Advertising
Advertising

Last Updated on November 5, 2019

How Online Learning Enhances Your Professional Skills

How Online Learning Enhances Your Professional Skills

Online education is becoming increasingly popular today, with dozens of online courses being held on a regular basis all over the globe. So why does online learning attract millions of people around the world? How does it enhance your professional skills and advance your career? And what is the future of this education trend?

Nowadays, studying in the network is not only popular, it is also very convenient. Starting from choosing an educational course, picking the right tutor, planning the time for the classes, and carrying out payments – everything can be easily done online.

What Is Special about Online Learning?

In recent years, due to the global growth of the influence of the Internet, the role of online learning has increased significantly. People like the simplicity, financial attractiveness, and fun of this way of learning in comparison with the traditional education. Indeed, studying online, you get easy and quick access to any material on your subject.

Wonder how to learn online?[1] You can also choose any convenient time and place for an online class to take part in.

The strategic goal of distance learning is to provide people of any professional activity and at any place of residence with equal educational opportunities through the use of new information and communication technologies. Based on the use of distance learning solutions, the education system creates additional opportunities for updating training content, teaching methods, and knowledge dissemination.

It contributes to all levels of education. Thus, a large number of people who cannot afford studying in higher educational institutions due to the lack of financial, physical capabilities[2] or professional employment can sign up for an online course.

Online learning is also focused on the organization of corporate training. It is difficult for corporate workers to make a training schedule for them to complete traditional full-time study. Being able to independently study when they are comfortable is a key for this category of students. With distance learning, every employer have a chance to plan his workload and schedule.

Advertising

Benefits of Learning Online

You may have perhaps thought about the opportunities that online learning can offer compared to traditional full-time education. Although the classic, well-established way of education and online learning do not exclude but rather complement each other, the advantages of online learning are quite extensive.

Some of these include the following ones:

  • There is no need to pay rent or incur other costs associated with studying in the classroom;
  • You can choose a training program and study while being away from the city;
  • You can choose any educational institution even if it is located outside of your country;
  • You are not connected to the venue of the training courses and have a chance to combine work and education;
  • You can organize your time for learning, which contributes to higher motivation, better time planning, and the ability to analyze and synthesize the material being studied.

Of course, there are many great things about online learning, which are mostly associated with online learning flexibility,[3] availability, and a high level of customization of the educational process.

What is more, the advantages of  e-education compared to the traditional way of learning are also obvious:

  • The possibility of lifelong learning;
  • Students are trained independently in their own way; they choose the time and place that suits them best;
  • A variety of subjects are at your disposal;
  • The possibility to follow your own pace – students learn the subject as fast as they can; they can review the material as many times as necessary;
  • You can choose a place where you want to study – you can study the material at home, at work, etc.;
  • The opportunity to participate in the highest quality or prestigious programs – you can attend courses at the best educational institutions, which are conducted by well-known experts, regardless of where they take place;
  • Opportunity to choose your own way of studying the subject – active or passive learning, various levels of interaction: “classic” written materials (with your own notes), interactive modeling, discussion with other students (via e-mail, teleconferences), more active use of multimedia (graphics, animation, sound, etc.);
  • Practical work with various technologies – you not only get information about the material being studied but also obtain additional knowledge and skills about the use of various technologies.

Types of Online Learning Programs

Educational institutions providing online learning programs can be divided into three main categories:

Distant Universities

For example, in the USA, there are a few of such educational institutions providing bachelor’s and master’s programs.

Find a list of distant universities in the USA. Decent establishments have the necessary accreditation.

Advertising

At the same time, there are also non-accredited programs, so it is important to find out what kind of accreditation a particular program has.

Corporate Training and Courses

Such educational organizations provide trainings and programs leading to obtaining a certificate and developing or strengthening any professional skills.

As a general rule, these are non-accredited programs established in accordance with the individual requirements of clients. Therefore, it is highly important to find out information about the course structure, its means and methods of communication, as well as student support provided.

Traditional Universities Providing Online Education

Many traditional universities and colleges have recently launched a part of their programs online, thus, expanding the list of courses offered.

How to Pick a Suitable Online Course for Yourself

There are three main features defining a quality distance education program. If you want to pick an online course that will highly contribute to your professional development, then you should pay attention to the following things:

1. Course Structure

A online education program never copies the lecture program of the same/ similar course. Instead of simple full-time study program duplication, the course is to be carefully organized in such a way to involve the student in the learning process with interesting topics and themes being discussed.

Besides, the structure of the course is to provide you with more opportunities to organize the online learning process than it would be possible with full-time education.

Advertising

The main idea of any online course is that it should be focused on the student, allowing the one to set the course content based on his personal needs and professional objectives.

2. Means and Methods of Communication

An online learning program may involve a wide range of information delivery methods; it could be email, telephone, online platforms, interactive television, newsgroups, audio/ video conferencing.

Communication methods are to be as consistent as possible to your learning style. So make sure to check it beforehand so that you stay on the safe side.

