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Published on February 4, 2021

7 Most Effective Online Learning Tips For All Learners

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7 Most Effective Online Learning Tips For All Learners

Regardless of where you are at in your learning stage, knowing the best way for you to learn is key to intellectual growth. Growth can’t be achieved in your life as quickly if you’re not retaining as much information as you possibly could.

But the tricky part about learning is the fact that there isn’t a universal method that will work for everyone. Everyone is different in their own way of studying and learning. To help with that, I’ve put together some of the most effective online learning tips that you can use for yourself.

Even though each one of us has different learning styles and preferences, these online learning tips are still as applicable to you as they are to me. Here are the 7 most effective online learning tips for all types of learners.

1. Use a Learning Strategy That Works for You

The first online learning tip is to use a learning strategy that works for you. What I mean by this is that there are four core methods for us to learn.

  • Visual (learning through sight)
  • Auditory (learning through hearing)
  • Reading/Writing (learning through text and print)
  • Kinesthetic (learning through action)

Not everyone learns exclusively through one of these four methods though. We often have a mix of each one of these things. However, there is definitely one style of learning that each of us prefers over the other if we can get away with it.

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Knowing which type of learner you are most dominant in can help you devise strategies and techniques around your studying habits whenever possible. Of course, you can still use the other methods loosely or may have to rely on them more in certain circumstances.

2. Pick the Best Time and Place to Learn

This online learning tip does not only apply to online learning but offline/physical as well. Choosing when to learn and study is very important in terms of maximizing your energy and learning more efficiently. We all have different energy levels over the course of the day, and some of us prefer to do certain activities at certain points in the day.

For example, your night time might be the best time for you to be studying as you can retain more information and you’re more alert compared to studying in the morning. The same could be said about the morning as well given that some folks are more alert (early risers) during the day than they are during nighttime.

Being able to strike a balance between your energy and alertness levels while also considering the time of day is crucial when it comes to learning and studying and even doing other things.

Another factor that can come into play aside from time is location. The atmosphere around you can contribute greatly to the quality of your studying and learning time.[1]

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Things that can help with improving the atmosphere are things like:

  • Lighting
  • Seating
  • Tablespace
  • Quietness
  • Listening to music such as soft jazz or classical music.

3. Taking Good Notes

Even if you’re not physically studying at school or in a classroom, note-taking is still an important part of learning and growing intellectually. How good your notes are will determine how useful studying them later will be. A sign of good note-taking is when the notes are written or seen in such a way that you know the sequence of information that was brought up revolving around them.

With that in mind, you want your notes to be as detailed as possible for you to be able to retain them. It’s also here where you can lean into the type of learner you are. You could write or type out the information and have key bullet points, have a trigger word to recall what was discussed in class, or use pictures to help you.

Some other strategies to consider that can help you out are the following:

  • If you’re in a class that’s given assigned reading, read through it before the next class. Do the same with your previous notes.
  • Keep your notes from each subject together. Have notebooks for every class or topic you’re deeply exploring. This way, you avoid confusing them or mixing up information while reviewing them.
  • Always write down the main points of the topic so you can get a brief but solid overview of the subject.

4. Review and Simplify Often

Reviewing notes and previous ideas will, of course, be very helpful for you. Consider these as prompts that you’re able to use to recall the rest of the information. But instead of waiting until big tests or some other key date, I’d suggest getting into the habit of spending a half-hour every day to review content or notes. By reviewing things constantly, you’re not overwhelmed with the amount of information that you’ve got to handle.

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Another thing you can consider is to simplify the process as much as you possibly can. I find this to be super helpful as it gets me to ask the question, “how can I make retaining this information easier for me?” This leads me to review my notes and reorganize them and then trim them down to easier and bite-sized pieces of information.

If you are constantly simplifying the process—from organizing notes to slimming them down—you’re still learning and growing. Some other methods for simplifying notes are highlighting or underlining keywords, concepts, or phrases. You can also employ more visual aids or construct mind maps to help with remembering better.

5. Avoid Distractions

This is probably one of the most obvious but also important online learning tips because any distraction is a bad one when it comes to trying to learn or review something. Sometimes, distraction comes from outside sources that are beyond our control. However, there are also several other things that are internal that can be distracting.

These are things like our cell phones or having various tabs on your computer up while you’re reading or studying something else. We don’t often think about those as distractions, but they can and will pull us away from learning.

Here are some ways that can help you mitigate distractions:

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  • Getting a white noise generator
  • Listening to music that can help you concentrate and drown out any other sounds
  • Turning off your cell phone
  • Closing down tabs or even blocking access to certain sites during a period of time

6. Speak to Instructors or Use Feedback Loop

Another one of the key online learning tips is speaking with your teachers when you can or using the feedback loop if you can’t.

The feedback loop is similar to speaking to an instructor as you’re essentially roleplaying as the instructor and approaching the question with a fresh perspective and pair of eyes. From that perspective, you’re giving yourself feedback that wouldn’t be so different from a student/teacher relationship.

