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How to get the most out of a virtual classroom – learning online

Are you looking to step up your personal or professional development to help towards a promotion? Have you decided now is the perfect time for a career change by learning online.

Whatever situation you find yourself in, we are all using technology more than ever.

The possibilities now open to us in terms of communication, remote working, and studying online have been ramped up beyond any expectations, thanks in part to the pandemic.

So, for those of you entering online education and wanting to improve your student experience in a virtual classroom environment, here are some tips to prepare you and increase your chances of success.

What do I need to start learning online?

  • A stable Wi-Fi connection - there’s nothing worse than sitting through a virtual class, watching an online seminar, or in the middle of your one-to-one tutor session, and your internet constantly keeps dropping.   
  • Laptop or PC – you will need suitable, and reliable, technology. If you are taking learning online seriously, a mobile is not going to cut the mustard for accessing your online course materials. You don’t have to spend a fortune, but make sure you have the bandwidth, processing capability, and storage to get you through your courses. Oh, and a decent set of headphones are advisable too.
  • Desk or learning area – a sturdy chair with a desk if you have one. If this is not possible, at least aim to maintain the correct posture to prevent immediate aches and pains.  
  • Ease of access – you might be limited to time, and don’t want to waste your energy and focus unnecessarily, so make sure your books, learning resources, drinks and snacks, and anything else you need during your study sessions, are at hand.

This leads on to where you will be studying.

Find the best learning location

One of the main considerations with learning online is where you are going to be situated.

At the beginning of the pandemic, the sudden change to a remote world saw people making do with temporary desks on the edge of kitchen units, on their sofas, or in their bedrooms, if no other area was available.

And this is great as a short-term fix. But not the most conducive for an effective online learning environment.

So, where is the best place for learning online, to get the most out of a virtual classroom?

There is no right or wrong. It comes down to your personal choice and how you make the most of what is around you.  

Comfort, ease of access to resources, peace, and privacy are key elements if you want to keep your concentration high, and stay as productive as possible during your online study periods.

I appreciate that you may have no alternative other than to study in a joint space, surrounded by your family, or even a café or coffee shop. But do the best you can to create a dedicated study area and don’t be afraid to set boundaries around your study time.  

Avoid Distractions

Being home alone comes with its pros and cons. In fact, studies during the pandemic found that some students struggle with the concept of remote studying, because of the lack of interaction usually experienced with face-to-face learning. Yes, there is an acceptance that learning online can create a sense of isolation.

Some perhaps don’t feel as comfortable asking questions, querying certain points, and would rely on fellow students to answer their question (or possibly ask that same question) for them in a real-life classroom.

However, the pros of being on your own also mean there are ‘different’ distractions in a distance learning situation. Notice I don’t say ‘fewer’ distractions!

There is often a temptation to multitask, but please try not to.

Learning online takes dedication. So here are some tips on avoiding distractions:

  • Schedule specific modules or tasks, and know what you want to achieve at each sitting.
  • Set yourself a timer to work to, incorporating breaks and refreshments.
  • Make sure you finish any household tasks before you start your studying.
  • Switch off or silence any other tech or apps. That dreaded time-wasting ‘rabbit hole’ of social media, emails, and texts, is literally one click away! We’ve all been there at some point, casually scrolling through the news or social platforms, and before you know it, hours have gone by. Hours you could have spent writing that assignment due next week.  

Schedule your time for successful online learning

Speaking of timing, the beauty of learning online, particularly courses you can complete in your own time, means you can literally access much of your online course material at your leisure.

For many courses, you are not tied to traditional classroom times and, of course, avoid the stresses that can come with travelling to and from the class.

Although there may be certain lectures or presentations you need to attend in real-time, you can often study out of hours, at a time that suits you, and fit your learning around current commitments, family, friends, or your existing job.

The other benefit of this is that if you are a slower learner, or have a short span of concentration, you can dip in and out of the online modules. Bite-size chunks are just as effective, and far more inspiring, than knowing you have hours of screen-time and study ahead of you.

One thing I would highly recommend though, is accessing the learning material as soon as it becomes available.

Avoid putting pressure on yourself by completing essays or assignments right up to the deadline. Give yourself plenty of time to allow the content to sink in, and to research any questions you may have.

Participate fully

I’ve already mentioned that it can be tempting in a virtual learning environment to avoid asking questions, using the ‘raise hand’ function, or speaking in class. But the more you participate, the more you will gain from your experience.  

In fact, you can turn it to your advantage. If you are learning online individually, and have one-to-one tutorials, or direct access to your tutor via messenger or email, this is where you can really benefit.

You’ll be able to focus solely on your personal knowledge and learning, away from any other students who could take up time.

Although there may be times you might feel under the spotlight, participating and using all available communication channels with your tutor to ask questions and clear any uncertainty, will lead you to greater success. Step out of your comfort zone and see where it leads you!

Learning Online in Summary

To summarise then, technology is not going away any time soon. In fact, there are so many more opportunities for students in the online space now. The world has opened up, so I would strongly encourage you to make the most of it.

I have covered a few key points here, which I hope you find useful. Because, as you will see, creating effective habits from the start will help you get the most out of the virtual classroom, and enhance your experiences of learning online.

You could add to your CV, increase prospects for promotion, or learn something completely new.

From First Aid to Project Management, Assessor Certification to Starting Your Own Business, we have you covered!

And if you have any questions about learning online, or see a course on our website that you would like to attend, please contact us here at the Education and Training Academy. We look forward to hearing from you, and seeing your development!

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matthew reynolds
Mathew Reynolds | Managing Director and Teacher
Welcome to the ETA. It is my goal to help you get your qualifications in the easiest and quickest way. Unlike other training providers, I am putting my name and reputation on the line, I am not hiding behind logos, this is me, this is my company and I am accountable for you to reach your goals.
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