How to get the most out of your online course

By Zoe Taylor

When you’re studying online, it’s important to know how to get the most out of your course. Below are eight great tips for effective online learning.


1. Know your online environment
There are a lot of resources out there that will help you excel in your online course. These go hand in hand with your study, and even make it easier.

Cite This For Me is a handy little tool for when you need to write academic references. All you have to do is enter the details of the source you’ve used, such as the author’s name, the date it was written, etc, and it sets it out into perfect Harvard formatting for you to copy and paste into your assignment.

Another handy tool is Google Scholar, This has all a whole lot of information on a wide range of different topics – and it’s all academic and completely backed up with evidence. This is a great resource to use when you want information with substance that isn’t from a random blog or the not-so-trustworthy wikipedia. One thing to look out for though is a PDF or HTML link on the left hand side next to the website link – this will more often than not mean that you do not have to pay for the document before you can use it. If there is no PDF or HTML link, chances are you’ll have to pay and that’s not ideal.

2. Establish a network
It’s a common misconception that online learning makes it difficult to network. In one of our previous blog posts, Study Online, Network Online, we spoke about why this isn’t true.

Networking is incredibly important when it comes to launching your career, and it can be scary because it involves talking to new people and selling yourself. Check out the blog post above, or this handy graphic for tips on online networking.

3. Dedicate at least six hours per week
The minimum time that Colleges Online requires you to put into the courses you study is six hours per week. If you do at least this much, you’ll be getting a lot out of your course.

4. Stay motivated
It can be difficult to stay motivated in anything you do, and when you’re studying online is extremely important to make sure you stay on top of the work and don’t fall behind by skipping your hours for the week or putting things off because you’re not feeling motivated.

Simple things like setting goals for your work, assigning rewards for when you achieve those goals, and even opening the blinds can help you stay positive about your work, and in turn increase your motivation.

5. Don’t procrastinate
Lack of motivation can lead to procrastination, and it’s important that you nip early signs of these right in the bud. Procrastination creates a snowball effect. The tasks that you put off will become more of a chore the more you push them away, because when it eventually comes to the time when you can’t put the tasks off any longer, you’ll no doubt have other tasks you need to complete at the same time and this will become extremely overwhelming.

Eventually, your motivation will be almost non existent and the course you’re studying will become more of a chore, rather than a happy pursuit of something you’re passionate about.

In our blog post Stop Procrastinating, Get Motivated we go through some effective ways to make sure you stay on top of your studies and avoid those pesky procrastination habits.

6. Set goals
Goal setting is a truly magical tool. Sometimes there’s no greater feeling than ticking a task, big or small, off your to-do list. Set short term and long term goals that help create the pathway to your success.

Your short term goals are often stepping stones to achieving your long term goals. They may take weeks or months to complete, but make sure they’re not too magnificent, because they’ll be harder to achieve and less of a motivator.

Your long term goals are the magnificent ones, the ones that you work really hard to achieve – things like finishing your course and receiving that diploma, or securing your dream job. Things you can work towards over months or years.

7. Create an effective study environment
Bright, happy colours, lots of light and an atmosphere you feel comfortable or at home in (whether it be at a cafe, library or your local park), makes for an effective learning environment.

Get rid of anything that easily distracts you. If you’re often tempted by your mobile phone, put in on silent and out of your view while you’re studying. If you’re tempted by Facebook, Twitter, YouTube or any other distracting website, use a website blocker such as SelfControl to put a temporary block on them while you’re studying.

8. Ask questions
One important fact that we mention a lot is that you’re not alone when you study online. You have peers and lecturers that you can contact at any time with any questions or concerns you may have.

Also, your Colleges Online career advisor is also there for you during the day ready to answer your questions. And remember: no question is a stupid question.

For help in finding the right career path for you, or for useful tips on areas including studying and finding success, call 1800 143 080 or visit to contact one of our friendly career advisors!

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