Common mistakes online learners make and tips on how to avoid them

Since the pandemic reared its head two years ago, online learning has become a popular way to study under the ‘new normal’.  Yet, as simple as it sounds, to shift from one way of learning to another does not come without its own set of challenges.  We bring to the fore some of the most common mistakes online students make when they first start learning how to learn online.

There is always a tremendous amount of excitement involved in starting something new and embarking upon an e-learning journey and doing an online training course for the first time is no exception.  Yet, at the outset, it is critical to have a set of guidelines to help you along your online learning journey.

With traditional classroom learning much of the organising of the where, how and when you will learn has already been taken care of.  You have a dedicated classroom, you are provided with course materials, the administration is usually in place by the time you get to the classroom, and you have a leader at the helm – an Instructor/ Trainer/Facilitator who runs the entire process.  Yet, with online self-study programs you are the one in the driving seat.  So, buckle up, get comfortable and get ready to enjoy the ride.

Points to bear in mind at the outset

There is no doubt that the flexibility online training offers has its advantages.  However, the potential exists that problems and complications will arise.  Over the past two years, online learning has really come under the spotlight and many have learnt where the pitfalls lie through trial and error.  Here are some of the most common mistakes people make when embarking upon online learning programs and tips on how to avoid them.

Dealing with technical hurdles

It may seem like common sense but, before you take the plunge into the online learning pool, have you checked to see that there is water in it?  First things first, you cannot start your online learning journey with faulty equipment.  So, make sure that you have dedicated access to a reliable computer that is equipped with suitable hardware.  Your study program should list the required operating systems and browser versions that you will need for each course.  This will enable you to access the required course materials.

Learn how to navigate your online classroom

It is critically important that you familiarise yourself with how to navigate your online classroom.  In doing so, you will avoid any confusion which can hamper your time and progress.  You should take the time to analyse your scope of work, do a mental check list of any questions or concerns you might have before you start learning and note any external resources you might need such as materials required for assignments that you may need to upload. If you are not completely au fait with your online classroom, you might make small but costly errors. For instance, once you have completed an assignment, make sure that you correctly submit it and hit the final submission or finish button once you are done. Otherwise, you could be under the false impression that you have completed a module or section that has not been accepted into the system. One small error such as this can cause all sorts of problems.

Being disciplined enough to manage distractions

Many online learners are distracted by what is going on around them as they complete projects and assignments.  While it may be tempting to leave the television on in the background to check news updates, switch to social media accounts to stay in touch with friends and get all the latest feeds or listen to inspiring music, all of these activities often add up to a whole lot of wasted time and a lack of focus on the task at hand.  This is where one needs a huge amount of discipline and personal resolve.   And this is where many online students lose the plot.  While it can be extremely difficult for some, getting into the habit of disciplining yourself at the outset will make your life a lot easier in the long run and save you from last minute panic situations.

Time waits for no one – even when studying online

One of the biggest mistakes online students can make is to incorrectly assume that they have all the time in the world to get through their online assignments.  Waiting till the final hour to submit an assignment can cause unnecessary anxiety and stress.  This is when many things often can and do go horribly wrong.  For example, you may suddenly lose Internet connection at a critical moment.

You won’t graduate if you fail to participate

As mentioned earlier on in this article, with classroom-based learning, everything is already in place for you once you sit down to class.  Whereas, with online self-study, there is no instructor leading any of your training sessions and no one to keep time to ensure that the whole class participates in discussions around the lectures.  The value of classroom discussions cannot be over-emphasised.  While it can be extremely tempting to feel like you wouldn’t benefit from online class discussions where students post various inputs and comments, if you fall prey to this costly mistake you will miss out on the opportunity to take part in a forum where fellow students offer their own viewpoints and perspectives.  In turn, such can and often does help you to solve common problems that everyone is experiencing.  In other words, you will have the opportunity to bounce ideas and problems around the class and put your mind at ease instead of battling through on your own.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help

Even if you are completely aware of the fact that you are sitting alone at your computer, it is easy to fall into the trap of thinking that you are working alone when, in actuality, nothing could be further from the truth.  So, if you are experiencing difficulties with an assignment or having trouble navigating your online course materials, don’t simply freeze in front of your screen and hit the rest button.  You may be sitting alone but that doesn’t mean you are not connected.  You are part of a class whose members are all working towards the same goal as you are.  Reach out to your fellow classmates and instructors and don’t forget that while you cannot physically connect with them, it doesn’t mean that they are not there.

Reference Sources: Ultrasoundschoolsinfo.com|

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