The Perilous Pitfalls Of Online Learning (And How To Avoid Them)

Sep 15, 2017 by

The old saying says that you learn something every day, and in the information age it’s virtually impossible not to learn on a daily basis. It’s curious, then, in an age in which knowledge is imparted and imbibed so freely that there persists a stigma that borders on snobbery when it comes to where and how we receive our education. In the 21st century we’re enveloped in a cloud of digital information that can be condensed and drip fed to us through tiny plastic rectangles in our pockets. In this technological climate it’s only a matter of time until this availability revolutionises the way that future generations are educated.

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Online learning has grown exponentially in recent years, but it is not without its caveats. Like its campus led counterpart, online learning requires a set of skills upon which students have to lean particularly hard in lieu of the infrastructure afforded by a  university while presenting a very different set of challenges.

Quality vs Quantity

Being lucky enough to live in an age where an online masters in engineering management can be achieved without leaving the home is an attractive prospect but it can also be misleading. The sheer scope and availability of online courses could easily believe one to believe that they could accomplish just about anything. The trouble is that students need the skills to determine the quality of their chosen courses. Many online courses are completely legitimate and carry academic prestige, some just have a really flashy website. It’s important for prospective students to know what to look for in an online course.

Home is rarely where the work is

The image of learning from the comfort of your own home is a seductive one. The idea of idly researching over a leisurely cup of coffee while your campus bound counterparts endure traffic jams and rain is very appealing but like anything worth having, an online qualification isn’t as easy as all that. Rarely are we at our most productive at home. The many domestic comforts and destructions can seriously derail our learning. If you’re able to get to a municipal library this is a much more conducive environment to work and study.

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Time management is everything

When your first weekly task list comes through it can be a daunting experience. You may look at it and wonder how you’ll ever get it all done, especially if you’re juggling your learning with work and family commitments. As in most things, failing to prepare is preparing to fail and only through stringent planning and time management can you hope to stay afloat. Since you don’t have a tutor standing over you, you’re going to have to impose some self discipline.

Set yourself a schedule that breaks the avalanche of tasks into smaller and more manageable chunks. Assign yourself enough time to be realistic without allowing yourself enough time to be distracted. Afford yourself a break every now and then (50-90 minutes work best) to avoid burnout. You should also factor in periods of reflection and proofing as proofing your work on the fly rarely results in the best workmanship.

There’s a lot of talk about whether online learning is inherently good or bad, but if you’re careful to avoid the inherent pitfalls of online learning, any course is as good as what you make of it.

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