As remote living becomes the new norm, the world is navigating what that means for many aspects of our daily lives, including work, social interactions and education. But the latter is no novelty to many.
The Rise of Remote Learning
Online learning has seen a significant surge in recent years, particularly corporate training and professional development, with a global revenue for e-learning expected to reach $325 billion by 2025. At Mpirical, we ourselves have seen the digital shift. In the last 4 years since introducing our OnlineAnytime package, we have seen this grow in popularity, surpassing our once dominant face to face classroom sessions of our LiveOnsite courses, and the trend continues to accelerate. Even before enforced global isolations, the past 12 months has seen a rapid move toward the consumption of our online materials, with views of our videos on Vimeo alone up 5 fold in the last year.
Since Mpirical launched, we have respected the intricacies, pros and cons of distance learning, and worked these into our unique learning management system for delivering a large proportion of our telecoms training. So as online training veterans, we wanted to share our advice on how to get the most out of online learning, and how you can be successful in your remote studies, during this period of lockdown, and beyond.
Is online learning for everyone?
Despite the rise in popularity, online learning may not be best suited to everyone. There are a number of factors that come into play when it comes to being a successful remote learner:
Depending on which model you look at, there are an array of styles that characterise your individual learning. Taking a popular model VARK as an example, this breaks down learning styles into Visual, Auditory, Reading/Writing and Kinesthetic.
On the outset, it may seem that online learning is well suited to both visual and auditory learners in particular – given the combination of graphics and audio explanation that videos and other online materials can offer. There is the possibility in contrast that kinesthetic learners – who typically learn by being more hands on and interactive – may not reap the same benefits in an e-learning environment.
However, depending on the Learning Management System you are using and the course materials available to you, any good training provider would ensure these learners are catered for as well through interactive tools that allow for applied learning. Our network visualization tool NetX for example, allows learners to interact and get under the skin of their network.
So assuming you are using a quality training provider, an online platform shouldn’t hinder your learning, no matter what style of learner you are. It may however be the case that kinesthetic learners for example become more creative in the ways they learn, and engage with those various tools provided.
Which brings us on to our next factor: mindset…
With any form of remote living, whether that be remote working or online learning, there is an element of self-motivation that comes into play. When the initiative to learn comes from the individual, and not a calendar invitation from your boss or a herd of your peers heading into an office training room, there needs to be motivation from the learner to dedicate time and head space to their studies.
And you’ll know if that’s for you or not. Online learning takes discipline, and a desire to develop. If you intrinsically have this motivation, then great! If you’re someone who knows you may need that extra push to get into the learning ‘zone’, all is not lost yet when it comes to e-learning. There are some things you can do to help boost your motivation. Aside from geeing yourself up with motivational TED talks about, well, motivation, a simple act like weaving training into your daily schedule, even just for a set hour each day, could help keep you on track. Send yourself that calendar invitation if it helps.
As many of us are finding in our new imposed remote world, despite emerging technologies, there can be drawbacks to not having that face to face interaction. And online learning is no different. Not only can there be a distance between the course leader and the students, but between the student group itself.
Online learning can be isolating.
This can suit some people. Some people prefer the one-to-one feel of online training programmes, with the anonymity it provides and the flexibility for working at your own pace. But for others, the inability to confer with your peer group, or stop for a brief moment of reflection and clarity with either the instructor or fellow learners, can be a dampener to the learning experience.
If you fall into this latter group of students who learn better in a herd, then online learning is probably not your first choice. But if this is your only option right now, get creative. Engage with your cohort through other means. Enlist a learning ‘buddy’ and work through the content together. Taking that initiative again to seek out ways that will aid your learning.
Remember too that online learning doesn’t have to mean solo study. Live virtual classrooms may suit you better than on demand courses…
So is online learning for everyone? As we’ve highlighted above, there can be a number of challenges to online learning, but many of which can be overcome by the tenacity of the learner. And in all of the cases mentioned above, this relies on an element of self-awareness.
As a learner, spend some time thinking about your leaning style, how do you best soak in information? Take a quick online quiz if you’re not sure. Do you lack motivation to drive your own development? If you’ve read this far the answer is probably no, but be mindful of things you can do to keep the momentum going. Do you know you need to be part of a learning community, or are you content working alone?
Once we are self-aware about our preferred learning practices, we can take the necessary steps to ensuring we are getting the best out of our online learning experience.
So how do we succeed at online learning?
Through our own experience at Mpirical, and those of our past and present cohorts, we’ve outlined some tips to help you get the most out of your remote courses:
Establish a learning-conducive environment
As you’ll see from the many articles regarding remote working conditions at the moment, the same is true of learning. Ensure you have a dedicated space. Be comfortable. Make yourself free from distractions. Give yourself the dedicated time you need. Be realistic about the amount of time you’re going to spend on your studies.
Choose the right device for you
Any good learning platform will be responsive, allowing you to learn in the way that best suits you, whether that’s at your desktop, on a tablet or scrolling through your mobile phone. Our own cohorts tend to opt for desktop studying, with 77% of our students accessing our courses in this way. But that’s not to say that a mobile device isn’t as effective if that’s your preferred tool.
Engage with your learning community
In whatever way you can. As mentioned above, consider a learning buddy. Get a group chat going with some of your colleagues. Schedule your learning around the same time if possible, so you can all give each other that motivational boost. Share your learning milestones, and celebrate those of your peers.
Be active in your learning
“Learning is more effective when it is an active rather than a passive process.” Kurt Lewin. Take it from this guy. To be successful in any form of studies, involve yourself. Be active in your learning. Engage with the materials provided. Be curious about your further development.
Enjoy the experience
You’re dedicating time to your studies. Try to enjoy it. Follow the tips above, engage in the materials, be active in any gamification that your learning platform provides, be social with your learning and you will not only emerge better skilled, but having enjoyed the process as well.
Mpirical run a range of telecoms courses through Live Onsite (temporarily suspended with new dates to come), LiveOnline or an on demand OnlineAnytime package. We provide an enviable learning management system, the LearningZone specifically designed to aid learning. Discover our LearningZone or browse our range of courses.