We all have areas where we want to learn and grow in our personal and professional lives. You might want to brush up on your Excel skills because you need them to advance at work, or maybe you enjoy taking photos in your free. We all have areas where we want to learn and grow in our personal and professional lives. You might want to brush up on your Excel skills because you need them to advance at work, or maybe you enjoy taking photos in your free time and would like to get better at taking portraits of your family. No matter what your motivation, you’ve probably considered taking a self-paced online course. And it makes sense — you can take these courses at any time, in any place.
In case you were wondering if self-paced online learning really is an effective way to learn, the verdict is in: Yes, it absolutely is! Studies have shown that people tend to remember more when they learn in a self-paced environment, they learn more online than in traditional lecture-based courses, and online learning is more equitable than classroom-based learning.
Spend Time Finding the Right Course
Next, make sure you find a course that’s right for you. You probably have a set of requirements for the course — you’d like to cover certain topics, you prefer a particular teaching style, or you want to have a certain format for the course content. If you’re able to find a course that fits the goal you set for yourself, you’ll be more motivated to complete it.
Once you’ve selected your course, it’s important to think about when you’ll take it. Consider how much time you have available to spend watching lectures and doing practice activities. It’s a good idea to start with something manageable and increase from there. For example, start with 20–30 minutes once a week and then add on another session or more time from there. Align these sessions with the action steps you identified when you set your goal. Workplace productivity coach Melissa Gratias is an advocate of “microproductivity” or focusing on one small task at a time.
There are no secrets to success. It is the result of preparation, hard work, and learning from failure. Paul Tournier
Plus, if you start with an unrealistic goal, you are likely to get discouraged and lose your motivation. Be realistic with the time you have to devote to online learning and choose a schedule that you know you can commit to. Research into the psychology of goal-setting backs this up: Being specific about your goals and setting ones that are challenging but not impossible can lead to high performance. Another trick is to block learning time on your calendar and make sure you don’t ignore it.