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How To Overcome The Challenges Of Online Learning

How To Overcome The Challenges Of Online Learning

A child studying at a computer.

When the Covid-19 pandemic first hit, none of us were prepared for the challenges that lay ahead.

Mixed in with all the lockdowns, the Covid tests and the ways it transformed our lifestyles, we were also forced to embrace the future of education more quickly than we could have ever imagined: online learning.

Whilst the new educational landscape is mostly exciting and filled with potential, there are inevitably some challenges during the adaptation process.

In this post, we will explore some of the challenges with eLearning that students and parents of students face as well as how to overcome them. Namely we will discuss:

  • Self-Motivation and Discipline
  • Building A Learning Community
  • Overcoming Technical Issues
  • Finding Engaging Online Learning Content
  • Developing Effective Study Strategies

Self-Motivation and Time Management


One of the great things about online learning is the flexibility. You can choose when and where you study; many online courses are self-paced so you can even decide how quickly or slowly you want to study. All this flexibility can be … well, liberating. It means you’re able to work your online study schedule around your other commitments – whether that be work, family or even other classes you’re taking.

It also means that more of the onus is on you to get the work done though, which for some who struggle with self-motivation and time management in their studies, can be a problem. With no fixed schedule imposed on you or a physical location you have to go to take class, some students find it hard to maintain discipline and just get down to the nitty gritty of studying as often as they need to. Here are three tips to overcome this problem:

  1. Allocate a set study space. Whether you decide to clear a space in your home to set up a comfortable working environment, or you select that perfect coffee shop where the music is quiet, and the Wi-Fi is free – finding a set place to study can literally help you ‘get in the zone’.
  2. Set yourself a fixed time to study. Putting a time in your diary for studying can help you maintain momentum with your online studies. Added to this, you might find it useful to set an alarm on your phone to remind you when it’s time to study. When you hear that beep go off, stop what you’re doing and begin.
  3. Use time where you usually don’t do anything productive. If tips 1 and 2 don’t work for you, why not consider using some of your ‘dead’ time productively? Get out your tablet on the train to work or scroll through the latest course material in the dentist’s waiting room. You’d be surprised how much these moments of inactivity add up.

Building a Learning Community


The best way to learn is with other people who want to master the same thing. This is why it’s so important not to go it alone. Find people in online groups (e.g. Facebook groups) who are on the same or similar learning journey to you. Many online courses (like the Anne of Green Gables Living Book History Course) build an online learning community within the platform – which is a great feature to look for when you’re searching for the right material to study with.


Overcoming Technical Issues


You can’t go far in the online learning game before encountering … you guessed it … Zoom. It is a great tool which provides a wealth of engaging functions to make your learning experience that bit more interesting. That being said, for newbies it can be a bit of a learning curve to get to grips with. Thankfully Zoom provides a range of videos to instruct you in how to do anything and everything you might need to in your online classes.

For other programs or tools that you might need for your classes, it’s worth checking to see if they too offer instructional videos. If not, and there’s some obstacle you really don’t know how to overcome, why not look for a helpline or email address where you can ask for help?


Finding Effective Online Learning Content


Whether or not you’re likely to get a lot from an online learning experience, comes down to both you AND the course material you’re using. Before enrolling in any online courses, there are a few things you should look out for:

  • Does the course outline clear learning objectives?
  • Does it say how you will be tested to see if you’ve met these learning objectives?
  • Are you or your child the right target audience for the course e.g. age, level of knowledge in the subject area?
  • Is the instructor qualified to teach the subject matter of the course?
  • Can you take a taster of the course before buying it (as with the Anne of Green Gables Living Book History Course)? If so, does the style of instruction work for you?
  • How accessible is the instructor? Are there ways to contact them if you have questions?

In the case of courses from Living Book Home School courses, information on what to expect is provided both in the course description and in posts aimed at the parents of prospective learners (check here).


Developing Effective Study Strategies


As with in-person instruction, it’s important that you develop techniques that make it easier for you to absorb the knowledge being provided to you. There are certain study skills which it’s important to acquire if you want to get the most out of your online course. These include:

  • Effective notetaking. What’s the best form for you to write up your class notes? Do you prefer to write them up on the computer? Or does it work better when you write things out in your own handwriting? Does colour-coding help? Or highlights? Do your notes make more sense when written in a list, a spider diagram or scattered randomly on the page?
  • Revision. There’s little point making comprehensive, beautifully presented notes if you then stash them on a shelf never to be seen again. Make time (particularly before a test) to read over them. Then you might want to take the notes most relevant to the exam/essay you’re preparing for and put them on flashcards where they can appear in manageable bitesize piece of information.
  • Set yourself clear goals when studying. If you don’t set yourself a clear goal for your study sessions, then the process could go on forever. Particularly when it comes to exam revision or essay preparation, there’s always more to know about a topic. You could always go deeper into an issue. To make sure that you get the right balance between not studying enough and studying endlessly without getting anywhere – give yourself the goal of completing at least one particular thing each time you sit down to study.

Final Comments


ELearning is changing the current educational landscape and opening up exciting new ways to study. By following the tips in this post, we trust that you will be able to get the most out of these times of change.

Let me know how you overcome the challenges of online learning in the comments!

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