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How to Study Online: 5 Steps to Becoming an Effective Learner

If you suffer from procrastination or lack of motivation, you’re not alone. We have some online learning tips to make your learning journey smoother and more enjoyable.

One of the best things about being an adult is that we can do what we want: go to sleep late at night, party until morning, eat junk food. Besides all those small pleasures, as adults we are responsible for ourselves, our choices, and our mistakes. We start to think about what to do with our lives. We choose where and what to study and what job we want. It’s all about the decisions.

How to Study Online-Text

What I like about adult life, besides drinking wine, is that I can choose how to develop myself. Fortunately, we now have online learning. It is like a candy shop with thousands of courses instead of sweets. And again, no one will tell us what to pick, how to learn, why, or when. It’s all in our hands.

Do you find this idea tempting and also a little overwhelming? Are you wondering how not to get lost? How to learn effectively? How to avoid simply wasting your time?

It helps to treat your learning as a project and design your learning path. By setting realistic goals, dividing them into steps, and tracking progress, you can reduce procrastination and enhance motivation. In this article, we’ll share with you a few important tips for online learning. They’re useful if, say, you’re learning SQL at our site LearnSQL.com, as well as for generally improving the effectiveness of your online learning experience.

5 Steps to Help You Conquer Online Learning

Step 1 – Define Your Needs

Like with every learning project, the first step of online learning is to check the needs of the learner – and that’s you. The very wide range of online courses on offer makes it difficult to decide which is “the one”. But choosing a course is easier when you know exactly what you’re looking for. Is it this going to be a hobby – something you want to try because you have free time in the evening? Or do you need to develop some professional skills to get that promotion?

Try to determine if this course meets a real need or is for something you think you might use at some unspecified future time. Remember, the more specific your need, the easier it will be to follow your learning path.

Once you are sure about the topic, the next thing is to take a closer look at your current level of competency. What are the particular skills you want to learn? How much do you already know? How will you use your new skills?

It is a waste of time to learn the basics if you already know them. Choose training customized to your needs, right down to what you want to develop and how you’ll know if you’ve achieved your learning goal.

Step 2 – Pick the Right Course(s)

Sometimes one is not enough. Try different courses to get a wider approach to the subject. Usually, paid courses have a trial option; I’d advise you to sample several courses, paid or free, to find out which ones are suitable for you. If a paid course doesn’t have a free trial, read the description, check the table of contents, and look at user reviews to get others’ opinions.

It is also good to pick a course that you’ll have time to complete. Sometimes you return from your job late in the evening, tired and with only about 30 minutes before you need to get to sleep. We don’t always have the time we’d like, and this can make learning stressful. If you undertake a very long, demanding e-course, it will take a long time to complete. The longer it will take, the greater the possibility that you’ll never finish it. Don't bite off more than you can chew.

Step 3 – Set SMART Goals for Online Learning

You probably have heard about the SMART rule many times. Maybe you’ve used the concept already. If you take the SMART rule seriously, it can help you reach your online learning goals.

Let's say you want to learn the basics of SQL. What would be your SMART goal? SMART stands for:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Achievable
  • Relevant
  • Time-bound

“I want to learn SQL” is very general. Let's make it SMART:

I will learn the basics of SQL from the new platform LearnSQL.com. I will study three days a week, one hour each day. I will finish the whole course by the end of this June. Afterwards, I will be able to work on a database and extract the data I need. It will let me more easily analyze data for my job.

Does this sound better? It certainly shows you exactly what the plan is. It will be easier to start and you know what the benefits are.

Step 4 – Find and Use Your Learning Style

According to the theory of multiple intelligence by psychologist Howard Gardner, there are seven learning styles. Everyone has a dominant type of intelligence and has certain learning characteristics:

  1. Visual/Spatial – Thinks with pictures, charts, graphs; has spatial awareness; uses their imagination; likes to draw and solve puzzles and can learn this way.
  2. Bodily/Kinesthetic – Is aware of their body; likes to move and touch; communicates well through body language; learns effectively through physical activity.
  3. Musical/Aural – Is sensitive to sound and rhythm; hears sound well in their environment; can learn with tools connected to music and musical instruments; may be more effective with music in the background.
  4. Interpersonal – Is sensitive to other people; understands others’ feelings; learns effectively through interactions and during meetings, dialogs, and conferences.
  5. Intrapersonal – Is very self-aware; has high self-esteem, strong will, and intuition; can be a bit shy; likes to work and learn alone, using books, diaries, or creative materials; is an independent learner.
  6. Linguistic – Can choose words effectively; thinks in words; learns well when reading out loud or reading to self.
  7. Logical/Mathematical – Uses logic and calculations; can easily see patterns and relationships; likes to learn by solving complex problems, puzzles, and mysteries.
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Each style needs a different approach to learning. For example, logical types like to solve puzzles, calculate, and experiment. They need to see the general concept and then can move to details. Bodily types like movement. They can learn effectively by employing active methods, like role-playing.

It’s important to note that everyone has all of the different types of intelligence. However, each type is developed to a different level, and one tends to be the dominant or preferred way of learning.

When learning online, focus on your main style but also use different learning methods to influence all your areas of intelligence. Doing this, you can achieve great results. Online courses are usually focused on one topic and learning tools are limited within the course. But you can always pick more than one course. You can also deepen your knowledge by reading articles, talking to other learners (or experts), or asking questions on forums.

Online learning provides a wide range of different learning forms. It is perfect for people who easily get bored. You can always enrich actual SQL coding practice with reading, listening, talking, watching videos, or completing challenges. Try to exercise the knowledge you get, make notes, review your material, and memorize key parts. When you get stuck, try to work through it without a hint, but grab a hint if you need one. Do not treat getting help as a failure.

Step 5 – Rest, Motivate, Reward, Repeat

Studying online can be time-consuming and addictive. We have everything in one place, on our computer. We can sit when and where we are comfortable and learn for hours. But don’t forget to take breaks! Our brain needs rest to focus and learn effectively. Even if you feel that you could spend the whole night on SQL, stick to your SMART plan of 30 minutes a day. When you’re done, go for a walk. You’ll remember more the next day and be able to continue learning.

Motivation is another important part of learning. Without it, you probably will not complete any online course. Motivation is usually strong when we begin a project, but it tends to weaken as we run into difficulties. Ask yourself Why am I doing this? Visualize yourself after you’ve completed the course. And try again. Sometimes it is better to take a break for a few days, learn something else (or just relax), and return to your main subject.

Rewarding yourself can also help. Remember that you work hard and sacrifice your free time for learning. You deserve the occasional little gift. The best way is to decide on your rewards at the beginning. When you have a motivational breakdown, think of what you really like – chocolate, French fries, a luxurious bath, going out with friends – and give yourself that reward after completing another lesson. Remember that eventually you’ll get to the “finish and print certificate” button. What could be more motivating than that? Well... the moment when you use your new skills for real is pretty awesome. You can be proud of yourself. It’s the best award ever.

Now That You Know How to Study Online…

… put it into practice! Whether you’re learning SQL, Python, or something completely unrelated to computer science, embrace online learning. Set SMART goals, find out what works for you, and dig in!

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