Depending on a course type, they can be either synchronous or asynchronous. The former require the simultaneous participation of both tutors and students, which allows for their interaction in real time. In this case, the means of information delivery include interactive television and video conferencing.

In turn, asynchronous methods are very flexible; they allow students to choose the time convenient for them to work on the course material.

3. Support and Contact with Students

Although participating in training courses remotely, students should in no case feel isolated from each other. A truly quality program is to involve a variety of methods and techniques for creating an atmosphere of real interaction between students and a tutor.

When choosing a distance education program, clarify how students get help and support from their instructors. Ensure that there are online support, chat rooms, online bulletin boards, and other student counseling and support tools.

Advertising

How to Use Online Learning to Enhance Professional Skills

Online education is a valuable tool in a fast-paced and highly competitive working environment. Professionals and experienced workers turn to online training or distance tutoring services to advance their career paths and strengthen their knowledge.

After all, online learning improves your skills and acquire new ones without being distracted from work.

Whatever your level of training, area of interest, preferred format or schedule, you will definitely find something that suits you.

Everyone prefers to study in different ways, and online learning can give you as much time and attention as you need. Flexibility and convenience make the process of online learning more relaxed, especially for those who are extremely busy in their everyday life.

The advantages of the online learning method have already been appreciated by many large companies around the world.[4] This type of education attracts many; not only with the opportunity to train a large number of employees at once but also with its affordable price.

Thus, large enterprises reduce the costs of staff development, while maintaining high-quality training. Online corporate learning can be done both during work hours and after the business hours.

Final Thoughts

The rapid development of information technologies and the widespread access to the Internet form new requirements for modern learning.

Taking into account all its features and benefits, there is absolutely no doubt in regards of how online learning helps you grow professionally and enhance your career.

More About Online Learning

Featured photo credit: Stefan Vladimirov via unsplash.com

Reference

More by this author

John Obstander

John is a productivity geek and a writing enthusiast who has no limits and got wings to take over the world.

11 Ways Using Productivity Tracker Apps Boost Your Efficiency How to Be More Efficient at Work, at Home and in Life 9 Best Calendar Apps to Stay on Track in 2020 How Online Learning Enhances Your Professional Skills 25 Most Useful Excel Shortcuts That Very Few People Know

Trending in Learning

1 How Social Learning Helps You Learn Faster and Easier 2 How to Build a Memory Palace to Remember More of Everything 3 How to Make Going Back to School at 30 Possible 4 10 Powerful Learning Hacks to Boost Your Learning Ability 5 6 Effective Learning Techniques that are Backed by Research

Read Next

Advertising
Advertising
Advertising

Last Updated on September 18, 2020

How Social Learning Helps You Learn Faster and Easier

How Social Learning Helps You Learn Faster and Easier

Have you ever noticed that you tend to learn certain things simply by observing others? Learning in this way is called social learning, which is one of the 6 common types of learning. It helps you learn faster as knowledge and habits are acquired easily when they are practiced by people within a certain environment.

Throughout the centuries, humans have incorporated social learning in their lives as a major learning approach. The fact that human behavior is learned has made this possible. From initially being the only way to learn, it is now the fastest and most comprehensive learning method.

In this article, you’ll find out how you can make good use of social learning and observed behaviors to help you learn faster and easier.

The social learning theory as presented by Albert Bandura is simple. It suggests social learning is based on attention, retention, motivation and reproduction[1].

While these stages seem like common sense, there is a surprisingly large number of people who go through social interactions without learning anything because they aren’t actively practicing the different stages.

Let’s get started with the first stage, attention.

Attention

Since our mind has a limited capacity for storing data, it’s the things that we pay attention to that stay with us. Giving 100% of your attention to a situation you learn from is guaranteed to help you maximize social learning.

Stay in the Moment

When you’re focused on learning from your surroundings, your mind will focus only on what it wants to learn, so distractions fade away. However, it’s very normal to be in a situation where the information you are getting becomes monotonous or you get distracted for some other reason.

Make sure you are well-rested and energized so you can spend your energy learning things that matter to you[2].

social learning theory

    Be Mindful

    Mindfulness in its simplest terms is tuning into we’re experiencing in the present rather than thinking about something that could or did happen.

    Advertising

    For social learning, you should be mindful only of the conversation or activity you want to learn from, filtering out other things that don’t matter to you as much at that moment. This way, your brain can make memories of what you are experiencing at that time only, which is the thing you want to learn.

    If you find yourself getting distracted, focus on deep breathing until the distractions fade away and you can bring your attention back to the learning opportunity at hand.

    For more tips on being mindful, check out this article.

    Don’t Multitask

    In today’s hyper-connected world, it’s normal, even expected, to be a multitasker. Being amongst people and checking emails on smartphones is now normal social behavior.

    However, when you want to maximize your social learning, don’t multitask. You should focus only on the interaction you want to learn from and block out all the rest.

