So you've decided to beef up your résumé and are after a course to learn that new skill. Think online is for you? Take note of these five considerations before your start your course.
The benefits of online courses, also known as e-learning, are clear: no commute to the classroom, learning at your own pace and 24/7 accessibility to the course materials so early birds can wake up to a lesson and night owls can cue a session at 11pm. If you're working or have other duties during the day, an online course fits perfectly around your lifestyle.
But before you go rushing in to enrol in an online course, there are a few things you need to consider beforehand.
1. How will your career benefit from an online course?
Are you after a qualification, a certification or just want to acquire a new skill? If you're angling for a new job or promotion, note what qualifications, certifications or skills are required for your ideal role by checking job descriptions.
Make sure the course meets your needs in terms the career and skill outcomes you've identified as being necessary for progress.
2. How do you learn?
Take time to identify your style of learning. Do you respond best to regular quizzes? Interactivity? Video? Q&A sessions? Ask the provider about the delivery structure and the level of interactivity and support you will have throughout the course. There are plenty of online courses out there; make sure you find the right one for you.
Match your learning style to the delivery structure and level of support offered by the provider.
3. What technology do you need?
Ask about delivery mode, including the system requirements you will need to access the course. If the content is video heavy, for example, perhaps you will need enough bandwidth to support it. Will you be learning on a PC, a Mac, or a tablet? Make sure your equipment is compatible and ask if there is a demo available so you can try before you buy.
Ensure you can access the course content with the technology you have at hand.
4. How can you maximise your training?
Take advantage of e-learning's flexibility: identify your peak learning time and block out a period in your schedule to devote to lessons. Get into a routine and remember to revise as you go to boost retention. Remember that e-learning requires a bit more discipline than face-to-face lessons (particularly the ability to block out all the other tempting distractions of the internet) so be aware that you get what you put into the course.
Employ good study habits to get the most from your online course.
5. What other support will you need?
The online course material, especially for a vocational qualification, rarely stands alone. You may be expected to undertake some form of work experience—for example clinical hours for qualifications like the Advanced Diploma of Naturopathy or work-based training as required by the Diploma of Children's Services—or as the course progresses, show that you can apply the principles you have learnt to the work that you will undertake, such as with the Certificate IV in Training & Assessment or the Certificate IV in Fitness.
Prepare to support your e-learning with other elements so you can get a more holistic experience from your course.
Having a good grasp of what an online course entails will prepare you for this increasingly popular delivery mode so you can get the most from the learning experience.
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