our mature-age online learners. The number one factor wasn’t previous exam results – it was motivation. Even with very few previous academic qualifications, we found that students would succeed providing they were motivated. So, do make sure that you are highly motivated.
You shouldn’t only acquire knowledge – you should also acquire the skills to acquire knowledge. In particular, learning online requires that you develop these skills. This means having well-developed critical reading and thinking skills as well as the technical skills of how find books or web sites on a particular subject.
For many of us, our school experience has taught us to be “passive learners” – we were told the knowledge, we learned it by rote and then we repeated it in an exam. Passive learning seemed to be a useful strategy for success. Unfortunately, that is not a useful strategy for success in today’s 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.
Lectures in high school classrooms and in undergraduate classes can all so easily encourage the “passive learning” already referred to. But real learning takes place when you are interacting with the materials and with others. So try to find a learning group, either in your area or online, and exchange ideas regularly. Also, make sure that you respond to all the e-Tutor’s requests for participation in the discussion forums. There may even be a mark allocated for such participation.
Don’t be tempted to buy a qualification from a “diploma mill” – a business that simply prints diplomas and degrees. Such qualifications are worthless in the eyes of employers and genuine educational institutions, so will just be a waste of your money. Always take an accredited program from an accredited institution.