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Researcher Development


The beauty of online learning is that you can access it whenever you have time and wherever you have access to a computer with internet. You can also tackle the material at your own pace, and easily go back for a refresher. Unfortunately, this incredible ease of access can also make you less likely to engage fully with the material, and you end up not getting the most out of it. We've put together the following set of tips to help you get more out of your online learning.

1. Set aside time

It's crucial to treat online learning as a proper course in the same way you would a face-to-face training event. This means setting aside time to focus exclusively on the online course, rather than just taking a look while you eat your lunch, for example. You also need to allocate a realistic amount of time to go through the materials; don't just fit it in as and when you have a spare minute.

2. Find a suitable working environment

You need to be able to concentrate fully on the materials, so try to find a quiet spot away from potential interruptions by others, and don't allow yourself to be distracted; turn off phone and email notifications, and consider using a plugin to block yourself from being able to procrastinate on the internet.

If you can't use a quiet area, wear headphones: these will block out distracting noise, indicate to others that you are busy, and allow you to listen to any audio included in the course without disturbing others yourself.

3. Complete the course over multiple short sessions

You might find it best to tackle short courses such as the Skills Analysis Survey in one go, but others such as the Presentation Skills Toolkit might be better compelted over the course of a few shorter sessions; another benefit of online learning.

Plan at the start of a session how much you're going to do and don't be too ambitious. Your attention will then be on the material rather than on trying to plough through as much content as possible. All of our online courses are presented in bite-sized sections, making it easy to plan which and how many of these to cover in a session.

Then schedule future dates into your diary so that you don't forget to complete the course, or leave it so long that you forget the foundations.

4. Engage fully with the material

Most online courses include activities for you to do. These are included for a reason, and are an integral part of completing the online course, so do actually do them! Some will require you to do something over an extended period of time, but this should fit in nicely if you are completing the course over multiple sessions.

There's no point learning new skills unless you put them into practice, and you will forget them without use, so try to apply any new ideas or skills you pick up as soon as possible. It can be a good idea to write physical notes as you work through the material, in particular identifying any actions you want to take.