Self-improvement is high on many resolutions lists year after year, and online learning is a growing avenue for learning new information and skills. Below, we examine 5 different online learning options and present 5 tips to make your online learning experience a success. Take a look and find options that work best for your life, schedule, and personal preferences, and best of luck in achieving that resolution in 2020!
Online Learning Options
eCourses Manitoba is a platform for online learning facilitated by Campus Manitoba. It is a single point of access to online courses from Manitoba’s public universities and colleges. After creating an eCourses profile, students can browse a variety of degree, certificate, diploma, and professional learning options, filtered by subject area.
The majority of eCourses users apply their online course(s) to their degree or diploma programs already in progress. Campus Manitoba’s Help Centre is available by email, phone, or live chat to break down the process for you.
A Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) is a free online course in which anyone can enroll. Millions of people around the world use MOOCs for career development, personal learning goals, professional development, corporate training, and more.
Most MOOCs are self-paced, so learners can fit them into their schedules when time allows. They are facilitated by post-secondary institutions, learning organizations, and corporate initiatives. Fortunately, they are accessible all over the web; a few options include:
Continued Education through Public Institutions
Many of Manitoba’s institutions have online learning options for people specifically looking to achieve personal learning goals, advance their career, or obtain a microcredential, without becoming a full-time student.
Policies for enrollment differ between institutions/organizations, but options are numerous. Some include: University of Manitoba, Assiniboine Community College, Red River College, University of Winnipeg, Robertson College, Contact North, Creative Manitoba, and L’Alliance Francaise du Manitoba. Athabasca University is located in Alberta, but has fully accessible programs online, available to all.
With the mandate of promoting “ideas worth spreading,” TED provides free online membership, which allows learners to filter through lecture-style talks by subject area. You can also receive daily, weekly, or monthly recommendations for new or interesting talks.
These are excellent for the busy learner who may not be able to commit to the rigor of a structured course’s schedule, but still wishes to incorporate new skills, knowledge, and perspectives into everyday life.
FutureLearn partners with universities and colleges from all over the world to provide access to online courses, microcredentials, and online degrees filtered by subject area.
Courses are divided into total number of weeks, with learning tasks and discussions fit in as you work through the content. Students must commit a certain number of hours each week, for the duration of the course.
FutureLearn also links to microcredentialing options, and open/online degree programs.
Online Learning Tips
Set a time and stick to it…but don’t worry if you can’t.
Life is busy or inevitably gets busy after a little bit of downtime. To the best of your ability, commit a certain block of time to your online course each day. Much like how other parts of your day thrive on a consistent routine (for example, waking up and heading to bed), returning to your online course at the same time each day will build centeredness and confidence, no matter how busy the rest of your life may be.
That said, do not be too hard on yourself if you miss a session from time to time. Life’s little ‘surprises’ are normal, and even the busiest people have to stop for a distraction or other responsibility every once in a while.
Make your learning a social experience.
Learning in groups, whether it is in a formal academic setting or at your weekly book club, has many mental and emotional benefits. Consider having a ‘homework session’ where you and your peers work through personal projects, or undertake an online course as a full group.
Above all else, learning in groups prevents individual learners from feeling too stressed or overwhelmed with course responsibilities. The notion of being ‘all in it together’ can bring comfort and focus, particularly at times of heavy homework, right before holidays, or later in the week, when the weekend is calling.
Even though online learning can often be done at your own pace, in your own home, the information presented to you is still new and complex. Quality sleep ensures that you can understand new information as it comes to you, but also that you can consolidate it – retain, re-examine, and re-synthesize it down the road in new practical or hypothetical scenarios.
Most adults require between 7 and 8 hours of sleep per night. Try your best to go to bed and wake up at the same time every day.
Look for opportunities to connect with experts and peers.
Even if you prefer to work alone on your online course, online learning should not be a completely solitary venture. If your course is hosted through an institution, remember that you can (and should) connect with your instructor from time to time, to ask questions and ensure you are on the right track.
Much like students in a live lecture can ask questions at any point or visit their professor for office hours, your instructor will be available during your online lecture (if it is in real-time) or through email/telephone (if it is not) for you to ask questions. He or she may have a particular policy for communication, particularly outside of the regular work day. That said, be sure to ask what your instructor’s preferences are. Do not be afraid to ask for help as you need it.
Also, many online learning options have chat features that allow you to connect with your classmates in real-time.
Curiosity is a natural human tendency. Seek out learning opportunities that challenge you to think outside the box. Go beyond your comfort zone. Take on something entirely new. If you are looking to grow professionally, take stock of your passions, areas of interest, and job responsibilities to find options that best suit your needs. Talk to your family, close friends, or co-workers as you render a decision. They might surprise you with their perspectives.
Haven’t checked in with yourself in a while? Remember that we are adaptable as human beings and capable of growth and change. Our needs can change based on whatever is going on around us. Try a personality inventory like 16personalities, to begin thinking about what might (or might not) fit into your ‘usual’ preferences.
2020 is already well underway. Take some time to invest in yourself and explore a new challenge through online learning. Online learning is gaining strength and traction at the post-secondary level. Whether it is within or beyond your academic study, you are guaranteed to learn new, valuable information which will make you a more well-rounded learner, and person.
Campus Manitoba is a consortium of Manitoba’s public universities and colleges. Through collaborative projects and shared services, we facilitate student mobility and expand access to post-secondary programs for students in Manitoba. In addition to campusmanitoba.ca, our websites include ecoursesmb.ca, setyourcourse.ca, and openedmb.ca.