By employing the feedback loop or speaking to instructors, you’re able to look for more clarity and understanding in the situation. Seeking guidance also allows you to gain better insights and learn better and more effectively.

7. Study in Groups (Online or Offline)

Similar to talking to your teacher or using the feedback loop, discussing topics with other people around you is another way that you can help improve your learning. This online learning tip is a touch different from the previous tip because it’s more of a collaborative approach to understanding something.

There are other benefits as well with having someone to bounce questions and study together. It allows you to be more focused, bond more with other people, and can help you grow and maintain motivation, too. Studying in groups also helps you learn more efficiently and effectively.[2]

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Final Thoughts

The key to studying and learning is to make it as simple of a process as it can be for you. But developing this system is an acquired skill for everyone, and it requires plenty of time and patience on your part. This is especially the case given the current global pandemic that we are facing, forcing us to remote learning. But through these online learning tips, you’ll be able to get closer to building that system and making studying and learning for you easier and more effective.

More Online Learning Tips

Featured photo credit: Wes Hicks via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] ResearchGate: Impact of Class Atmosphere on the Quality of Learning (QoL)
[2] The NightingGale Angeles Institue Blog: Benefits of Group Study

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Leon Ho

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Last Updated on August 11, 2021

23 Killer Sites for Free Online Education Anyone Can Use

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23 Killer Sites for Free Online Education Anyone Can Use

Whether you’re five or ninety five, the internet has a lot to offer. Particularly when the topic is education, the resources on the internet are endless. Best of all, many high quality sites are completely free. From history to coding, excellent, free online education awaits on the following 23 sites.

1. Coursera

Coursera is a website that partners with universities and organizations around the world. This brings a wide variety of topics and perspectives to one searchable database.

Coursera is a powerful tool for free online education and includes courses from many top universities, museums and trusts. This gives the site an extremely wide range of in-depth courses.

Coursera is extremely useful if you’re looking to study many different topics, or want courses from different schools and groups. However, the free courses are now quite limited, so you’ll have to

2. Khan Academy

Partnering with many post secondary schools, Khan Academy offers a useable, well-organized interface. Also curating many courses from around the web, Khan Academy offers impressive depth on many different subjects.

Among the more well-known educational sites, Khan Academy is also incredibly user-friendly, which may make it easier to keep learning goals. If you’re looking for a free online education, you can’t go wrong with Khan Academy.

3. Open Culture Online Courses

If you are struggling to find exactly the material you are looking for, try Open Culture’s listing of free online education courses. The page highlights 1000 lectures, videos, and podcasts from universities around the world.

The site features a lot of material found only on universities’ private sites, all in easy-to-browse categories. This means you can find hundreds of university courses without having to visit and search each university’s site.

Open Culture’s list features courses from England, Australia, Wales, and many state universities around the United States. It’s a very helpful resource for finding many courses in one area of study.

4. Udemy 

Udemy’s free courses are similar in concept to Coursera’s but additionally allows users to build custom courses from lessons.

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Working with many top professors and schools, the site mixes the customizable platform of other sites with a heavy emphasis on top-quality content. This is another site, however, that mixes free and paid content.

5. Lifehack Fast Track Class

Lifehack believes in skills that multiply your time, energy, and overall quality of life.

In this rapidly changing world, traditional education skills just don’t cut it anymore. You can’t afford to take years learning a skill you’ll never really practice. Besides offering some paid courses that will help you become a better self, it offers a list of free courses which aim to train some of the Core Life Multipliers including:

These are cross-functional skills that work across many aspects of life.

6. Academic Earth

Another site with courses from many different schools is Academic Earth. Much like the three sites above, Academic Earth brings together top notch courses from many different sources and focuses on offering a wide variety of subjects.

Academic Earth lists courses by subject and school, so it might be easier to find what you’re looking for.

7. edX

Another great option for free online education is edX. Also bringing together courses from many different schools, the site has impressive, quality information for everyone. edX covers a great range of topics from universities such as Harvard, MIT, and Berkeley, meaning a high-quality, free online education is entirely possible here.

8. Alison

Unlike the previous sites on this list, Alison is a free education site offering certification in some areas. Alison offers courses mainly in business, technology, and health, but also includes language learning courses.

It’s a great option if users need a professional certificate for their learning, as Alison also offers school curriculum courses.

9. iTunesU Free Courses

A very convenient place for free online education is iTunesU, because it integrates seamlessly with your iPod or any app-ready Apple mobile device. On an iPad, iPhone, or iPod touch, users download the iTunesU app.

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Desktop users can access iTunesU on the upper right hand corner of the iTunes Store. iTunesU is also convenient because the store is categorized much like iTunes.

Users can search learning materials in many different ways, including by genre and topic. However, courses are often a mix of free podcasts or videos and paid content.

iTunesU does include courses on a variety of topics, but it does not integrate with Android, Google or Windows mobile devices.