    Don’t reach for your device, and don’t engage in multiple conversations simultaneously. In short, don’t have your mind and other senses deal with anything apart from learning.

    Engage Actively

    Similar to the above points, learning through social learning is fast and easy if you listen, speak, and observe actively.

    When you’re actively engaged, you respond to the situation by making relevant observations, mimicking important actions, and focusing on listening so you understand.

    To maximize the benefits of learning through social learning, be attentive to those who are around and looking to learn as well. A good example of this would be medical students on clinical rotations who are actively observing and listening to the doctor they are assigned to, and responding to his / her queries.

    Retention

    Paying attention is great for learning, but what about retaining the new information?

    Our brain has limited space to store data, so how do we ensure we remember things that are important to us?

    Advertising

    These tips should help increase your retention power.

    Repeat to Remember

    Our brain starts developing from the moment we are born, absorbing things from people and experiences around us. It is learning constantly, and repeated experiences help reinforce the learning.

    A new experience opens up new neural pathways in our brain, and repetition of these experiences[3] strengthens the pathways, helping us retain the information better and for longer.

    Increase Brain Power

    You can improve retention by increasing your brain power: exercise regularly, sleep well, and stretch memory muscles by playing brain games.

    Here are more ways to help: How to Increase Brain Power: 10 Simple Ways to Train Your Brain

    Make Connections

    Connect a social learning opportunity with mnemonics. Use mental images, music, and anything else you want to retain and recall information.

    Link new information with old to reach new conclusions. You can use writing and speech for this.

    Remember That Less Is More

    When you are looking to retain knowledge through social learning, try taking in information in small quantities.

    Full day conferences, lectures that last for hours, and similar learning schedules do not have the desired effect. The human mind shuts down when it is faced with information overload, and the learning from these situations becomes minimal.

    Research shows that if you are looking to retain information from social learning opportunities, it’s a far better idea to put yourself in the situation more frequently for a shorter amount of time[4].

    Motivation

    The idea of a tangible reward or the emotional high that comes with the sense of accomplishment is what motivates us to keep doing a good thing, while the fear of repercussions or unpleasant outcomes is what keeps from doing something bad.

    Advertising

    When a child observes that good behavior of a sibling results in them getting a treat, while bad behavior courts punishment, the child wanting a treat will be motivated toward good behavior by this social learning lesson.

    Motivation to learn new information and habits is a critical part of social learning. To stay motivated for social learning, you can try the following.

    Find a Role Model

    Finding a role model and basing your learning on them means you are motivated to duplicate the role model’s behavior.

    The medical students example fits well here again. The students will be motivated to observe and imitate better clinical skills and patient handling techniques by observing others around them and aspiring to be as good as they are.

    Make a Note

    Write down things that inspired you, and keep going back to them to stay motivated.

    Talk About It

    Talk to your role model or peers about what is motivating you in a shared social learning environment.

    An example of this is a person in rehab who is motivated to attend meetings by the presence of others who have managed to kick the addiction and are on the road to recovery.

    This is based on reinforcement or punishment. Positive motivation is reward-based motivation (satisfied patients) and negative motivation is punishment-based motivation (absolute dependence on drugs).

    Remember, no matter which type works for you, without motivation, there is no reason for us to do anything.

    Reproduction

    In the context of social learning, “reproduction” is not propagation of the learning, but the implementation of it.

    Reproducing learned information is the last stage of social learning. Once you pay attention to your surroundings and retain what you learned in the setting, you are then motivated to reproduce your learning so you can get the reward.

    Advertising

    Bandura suggests direct reinforcement, vicarious reinforcement and self-reinforcement as the different ways to reproduce knowledge gained through social learning[5].

    Direct Reinforcement

    This is when you act on knowledge, knowing the result will be positive, or avoid the act because the result would be unpleasant.

    To repeat the medical students’ example here, direct reinforcement would be one of them practicing patient handling techniques learned from their role model, with the expectation that the result would be a satisfied patient.

    Vicarious Reinforcement

    Vicarious reinforcement in social learning is the application of knowledge that has not been learned first-hand but is learned by observing the consequences of the actions of a third party.

    A good example of this type of reinforcement would be learning not to take drugs after seeing the condition of a drug addict.

    Self-Reinforcement

    Self-reinforcement is when a person decides to reward him / herself for good behavior, or bring about a negative consequence as a result of an undesired situation.

    Think of a student who has promised herself a scoop of ice cream if she gets an A on an exam she studied hard for, or decided to ask for extra coaching if she got anything below a C.

    The Bottom Line

    Albert Bandura presented the social learning theory in the 1970s, and it immediately gained popularity because of its simplicity, practicality, and immense potential for success. While the theory never went out of fashion, it is now experiencing a resurgence for all the right reasons.

    If you want to become a smarter learner, take advantage of learning experiences and the social learning theory to learn faster!

    More About Effective Learning

    Featured photo credit: Alexis Brown via unsplash.com

    Reference

    Read Next