Distance learning has special challenges. You will probably never see or meet the teacher. You won’t have classmates. You don’t have a campus full of people studying the same thing.But you can succeed! Plan on it! Follow the simple tips below, and you’ll do better in your learning. They may seem pretty basic, but they’ll help keep you focused and on track.
1. Set Goals
- Goal #1: “I will succeed in this course.”
- At the beginning of a new course, look through the materials. Break the lessons/assignments into manageable chunks. You might not have time to do a full lesson in one night, so plan for how much you can do, then stick to it until you’re done.
2. Establish a Regular Study/Learning Schedule
- Keep a calendar or journal with your study goals and important dates clearly marked-and look at it every day (a calendar can’t help you if it’s closed!)
- Determine what time is best for you to study. Is it after dinner on Wednesdays when your partner is at bowling? Is it Saturday mornings when the kids are at soccer?
- Take breaks-walk around and stretch. Drink some water or have a light snack. If you’re studying nutrition or health topics, you know how important this is!
- If possible, have a dedicated study place with all the supplies you might need (computer, paper, pens, calculator, etc.)
- Pace yourself. Don’t over extend yourself. There’s a reason it takes several years to graduate from traditional university. You’re in this to learn, not just to get a certificate, so make sure you’re learning, not just racing through the materials.
3. Talk About It
- Tell people what you’re doing. You’re more likely to stick to a course if your co-worker knows you’re doing it. If you are studying high-tech or internet development, the person might just know a programmer he can hook you up with for tutoring.
- Ask a friend to check up on you.
- Ask someone to proof your work before you submit it.
4. Join a Study Group-This Doesn’t Have to be Stuffy!
- Join a club. Aspiring financial planners could join a local investing club.
- If you’re studying a language like Spanish or Japanese, ask the owners of a local restaurant if they know anyone who might like to do language exchange with you.
- Get a mentor. If you’re taking a course related to health or medicine, ask a nurse or pharmacist if you can take them for coffee once a month.
- Search the Internet for bulletin boards or chat rooms related to your topic.
5. Know Your Learning Style and Use It
- Look for real-world situations and examples of what you’re learning about. If you’re studying about civil engineering, pay attention to bridges.
- You’ll be much more interested if you’re involved, not just reading about a topic.
- Put things into practice as early as possible.
- If you’re studying accounting, practice by balancing your checkbook.
6. Celebrate Successes
- Reward yourself with whatever works for you, along the way. Remember, you chose to do this. Be proud of your accomplishments!
7. Ask Questions
- If you don’t understand something, ASK. It’s been said a zillion times: the only dumb question is the one you don’t ask.
It’s not about memorizing – it’s about learning material that will help you in your hobbies, career, and life. Memorization isn’t a bad thing, but make sure you’re memorizing because you are really interested in the information, and figure out a way to use the memorized information several times within a few days of learning it. It’ll stick if it has real-world meaning.
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