The concept of online learning is becoming even more popular in the current world as technology continues to grow and further develop. The invention of new technical devices and connectivity platforms make it possible to deliver new curriculums through virtual learning programs, and schools are rapidly absorbing this new way of conducting studies. It can be overwhelming how fast things are transforming and changing in the technology world. This might also leave you confused about what you need to focus on when preparing for a successful online learning experience. This article guides you on how you need to prepare before starting your e-learning program.
Find Appropriate Web Conferencing Software
Online learning is made possible by a combination of software and hardware tools. Among the software requirements that you need to participate in any online-based learning program is a web conferencing software. Choosing the best web conferencing software to suit your needs can also be very confusing as this field is dominated by different software that is produced each day. The truth is, this software does not all come with the standard version, giving you all the features you need to attend your classes successfully. They come in different packages, allowing a different number of participants, some come with additional commenting features, and also, they do vary in terms of pricing. While some of this software provides free conferencing services, others have to be paid for and still might come with additional security features and so on.
The type of web conferencing software you use could be the most crucial decision you make. This is because the software is the main channel of communication for the whole curriculum and would decide the quality of your learning experience. Before you settle for a web conferencing software, it’s always advisable to analyze a few video conferencing software reviews where you can find, choose, and compare the eLearning industry’s Top web conferencing software. You can go through the variety of software provided here to pick the most favorable one for your unique circumstances.
Familiarize Yourself With The Program
Apart from making all the necessary technical preparations, it is also essential to prepare yourself for the program. In most cases, the schools would provide introductory seminars before the online learning course. You need to arrange to attend these seminars to equip yourself with the basic knowledge about the running of the program. This would introduce to you the teaching methods, the new technology to be used, learning tools, and teaching styles to be used during the session. You might also be able to catch the timetable that would help you to be better prepared for the online lessons as you have everything in place.
Another advantage of attending such introductory seminars is that it provides a unique opportunity to interact with the instructors and tutors that would be airing the program. This is the best time for you to clarify any questions you might have about your unique circumstance with the plan to help avoid glitches during learning. You will often have to learn how to perform online research, communicating through emails, and even operating some of the unique software that might be provided as part of the learning process. While this might sound like basic needs, it is essential to make sure that you are well versed with each of the required elements of the course as it might cost you more during the program.
Set Clear Goals For Your Program
Having clearly defined goals would make your study progressive and meaningful. Goals are also important as they would help you get through the day to day requirements of your learning program. Apart from the overall primary purposes of obtaining your desired certification at the end of the course, you should set minor goals that are related to the course that would help you to keep on schedule in all aspects of the course. This includes setting weekly goals on the handing in your assignments, study projects, note-taking, and also research. As you see, your goals are accomplished bit by bit, you get motivated to continue with the whole course and might even enjoy the learning process. As you set up your goals, you should include a reward system for yourself that you can use to congratulate yourself upon the successful accomplishment of specific targets. If all these goals are related to the improvement of your course, you end up having a fruitful learning experience.
Find A Stable Internet Connection
The quality of your online learning experience depends much on the quality of the internet connection that you choose. The internet connection affects the video quality that is delivered to your device and also the smoothness of video streaming. On the other hand, this also contributes to the total cost of the online learning experience. A good practice is to find a fast and reliable Wi-Fi connection. A Wi-Fi connection would benefit you with the flat rate charging tariffs that mean the cost of the learning program would not be affected. However, the Wi-Fi speed is also determined by the bandwidth of the connection. Having a low bandwidth would increase buffering time on your videos and in the case of online learning, this might mean you miss some content that is being delivered by your instructor. Also, you would have to stream low-quality videos that might make it hard to grasp the material being explained mainly through the use of illustrations such as images and charts. Choosing a suitable internet provider is, therefore, a crucial decision in online learning.
Choose A Suitable Learning Device
When it comes to hardware devices, online learning is delivered over a range of accessories that include mobile phones, laptops, tablets, iPads, and personal computers. The choice of your device would mostly depend on your particular circumstances. Another consideration for the type of gadgets to use depends on the type of web conferencing software that you will be using. Some software might not operate well in some devices, and this would be a significant consideration. You need first to find out if the device you are going for is capable of running the software you will be using.
