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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Featured photo credit: Stefan Vladimirov via unsplash.com

Reference

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John Obstander

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

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Last Updated on March 31, 2020

How to Know Which Types of Learning Styles Work for You?

How to Know Which Types of Learning Styles Work for You?

One of the biggest realizations I had as a kid is that teaching in school could be hit or miss for students. We all have our own different types of learning styles. Even when I was in study groups, we all had our own ways of uncovering solutions to questions.

It wasn’t only until later in my life did I realize how important it is to know your own learning style. As soon as you know how you learn and the best way to learn, you can better retain information. This information could be crucial to your job, future promotions, and overall excelling in life.

Best of all about this information is that, it’s not hard to figure out what works best for you. There are broad categories of learning styles, so it’s a matter of finding which one we gravitate towards most.

What Are the Types of Learning Styles?

Before we get into the types of learning styles, there’s one thing to know:

We all learn through repetition.

No matter how old you are, studies show that repetition allows us to retain and learn new information.[1] The big question now is what kind of repetition is needed. After all, we all learn and process information differently.

This is where the types of learning styles come in. There are eight in total and there is one or two that we prefer over others. This is important because when reading these learning styles, you’ll feel like you’d prefer a mixture of these styles.

That’s because we do prefer a combination. Though there will be one style that will be more predominate over the others. The key is finding which one it is.

Visual Learning

A visual learner (also known as the spatial learner) excels at deciphering anything visual – typically maps and graphs.

If you are this type of learner, you likely excelled at geometry in math class but struggled with arithmetic and numbers. To this day, you might also struggle with reading and writing to a degree.

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While visual learners are described as “late bloomers,” they are highly imaginative. They also process what they see much faster than what they hear.

Verbal Learning

Verbal learning, on the other hand, is learning through what’s spoken. Verbal learners excel in reading, writing, speaking, and listening. Because of that, they are likely the ones to find thrills in tongue twists, word games, and puns.

They also thoroughly enjoy drama, writing, and speech classes. But give them maps, or challenge them to think outside of the box and they’ll struggle a bit.

Logical Learning

Not to be confused with visual learners, these learners are good at math and logic puzzles. Anything involving numbers or other abstract visual information is where they excel.

They can also analyze cause and effect relationships quite well. Part of that is due to their thinking process being linear.

Another big difference is their need to quantify everything. These people love grouping information, creating specific lists, agendas or itineraries.

They also have a love for strategy games and making calculations in their heads.

Auditory Learning

Similar to verbal learning, this type of learning style focuses on sounds on a deeper level. These people think chronologically and excel more in the step-by-step methods. These are likely the people who will watch Youtube videos to learn or do something the most.

These learners also have a great memory of conversations and love debates and discussions. Chances are likely these people excel at anything oral.

Also as the name suggests, these individuals have great musical talents. They can decern notes, instruments, rhythms and tones. That being said, they will have a tough time interpreting body language, expressions and gestures. This also applies to charts, maps and graphs.

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Social Learning

Otherwise known as the interpersonal learner, their skills are really unique. They don’t particularly excel in classrooms but rather through talking to other people.

These are the people who are excited for group conversations or group projects. Mainly because they are gifted with coming up with ideas and discussing them.

They also have a good understanding of people’s emotions, facial expressions, and relationship dynamics. They are also likely the first people to point out the root causes of communication issues.

Intrapersonal Learning

The reverse of interpersonal learning, these people prefer learning alone. These are the people who love self-study and working alone. Typically, intrapersonal learners are deeply in tune with themselves meaning they know who they are, their feelings, and their own capabilities.

This type of learning style means you love learning something on your own and typically every day. You also have innate skills in managing yourself and indulging in self-reflection.

Physical Learning

Also known as kinesthetic learning, these people love doing things with their hands. These are people who loved pottery or shop class. If you’re a physical learner, you’ll find you have a huge preference in using your body in order to learn.

