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Some of the most common reasons that people sign up for an online course are that they want to learn a new skill, or that they want to advance their career. In fact, over 1 in 10 people in the UK have completed an online course within the last two years – so if you want a flexible study schedule, or want to save money while learning, an online course could be a great option for you. 

Whether you’re just about to start your first ever online course, or you want to improve your current study habits, here are our top tips for online learning!

1. Set daily goals for your studying

When you’re not attending an in-person class, it can be difficult to stay disciplined with your studies. By setting yourself daily goals for your studying, you can help hold yourself accountable for getting your work done, while keeping track of what you’ve completed already. 

Giving yourself clear expectations for what tasks need to be completed will help you stay focused. Make sure the goals you set for yourself are realistic, and don’t forget to reward yourself with a break or a treat when you complete them!

2. Set up a productive work environment

Having the right work environment will help you to maintain your focus, and increase your overall levels of productivity when studying. If you’re not sure what kind of set-up works best for you, don’t be afraid to experiment with different locations and techniques to see what works best!

Ideally, you should try to study in a space that is as distraction-free as possible. You should choose a quiet space that has good lighting and comfortable furniture, so you can avoid putting unnecessary strain on your body. If you don’t like working alone, a library or a coffee shop can be a great study spot – alternatively, if you know that other people will distract you, consider setting up your study space in a private room, or using headphones or earplugs to block out noise. 

3. Clear time in your schedule for studying

Keeping a regular schedule will help you keep on track with your studies, and help you organise your time better. One of the advantages of online courses is that you can study at any time of day that works best for you. If you have an irregular schedule (for example, you work night shifts), an online course could actually be better than traditional learning options, since it offers much more flexibility. 

Try to commit to at least an hour of studying a week – this could be one hour long session, or 3 20 minute sessions spread out across the week, for example. Having frequent study sessions will help you to better understand and remember the content you are learning, so try to make a habit out of this. 

4. Actively take notes

We’ve all been guilty of not writing down something important, then forgetting about it. From appointments to shopping lists, realising you’ve forgotten something major can be a very annoying experience – and this is no different when you’re studying!

Research has found that you’re more likely to remember something when you write it down, and if you review your notes within 24 hours, your memory of them can increase by as much as 70%. Make sure to make notes while following lectures, or when you come across any other important information, and then review them on a regular basis to make sure the knowledge sticks. 

5. Take regular breaks

You should treat a study session like a marathon, not a sprint. By taking regular breaks, you will actually be able to maintain your concentration for longer, and avoid feelings of burnout and exhaustion. A good rule to follow is one 15 minute break for every hour of studying – but it’s okay to take more or longer breaks if you need to!

Having breaks from studying will also allow your brain to process the information you’ve learned in that session, which will help you to remember it better. It can be tempting to cram, especially if you’re short on time or have an important test coming up, but this will do very little to help you keep your knowledge in the long term. Use your breaks as a chance to move away from your workspace and move your body around, get some fresh air, or get a refreshing drink or snack to keep your energy levels up.

6. Hold yourself accountable

Sometimes it can be tempting to skip a day of studying, or skim through a difficult topic, especially if there are other things going on in your life. However, one way to avoid slipping into bad habits is to share your study journey with other people.

If you’re in a study group with your coursemates, you can help provide accountability to each other, and give or receive help with any difficult course content. You might also want to talk about your course with your friends and family, or keep a blog to share your progress on. This is a great way to stay disciplined with your studies, and ensure you stay on track to complete your course.

7. Don’t be afraid to ask for support

We’ve all struggled with getting something done before. Whether it’s a problem with motivation, or finding something too difficult, sometimes there are hurdles to overcome when completing an online course. However, it’s always best to ask for help if you need it, so you can fix any issues you’re having and get back on track. 

At IT Career Swap, our students have access to dedicated tutors that are on-hand to help you with any problems you’re having with your studies. Speaking with your coursemates is also a great way to get peer-to-peer support. Don’t forget to practise self care and make use of the help and support available to you if you need it. 

8. Celebrate your accomplishments

The best part of studying is getting to reward yourself for your hard work! Whether you’ve just finished a productive study session or you’ve passed an exam, make sure you recognise and celebrate your achievement by treating yourself to something you enjoy. 

Final thoughts

We hope these tips have inspired you to make the most out of online learning, and if you’re interested in taking an online course in IT, why not go with IT Career Swap? 

As a CompTIA authorised partner, we’ll support you every step of the way – and thanks to our job offer guarantee, we’ll even help you find your first job in IT once you’ve finished your studies. Check out our course catalogue over on our website here, or call us on 0203 982 7573 to speak with a member of our team today!