In some cases, the schools will select the web conferencing software to be used. If this is the case, the device minimum requirements for running that software are also provided. This should guide you when purchasing the suitable device.
The issue of portability and power consumption is also essential to consider. If you are staying at home, you could choose to conference via a computer, but if you are traveling or moving around, a laptop or a mobile device such as a tablet could be more suitable. Mobile devices consume less power as compared to laptops and might also work better in case you are in a location with no constant power supply.
Ensure You Have Back-Up
When it comes to the use of technical gadgets, failure is one occurrence you can never predict. Failure could also occur in any form in case of online learning such as Wi-Fi downtime, or power blackout, or the malfunctioning of gadgets. If you do not want to miss out on any of your essential lectures, you should think about having a backup plan that you can use in case of a failure. Among the critical backup items for online learning include a backup gadget that is fully charged and backup internet connection. If you are using a Wi-Fi connection as your source of the internet, you should get mobile carrier data to use as a backup or a portable home Wi-Fi gadget. You can easily switch to any of these in the event of a blackout or a system failure. When it comes to the backup gadgets, you could decide to have a spare tablet or mobile device that you are sure can hold power for a reasonable amount of time. This would help you to stay connected until your primary systems are back online.
Create An Online Schedule
One thing about online learning is that it puts you in a unique position where you can easily get addicted to online socialization and social media. This can often consume a lot of your time and deprive you of the time you need to study research and other essential things. It is just not easy to draw the line between socialization and doing critical things when you engage in online learning. Having a schedule that you stick to can help you in this regard. This can help you to set up in advance the maximum time that you would allow yourself to use social media and your gadgets.
Setting an online schedule would include setting an overall limit on your screen time. You do not want to spend all your time glued to your screen. This can be unhealthy for you or even your children. This is also known to reduce your brain activity and attentiveness which might mean that you miss out on some critical information shared through the program. Having a balanced schedule, on the other hand, would help you to stay healthy and active to ensure you benefit more from the online course you are taking.
Set Up A Conducive Learning Environment
This minor detail of your online learning preparation could also determine the difference between a successful and a non-successful one. Having a conducive environment works well in ensuring that you benefit from our classes and understand the concepts that are being aired. First and foremost, you need to ensure that your physical working environment ensures you have easy access to your computer and note-taking platforms. Others prefer to take notes the old-fashioned way using a notebook and a pen. This exercise would help to keep you attentive throughout the course and ensure that you grasp the main concepts being explained.
Your working space should be free from distractions as possible. To facilitate this, you should have the goal of separating your study areas from your sleeping and area or entertainment sets. When students are tempted to attend online classes from the comfort of their beds or living rooms, it becomes tempting to doze off during the lessons, and this affects their overall output in the class. This area should also be well lighted with natural light if possible and contain sufficient circulation of air to keep your brain active and attentive throughout.
Ensure Working And Effective Communication Channels
Even after making all the necessary preparations and attending the online lectures, it is still essential to keep in touch with your professors and some of your classmates. This is especially important considering that you do not meet physically. Regular communication would ensure that you are on the right track, especially when it comes to assignments and finish the takeaway exams. Regular interaction with your classmates would provide you with an opportunity to synchronize your ideas and ensure that you are all on the same page.
When attending online classes, your professor might not be able to get direct feedback from the attendees as compared to what he might get in a typical classroom. Thus, at times he might not be able to know when a concept has not been adequately explained and is misunderstood. Regular communication with him can help to bring to light such glitches, and this would enable them to clarify these points further. It provides an essential form of feedback that is needed to improve your online learning experience. In other instances, communication with your instructors would come in handy when you need an extended deadline or are facing a unique challenge such as access to learning materials, and so on.
The majority of the items discussed in this article concerning online learning suggest the importance of preparation. Preparations, as we have seen, are all done in advance before the beginning of the course to ensure that everything is in place before you start. Preparations include ensuring you have the necessary hardware and software for attending the classes, having a suitable internet connection and backup equipment, and also getting prepared for the program. Personal preparation and frequent communication with your classmates and professors also help to keep your course running smoothly.