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How to study online for the best results

We've all experienced classroom study in school, but online learning is something completely different. Here are six practical tips to show you how to study online and achieve online  study success.

1. Motivation is key

Online learning suits self-starters and people who really want to learn, but it can be a challenge too because the motivation and discipline all has to come from you.

The great thing about this is that the commitment and self-motivation required to make the grade in online learning is extremely attractive to employers. Remember that by attaining an online qualification, you've already demonstrated the drive to work independently and efficiently. This alone gives you a great advantage over other applicants.

How to study online to achieve best results

2. Set realistic study goals

Different online courses have different workloads. Make sure you know how much time is required so you can balance study with other commitments. For example, if you work full-time and have a family or an active social life, don't trick yourself into thinking you can manage 25 hours of study each week.

Unsure about the time you can devote? Consider signing up for just one unit at a time when you first start your course. See how you go about fitting it into your life – you can increase your workload as you grow more confident in your time management abilities.

3. Make online study part your daily routine

Set aside time for online learning just as you would for attending classes. Give yourself ample time to sit down and read through your materials, so you understand everything clearly.

Identify the time of day you will devote to studying. Ask yourself: are you a morning person or a night owl? Then schedule in your study at a time when you’re performing at your peak.

Don’t forget to factor in time for healthy snacks and breaks – they help keep you awake and focused. Once you refine your study skills, online learning can be made a lot more effective with the application of these techniques.  

4. Understand how online study works

Before you start your course, find out more about how to study online, including:

  • Submitting coursework
  • Accessing discussion groups
  • Contacting instructors
  • Accessing library facilities
  • Changing enrolment details.

Getting all this down pat before you start will help you feel in control and ready to focus on your course.

Make sure you understand in advance how your course will be assessed. Are exams held at particular times? Do you have to enrol for them? Are there any 'contact hours' at all? Are there times when participants need to be online at the same time?

5. Get help from people in your study network

Make the most of the support you can get through your online course provider. Lecturers and tutors can guide you through coursework, while support staff can assist with study tips, professional contacts and administrative issues.

Students can also help each other via online chat rooms, forums and social media groups.

As an online learner, your tutors understand you have other commitments. If things get on top of you, let them know. You might be able to negotiate an extension.

6. Reward yourself for success

Online study requires discipline. So reward yourself every time you achieve a study goal – this will motivate you to keep going and complete your course. It can be as simple as enjoying a piece of cake for getting through the week's readings, or treating yourself to a massage for getting an assignment in. It's important to reflect on what you’ve learnt and be proud of yourself.

Discover what employers really think about online study, and the real facts about online courses.

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