Making the Most Out of Your eLearning Course
12 Tips for Effective Online Learning
eLearning is not the future of learning but the present; while it cannot and probably will not replace basic acupuncture training and is not a substitute for personal interaction and transmission of knowledge it offers many advantages.
But we must adapt.
If you have taken an online course and felt frustrated; if you bought a module but never managed to complete it; if you purchased an online module but never started – you are not alone. eLearning courses are more demanding than face to face classes; some of us struggle to find the time to learn in those courses; others find it hard to focus.
In the Role of a Student
Online learning is an experience where you do not share the space with the speaker or peers; you pay for a class and join a live streaming class or take a pre-taped one at your leisure, with your own self.
You enjoy the comfort of your home, you do not HAVE to study now, you may remain in your other roles as a mother, brother, partner, even a therapist, while you try to be a student.
Challenges in effective eLearning
From what we said above, we can gather some of the challenges that anybody taking an online module might face. And I feel that this is even more challenging in postgraduate courses.
The traditional classroom provides many proven elements that help us go through the learning process. But this does not mean that you can not enjoy the benefits of eLearning.
The challenges that we face when we are learning online fall mostly into these three categories:
- Time management
- State of mind
Some of the solutions to these challenges are in the hands of the provider and teacher. At the TCM Academy, we are constantly working to improve the platform and provide you with more tools for better learning.
Some things are already there. For example, we are putting a lot of effort into “chunking”. Our courses are divided into small chapters and therefore are easier to digest and not less important, it is easier to search them for specific topics. “In cognitive psychology, chunking is a process by which individual pieces of an information set are broken down and then grouped together in a meaningful whole.” [Wikipedia]
12 Tips for Effective Online Learning.
Let us see a few ways to deal with these challenges and enjoy the course we enrolled in. Reading these tips, you will hopefully realize they make online classes similar to in-person ones. Our mission is to take the best of both worlds and make the optimum learning experience.
1. Go “all-in”. This is not advice you often find in such articles, but it fits some postgraduate courses. If the course you are taking is not too long (up to 1 or one and half hours), set yourself time to do it and try to do it in one go.
Plan for longer than the stated course length.
- The Path of Microlearning. That is our recommended way, and as mentioned above, we take a lot of effort to bring you the materials ready in that way.
Set yourself short unites of learning time.
- Make it part of your schedule. Write learning blocks in your calendar. Learning is an activity that demands mental and emotional capacity, not something you do casually. Even if you plan to take short chunks of material while your patients are lying with the needles (and I know few people who do that), it will be better if it is planned.
Adding the time allocated to classes to your digital or written calendar helps focus on learning.
- Familiar yourself with the course- its length & curriculum, handouts/worksheets.
Then set yourself the goals.
- Be flexible and easy with yourself. If your original plan does not work, change it. Like you would change a treatment plan that did not work.
Perhaps you need shorter chunks or another hour of the day.
- Your learning environment. While you can take a class at the underground, commuting, most of us benefit from a clean and clear learning environment. Change from pyjamas to something causal but more “serious”. Set your mobile phone aside and close all kinds of notifications and other tabs.
Just like you would do when attending a face to face seminar or when seeing patients. Making a clear distinction between your daily activities and the studying phase helps to be in the right state of mind.
- There is no one else. Take responsibility. This is one of the toughest tasks, and most of the tips are meant to help you with that. As we expect our patients to take some level of their situation, you will need to step up.
But remember the following point,
- No stress. Be gentle and flexible. Remember – you can either stop at any moment and start again later or complete the course and retake it later. Watching a module twice is highly recommended. Time plays a crucial part in learning and embedding.
We are always learning.
- Individual medicine – Individual learning styles. Figure out, “What is the best way, for me, to learn and embed the knowledge. Combining different learning methods helps. That is why, sometimes, it is better not to print handouts (not to mention the environment) – make your own notes. Or summarise each chapter in your own words. Answer the short quizzes we provided.
Repeat the course after a couple of months. Coming back to it with experience will expose new ideas you might have missed before.
- Make it practical. Relating the knowledge to a patient helps to stay motivated and acknowledge what you get from learning.
Go and practice what you learn, check it out in your clinic and then come back and continue the class.
- You are not alone. One beauty of Chinese medicine is the variety of approaches. While you learn alone, you can still seek interactions with your colleagues. Create regular meetings in your area to share knowledge or use social media to ask a question, to share what you have learned. Letting others know you are learning helps to stay motivated.
If you are confused. Write to us, and we will ask the teacher the clarify.
- Reward yourself. Give yourself more credit for taking time to keep learning and evolving as a human being who provide support in the community.
After completing a course, share your certificate with others, tell them what new knowledge you gained.
The transition from a traditional classroom into the virtual one holds many gains. We save time and money on travelling and accommodation; we can adjust the learning to our own time, we can finally learn from that teacher who lives on the other side of the globe, we have the class recording for future review, and we can make the whole class stop. Just to have the speaker repeating what she just said. (I like that one).
It is not an easy transition, but we can make the experience positive and rewarding. With only some little effort.
See you in the next class,