DEV Community

Cover image for Getting the most out of Online Learning
Matthew Rungwe
Matthew Rungwe

Posted on • Originally published at

Getting the most out of Online Learning

Are you planning to start learning online? Are you busy with an online course already? Do you feel like you are not keeping up? Are you just researching how online learning works? If you answered yes to any of these questions? If so, that's great. In this article, we will be sharing some tips that can help you get the most out of online learning.

Anyone who has taken an online course can testify. Without a solid plan, it's easy to lose track of your online studies.

Table of Contents

  1. What it means to be an online student
  2. Create a learning plan
  3. Give yourself a reasonable deadline
  4. Pace yourself
  5. Take breaks
  6. Improve your time management
  7. Take down notes
  8. Go the extra mile
  9. Collaborate
  10. Leverage your network

What does it mean to be an online student

Online learning is just like traditional learning. The only difference is that you are going to be more accountable for how you complete the course.

Treat your online learning as your would for traditional learning. Show up and be willing to put in the work. Don't just create a plan. Follow through with it. Most of these courses are going to be purchased so, don't let it slip away.

Create a learning plan

The first step to getting the most out of online learning is creating a learning plan. Picture the learning plan as your road map for the journey that you are about to embark on. As you make your learning plan, you will get a high-level overview of the entire course and your expectations.

Don't just stop there. Check in with your plan to see if you are still on track from time to time. Hold yourself accountable because it is up to you to do everything in good time.

I go into a little more detail in a how to create Your Learning Plan article on Hashnode.

Give yourself a reasonable deadline

Deadlines are important. Give yourself enough time to learn, understand and practice what you have learned. As much as completing the course is crucial, understanding what you have learnt is crucial. If you give yourself too little time, your learning experience gets overwhelming. If you give yourself more than enough time, you would have forgotten the first half of the content you learned by the time you finish.

When you start the course, appreciate the advice on how long it might take to complete it. Use visual cues to remind you when you need to complete the course. Use the calendar, stickers or board to make sure you keep it in mind.

Pace yourself

Create a learning pace for yourself. Intentionally dedicate time for your learning and do this repeatedly so you may have a routine. In the same way, create an environment where you complete your work. These changes might seem minor but, they can train your mind. You will become more focused during a specific time or area.

Pay attention to your productivity and what's working for you. Do research and experiment with different times or working environments.

Take breaks

Taking breaks is one strategy I learnt the hard way because it is very crucial. Allow your mind to rest and refocus.

Taking breaks comes with some benefits that include:

  • helps you to stay focused and improves your memory retention.
  • relieving and reducing harmful stress levels.
  • re-boosting your energy when you feel depleted and tired.
  • improving your performance and creativity by giving yourself enough time to think of new ideas and approaches.
  • improving your health by positively impacting the immune system, reducing the risk of heart diseases, inflammation, posture and other conditions.

Techniques such as Podomoro have proven to help people improve their productivity while being excited and well engaged in what they are doing. Also, take advantage of the weekends and holidays to give your body and your mind some time to rest.

Improve your time management

Online learning paints a big picture portraying the importance of time management. How you manage your time is extremely crucial so, manage your time wisely. Cut down on some activities and remove distractions. Give yourself enough time to complete different tasks during the day. Block your time with a detailed to-do list. Plan the time to attend to your emails and your messages. Employ different apps or tools like calendars and reminders to help you keep track of your time. Add other activities like exercising to help you stay focused and stay healthy.

Take down notes

Notes are a great way to take down a good summary of what you are learning. They will give you a chance to slow down and pay attention to the details. As you take the notes, you will also be growing in your understanding of the concepts and ideas.

You can use:

  • a notebook,
  • Microsoft Word,
  • Google Docs,
  • or audio recordings.

Keeping track of your notes does not have to be restricted to the traditional way only. Do some research yourself and find applications that work for you.

Go the extra mile

We have all heard at some point in our lives, "Practice makes perfect." Well, spoiler, practice does make you better. Don't confine yourself to the learning material that you have. Practice with the new skills that you have learned. Don't just copy the exercises but, make a few changes of your own and experiment with different concepts. Deep dive into the skills you are learning by researching more and asking questions about them because the one to benefit from all this will be you. Always be willing to go the extra mile in your learning.


While working alone is good, working with others is better. When working with others, you can learn more as everyone has something different to bring to the table.

Here are some other benefits of working with others:

  • you will get the platform to help others understand and put your knowledge into practice.
  • motivating each other and holding each other accountable in your progress.
  • sharing diverse resources and opportunities.
  • developing your soft skills like effective communication and teamwork.

Leverage your network

The community that you are in during your learning is usually your closest network. There is a possibility that a lot of the online courses out there are being taken by professionals. Some of these professionals may include entrepreneurs and even CEOs. Showcase your skills as you are learning because someone might have an interest in your work.

Ask questions from those who have a lot more experience than you have. Be willing to learn more than what you are already learning but, make sure it does not fall too far to be a distraction. Take advantage of your community and grow your network.

These strategies are just a few to help you work towards getting the most out of online courses. This is your future, your time, your effort and your finances on the line. Make the most out of every opportunity you get because it could be the beginning of something great.

Still here? Thank you for reading. Please, let me know about your thoughts on this article in the comments or your appreciation in any way.

Discussion (0)