How to get the best out of online learning

If you are new to online learning, then welcome! Firstly, I wanted to talk about what online learning or e-learning is. For me, online learning is education delivered in a virtual environment, with collaboration between students and tutors, with interactions that are very much like studying in person. You may think of it as an endless loop – that should start from your first day as an online learner until you have graduated. Sounds interesting right?

I did my first bachelor’s degree with a different distance learning provider in the UK. I am not going to lie to you, I was not very impressed with the online environment and I did not find it interesting at all.

There was no virtual-social interaction with students, and I did not get to know who else was involved in the program, etc. That was a minus in my book. I thought there should be so much more involved with online learning. But, after completing this course and when I started my MSc at Derby, that was when I found out what real online learning stood for. The interaction between students and students, students, and tutors was simply amazing. I have been able to ‘virtually’ get to know my tutor, who has been helping and supporting me with my goals.

The beauty behind learning online did not come from the University of Derby Online Learning (UDOL) alone, but I helped create an enjoyable environment for myself as well. So here are some top tips of how to get the best out of your online learning experience from me, a student who is doing their MSc Ergonomics online at UDOL:

1. Flexible times and environment
You can study anytime and anywhere. You can simply turn on your digital device and start studying in your bedroom, café, parks, etc., without any restrictions – well, you just need internet access. Online learning is designed to be modular and flexible. For instance, MSc Ergonomics is a program that takes three years to complete, only because you study one module per trimester. It may be long for some of us as we look forward to that day when we graduate, but looking at it from a different angle it gives us the ability to relax our minds and not think of any ‘study load’.

2. Cost
Who wants to spend more money than they should? Nobody, I believe! When I had to choose between studying online or moving from Saudi Arabia to the UK, the cost was a major issue for me. Moving from one place to another is costly (in terms of money, time, and effort), so the best option was to do my studies online and save the money I would have spent on moving so I could spend it on something else.

3. Comfortable learning environment
You may argue with this one but is it simple. You are staying home with your wife/ husband and kids. Imagine how beautiful it would be to see them every day, encouraging and supporting you throughout your studies? You may not find this option available if you choose to study in-class or move to another place.

Tidal power

4. No commitment to classes
With online learning, you are fully responsible and in control of your time. In face-to-face study, you would be committed to classes which at times may not be convenient to you. In other words, your classes might clash with other commitments. With the virtual classes at Derby if you miss them, you can simply watch the recording and catch up at a time that suits you.

5. You can study while you work
When you decide to study online you do not have to leave your job to study. You can do both together and you can apply what you learn into your work environment.

If you’re considering studying online for the first time my advice is go ahead and give it a go, set a dedicated study schedule and make sure you have chosen a university that offers a dedicated platform in which to communicate student to student and student to lecturers exchanges, as it’s so valuable to gain knowledge from others while you study.

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