10. Stanford Online

Your hub for all the online offerings from Stanford University, Stanford Online offers self-paced and session-based courses. While Coursera features some courses from Stanford, many classes are only available via other hosts. Some courses require iTunes, but most are completed in your web browser.

Stanford Online is a great site for high-quality courses, though the topics are somewhat limited compared to sites partnered with more than one school. If you’re looking for free courses, make sure to mark the “free” option on the left-hand side.

11. Open Yale Courses

Open Yale Courses echoes Stanford Online, in that it offers only courses from Yale. While the site is similarly limited to topics taught at the school, Open Yale Courses offers a lot of videos of actual campus lectures. The availability of videos makes the site a great option if you’re looking for quality courses but learn better by watching than by reading.

12. UC Berkeley Class Central

Much like the other schools on this list, UC Berkeley has a variety of free online education options. The school has slightly fewer courses than the schools above, but it includes some supplementary lectures, webcasts, and RSS Feeds, making it easy to keep up with the topics you choose.

13. MIT OpenCourseWare

Similarly, MIT offers a variety of free courses. The school has a comparable number of courses to the schools above, and it includes very in-depth course materials on the subjects available. MIT also offers free RSS feeds, a convenient way to continue learning.

14. Carnegie Mellon Open Learning Initiative

Carnegie Mellon’s free online education site is comparable with the other school’s on this list. However, Open Learning Initiative also covers a smaller range of topics, but for the topics that are covered, impressive, in-depth material is available.

15. Codecademy

Codecademy is a website dedicated specifically to teaching coding. Where other coding sites follow an example/practice session workflow, Codecademy includes a live practice window. This means you can practice coding while still viewing the lesson material.

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The courses at Codecademy are well-written and easy to follow, and the website is organized very nicely. Codecademy features a centralized dashboard where you can monitor your progress, and it organizes lessons into complete modules. This lets you learn an entire language without needing to pick the next course manually.

16. Code

Code is another website focused on coding and app writing. A site with high-quality courses, Code also features learning options for kids.

In addition to kid-friendly courses, Code offers free online education classes on a wide variety of technology topics. These classes include app writing, robotics, and Javascript.

Most of the courses are also geared in a such a way that they can be useful in a classroom setting. This makes Code a great resource for harder to find coding topics, as well as various learning settings.

17. University of Oxford Podcasts

The University of Oxford features many different podcasts. Most are public lecture series or lectures from visiting professors, with several different recordings available.

The advantage to this particular site is that podcasts are organized into series, making it easy to subscribe to multiple lectures on one topic. This is another great site for thoroughly in-depth lectures.

18. BBC Podcasts

For the more casual learner, the BBC offers a wide variety of podcasts on many different topics. Most podcasts are updated weekly and focus on everything from finance, to sports, to current events.

Through the World Service line of podcasts, there are also many in different languages. The focus of these podcasts are less in-depth and theory based, which may be more accessible to the average person.

19. TED-Ed

Another great destination for more general learning and free online education is TED-Ed. From the same people that brought you the all-encompassing, motivational web series comes a site chocked full of educational videos. Most include impressive animation, and all are ten minutes long or less.

Not only is TED-Ed an excellent site for the curious, but it also includes supplemental materials and quizzes on the videos. This makes the site extremely useful in formal education settings, as well as in entertaining ways to brush up on new discoveries and topics.

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20. LessonPaths

LessonPaths is another great tool for those looking for a more usable and convenient way to access learning material. On this site, users create link playlists of their favorite learning materials from other sites. Users then rank these collections, making it easy to find many different high-quality, accessible sources on a given topic.

21. Memrise

Another impressive free online education site offering ease of use and convenience is Memrise. Available both on desktop and as an app, Memrise is a particularly powerful tool if you are studying a language. The site encompasses many other topics as well, though some of the course material is user generated content.

Part of what makes Memrise special is their integration of games into the learning materials, mixing learning with entertainment.

22. National Geographic Kids

The kids site for National Geographic is another site that makes free online education applicable for younger users. For those looking for kid-friendly education, a large variety of games, puzzles, videos and photos keep kids interested on this site.

National Geographic Kids doesn’t organize learning into courses, making materials available by topic and medium instead. This makes National Geographic Kids a good option for those looking for a more casual learning environment.

23. Fun Brain

Fun Brain is another great option for kids looking for free online education, as it focuses on games and fun puzzles. Particularly focused on math and reading, Fun Brain’s game-based approach can be valuable if the child in question struggles to pay attention.

Fun Brain offers rewards and challenges as well, and it is another site aimed at a casual learning experience for kids K-8.

The Bottom Line

With so many amazing free online education resources, everyone has the ability to boost their skills and knowledge. Whether you’re interested in picking up some interesting trivia for your next party, improve your resume with some coding or business skills, or become a more well-rounded person, these resources are perfect for you.

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Featured photo credit: Dai KE via unsplash.com

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