Although online learning has increased in popularity in recent years, distance learning has been around since 1840, when Sir Isaac Pitman pioneered the mailing of assignments from his students back and forth to him for marking. Since then, the rise in computer technology has made online learning the ultimate convenient way to achieve a degree.
If you’re interested in finding out whether online learning is the best fit for you, here’s our ultimate guide to online learning, and how you can prepare for success in your studies.
What are the Perks of Online Learning vs Classroom Learning?
Although classroom learning has long been the norm for every student flying the nest, the growth in industry learning has cleaved a divide between wanting to establish a career, and study simultaneously.
However, famed for its flexibility, online learning is a fantastic option for students who wish to opt out of the mainstream full time degree education system, but gain a degree from a prestigious university from the comfort of their own home.
Online learning is also the fastest growing industry in the UK, and the global market has grown from $65 billion in 2017, to $146 billion in 2022.
The reason for this fast growth is the fantastic freedom associated with this method of education. For example, if you’re an individual with an established career, choosing to study online will mean you can carry on progressing your career, and may even help you enhance your existing skill set to set you on the right path for promotion faster.
Additionally, if you are a parent or a carer, and need to maintain a steady income while you study, online learning gives you the option to adapt around all your personal commitments, leaving you to study independently in your free time.
Are You Self-Motivated?
Self-motivation is an undeniable part of any online learning course, and the ability to achieve success in your studies comes with the resistance to distraction, and plenty of self-determination.
Although a degree of self-learning is integral to every university course, when engaging in online education, your commitment is your most important asset to remaining engaged and successful, and this quality is a skill that many employers look for in the interviewing process. The ability to manage stressful situations and achieve, regardless of any obstacles, is a valuable skill in any industry.
Can You Plan Your Time?
Planning for online learning requires a great deal of organisation from beginning to end, and is well-suited for students who have the ability to create routines for studying and manage their time.
Some courses will release all their content at once, whereas others will release at regular intervals. As a result, planning in your study time will help you to break down a large amount of content into manageable chunks each day.
To make this easier, you may want to invest in a diary or organiser to keep track of your learning progression and assessment dates.
Establishing an online learning routine that you can work with each day will ensure that when you’re planning for these assessments, you can spread your study time without the need for cramming.
Do You Have a Productive Learning Environment?
As an online learner, you will need to be prepared for spending a lot of time on your laptop or computer. Therefore, ensuring that you can work in an environment with adequate lighting, a desk and comfortable but supportive chair can make all the difference.
Your posture can suffer by sitting in front of a screen, so take regular breaks for mealtimes and exercise.
You could even try some of these stretches from Bupa, formulated to ease pain in shoulders, neck and upper back that can result from working at a computer. Keeping these muscles in good condition will help you to feel more comfortable while you’re studying.
You will also need to make sure you have a good strong internet connection so you can download your course content, and a quiet place to study that will allow you to focus well.
Although our courses are part-time, they do require a time commitment, so if you find yourself stretched with career commitments, and enjoy lots of hobbies in your free time, be conscious of this when considering your course, and be mindful not to stretch yourself too thin.
What Kind of Learner Are You?
When you’re deciding which course to study, establishing what kind of learner you are can help you find the studying method that suits you.
We all learn very differently, and our brains can be wired in different ways. You can find out what type of learner you are by examining how you relate with the following categories:
Pictures and images are useful for helping you learn new things, and you may also like to use spatial understanding. As a visual learner, you may also engage well with diagrams, and key code information with shapes and colours.
When studying, you may find it most useful to watch videos, or create mind-maps to display information more clearly. Mind-maps can also help you to make connections between different topics. You can use highlighters or gel pens to colour-code your notes, or coloured card to divide sections in folders and notebooks.
Aural learners respond best to listening in order to learn. You may learn best by listening to an explanation, or using songs and tunes to remember information.
Additionally, you could try reading your notes aloud, or recording them in a voice note to re-visit when you’re away from your desk and need to revise for an assessment.
If you need to research a topic more broadly, try searching for Podcasts, or audiobooks you can listen to on the move.
Verbal learners typically have a talent for both reading and writing. As a verbal learner, you may have a large vocabulary, and enjoy writing notes to learn a subject. You may also enjoy reading books to learn the content, or reading back over your own notes.
You could try using pocket-sized revision cards to learn specific content, or writing in exercise books for each module you study.
Kinaesthetic learners are known as “hands on” learners, and love to get involved directly in learning how to do things with movement, or investigating how things work.
Kinaesthetic learners make up less than 5% of the population, and often gravitate towards active careers.
As a kinaesthetic learner, you might struggle to sit for long periods of time when studying, so break up the time with regular exercise, or incorporate movement into your study time if you can by using an extendable desk so you can stand while you work.
Social and Interpersonal
Social and interpersonal learners work best in group situations, and are often good communicators. However, social and interpersonal learners often have the skills associated with other types of learners too - not all social learners enjoy speaking in front of others, but learn best by listening to a group discussion instead.
Therefore, as a social learner, you might find it useful to meet up with some course mates (physically or virtually), and share information, whether that’s in a roleplay setting, or a more formal discussion to compare notes, and share interpretations on your learning material.
Solitary and Intrapersonal
Solitary learners often work best alone, but can also be any type of learner.
As a solitary learner, you may prefer your own company to working in groups, and may be highly focused and independent. You may also prefer a mixed learning approach with the aid of various other aids.
Logical and Mathematical
Logical and mathematical learners are frequently drawn to activities that include pattern recognition, numbers and sequences.
If you’re a logical and mathematical learner, you may be drawn to problem-solving and quantitative data analysis, as well as logical reasoning.
Which Subject Do You Want to Pursue?
Choosing your course is an important part of your academic journey with ARU, and is as personal as your own life story. Choosing a subject that is meaningful to you could be dependent on your personal passions, life experiences, or your aspirations for the future.
Maybe you have a parent who works in education, or a grandparent who was a healthcare professional.
Maybe you’re passionate about the environment and feel like our Sustainability MSc is the perfect gateway to topping up your knowledge, or have always felt the urge to make a difference in leadership roles, in which case you could consider our Project Management MSc or Management and Leadership in Health and Social Care BSc top up course to help you take the next step up in your current role.
Whether your career aspirations come from an organic place, or as influence from family members and friends, online learning is the most flexible way to find your true calling.
If you’re open to being inspired, you can also read our student stories to hear how other students have experienced online learning, and the benefits they have received from their adventures at ARU.
Can You Look After Your Wellbeing?
Studying any degree can be taxing, but if you’re juggling career commitments, childcare or other responsibilities, it can feel hard to stay on top of everything.
It would be wise to make sure you’re looking after your wellbeing during the time you are studying, so you can balance your time effectively to avoid burnout.
When you’re committed to achieving your goals, it can be easy to forget how important self-care can be.
While you’re studying, it’s recommended to try and sleep for at least 8 hours every night, eat a balanced and nourishing diet, exercise regularly, and take regular breaks from screens.
Whether you take up a new sport, join a book club, start painting, or baking, do something you love alongside your studies, and take some time to meet up with friends and family to achieve a balance in your lifestyle.
Getting the Support You Need
Studying a degree, whether online or in person, can be a time with intensive emotion, lots of changes and some challenging life events.
For that reason, ARU is dedicated to helping you excel in your studies by providing you with levels of support designed to help you to succeed to the best of your ability.
If you find yourself struggling while studying, the university has an excellent student services hub who can offer assistance both remotely and on-campus, if you live nearby.
Search our full list of courses to start your ARU journey today.
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