This means not just pottery or shop class you enjoyed. You may also have loved sports or any other art medium like painting or woodwork. Anything that involved you learning through physical manipulation you enjoyed and excelled at.

Though this doesn’t just apply to direct physical activities. A physical learner may also find that they learn well when both reading on any subject and pacing or bouncing your leg at the same time.

Naturalistic Learning

The final learning style is naturalistic. These are people who process information through patterns in nature. They also apply scientific reasoning in order to understand living creatures.

Not many people may be connected to this one out of the types of learning styles primarily because of those facts. Furthermore, those who excel in this learning end up being farmers, naturalists or scientists.

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These are the people who love everything with nature. They appreciate plants, animals, and rural settings deeply compared to others.

How to Know Which One(s) Suit You Better?

So now that you have an idea of all the types of learning styles we have another question:

Which one(s) are best for you?

As a reminder, all of us learn through a combination of these learning styles. This makes pinpointing these styles difficult since our learning is likely a fusion of two or more of those styles.

Fortunately, there are all kinds of methods to narrow down which learner you are. Let’s explore the most popular one: the VARK model.

VARK Model

Developed by Neil Fleming and David Baume, the VARK model is basically a conversation starter for teachers and learners.[2] It takes the eight types of learning styles above and condenses them into four categories:

  • Visual – those who learn from sight.
  • Auditory – those who learn from hearing.
  • Reading/writing – those who learn from reading and writing.
  • Kinesthetic – those who learn from doing and moving.

As you can probably tell, VARK comes from the first letter of each style.

But why use this particular model?

This model was created not only for discussion purposes but for learners to know a few key things — namely understanding how they learn.

Because our school system is focusing on a one-size-fits-all model, there are many of us who struggle learning in school. While we may no longer go to school, these behaviors persisted into our adult lives regardless. While we aren’t learning about algebra or science, we may be learning new things about our job or industry. Knowing how to best retain that information for the future helps in so many ways.

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As such, it can be frustrating when we’re in a classroom setting and aren’t understanding anything. That or maybe we’re listening to a speech or reading a book and have no clue what’s going on.

This is where VARK comes back in. To quote Fleming and Baume:

“VARK above all is designed to be a starting place for a conversation among teachers and learners about learning. It can also be a catalyst for staff development- thinking about strategies for teaching different groups can lead to more, and appropriate, variety of learning and teaching.”

Getting into the specifics, this is what’s known as metacognition.[3] It helps you to understand how you learn and who you are. Think of it as a higher order of thinking that takes control over how you learn. It’s impossible to not use this while learning.

But because of that metacognition, we can pinpoint the different types of learning styles that we use. More importantly, what style we prefer over others.

Ask These Questions

One other method that I’ll mention is the research that’s done at the University of Waterloo.[4] If you don’t want to be using a lot of brainpower to pinpoint, consider this method.

The idea with this method is to answer a few questions. Since our learning is a combination of styles, you’ll find yourself leaning to one side over the other with these questions:

  • The active/reflective scale: How do you prefer to process information?
  • The sensing/intuitive scale: How do you prefer to take in information?
  • The visual/verbal scale: How do you prefer information to be presented?
  • The sequential/global scale: How do you prefer to organize information?

This can narrow down how you learn and provide some other practical tips for enhancing your learning experience.

Final Thoughts

Even though we have a preferred style of learning and knowing what that is is beneficial, learning isn’t about restriction. Our learning style shouldn’t be the sole learning style we rely on all the time.

Our brain is made of various parts and whatever style we learn activates certain parts of the brain. Because of this fact, it would be wise to consider other methods of learning and to give them a try.

Each method I mentioned has its merits and there’s not one dominate or superior method. What method we like is entirely up to our preferences. So be flexible with those preferences and uncover what style works best for you.

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Featured photo credit: Anna Earl via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] BrainScape: Repetition is the mother of all learning
[2] Neil Fleming and David Baume: VARKing Up the Right Tree
[3] ERIC: Metacognition: An Overview
[4] University of Waterloo: Understanding Your Learning Style

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