This informal CPD article on Designing your own Online Learning Programme was provided by Alison, Free Online Learning Provider.
Online learning has revolutionised education by eliminating many of the barriers that previously limited access and opportunities. The time you need to have, and the place you need to be, to learn are no longer dictated to you by someone else. You can now learn whenever you want, wherever you want.
But despite the removal of these two major obstacles, it can still be difficult to begin your journey of personal development through online learning. The internet has meant that anyone, anywhere, can now teach or learn, and as positive as this may sound, it comes with its own problems. The scale of online learning opportunities can be daunting to newcomers. Where do you start? How do you know what platform to choose?
Before you start learning, regardless of the topic you want to study or skill you wish to acquire, it's important that you develop an Online Learning Programme. This will allow you to plan your study, define your goals and make it much easier to stay committed to your learning in the long run.
The first step in developing your Online Learning Programme is to make sure you choose the right platform. It's worth taking your time to research the different educational options available to you online, as they vary widely in methodology and quality. Make sure you choose a reputable platform with proven results and legitimate learner testimonials.
Have a Plan & Stick to It!
Whether you're pursuing online learning to upskill in Project Management or to take up a new hobby like Digital Photography, the next step in devising your Online Learning Programme is to outline a plan. This plan should define your Overall Learning Goals and include a timeline. These are the two key pieces of information to have in mind before embarking on your journey in online education.
Without a set final goal in mind and a sense of when you want to accomplish it by, online learning can feel overwhelming, and it can be difficult to stay motivated. Are you upskilling in the hope of being promoted? Or are you broadening your skillset because you're thinking of switching career? While online courses are incredibly liberating, you also have to take full responsibility for your learning. In order to make sure you go the distance, it's crucial that you're organised from the outset.
Set Your Goals & Meet Them!
Once you've chosen your desired course or courses, you can set yourself more specific and gradual goals. These are milestones that will both motivate you and mark your progress towards your overall goal. Measuring whether or not you're attaining your goals is vital, and you need to bear this in mind when setting them. Does your course provide regular assessments which will allow you to gauge your progress? If not, how are you going to track your development? Do you need to self-assess? Are you developing a skill that needs to be tested out in the workplace? The benefit of setting yourself gradual goals is twofold. It's a way of tracking the progress you've made while also motivating you to keep going.
Make a Timetable & Keep to it!
While online courses have made the experience of learning more flexible than ever before, it's still important that you make a timetable and stick to it. You're setting your own deadlines, so you need to strike the right balance between not putting yourself under too much pressure while at the same time making sure that you're hard at work!
Once your learning time is built into your daily or weekly routine, it will quickly become a habit, and you'll find yourself sticking to it as you would any other timetable set by an educational institution or employer. Some online learning platforms have integrated apps for phones which allow you to learn on the go. These apps are synced to the desktop platforms and can radically change the time available to you for learning. This is a consideration worth bearing in mind when selecting your platform.
Implement What You've Learned
At the beginning of your Learning Programme, you outlined your Overall Learning Goals, so you know what skills or knowledge you're aiming to gain. Your Learning Programme should end with an implementation phase, in which you put what you've learned into practice. Whether that means looking for more responsibility at work due to your new Project Management skills or embarking on a photography project to test your Digital Photography knowledge, it's important to know that the learning won't end when the course is over.
We hope this article was helpful. For more information from Alison, please visit their CPD Member Directory page. Alternatively please visit the CPD Industry Hubs for more CPD articles, courses and events relevant to your Continuing Professional Development requirements.