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Getting Smarter through Language

How to Become a More Effective Online Learner | Page 3

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Evaluate Your Goals

People are more effective when they have clear goals in mind. When you do, you know what steps you need to take to accomplish your goals. As a result, you are more motivated to keep doing what you need to do.


Get a piece of paper and write down your short-term and long-term goals. List as many as you can think of no matter how trivial they may seem. Also list the resources you need to accomplish those goals.

You may use the PDF document you were instructed to print on the previous page.

Short-term goals are those that you want to accomplish soon after completing your course or courses.

Long-term goals are those you want to accomplish later but that depend on completing your course or courses.

List the resources you need to reach each of those goals. These resources could be physical, financial, emotional, and so on.

If you are unsure about the resources required to achieve a particular goal, do some research (for example, by asking someone who has reached your goal, contacting an institution for information, and so on).

Create the Right Mindset for Learning

Take a few minutes thinking about your mindset or your attitude about learning in general and about learning online.

Reflect on your mindset

Our attitudes color our perceptions. It is easier to engage in an activity we feel positively toward than in one that we believe is boring, too difficult for us, a waste of time, “not really for me,” and so on.

  • What is your attitude toward learning in general?
  • What is your attitude toward learning online?

If you constantly complain about having to learn online, you only reinforce your negative attitudes.

Think about it: Each time you have look something up on the internet and learn new information, you are learning online.

  • What are things you do not mind learning online? How is that different from learning information in a course?
  • Are you a complainer? If so, does it stop you from doing what you need to do? Or do you complain first but eventually get it all done?
  • How can you make online learning more enjoyable?

If you approach learning with a positive attitude, you are more likely to find ways to do it more effectively. In fact, you will be more effective at learning, period. You will be likely to find solutions to obstacles that come up whether you are learning in an online or classroom-based setting.

Yes, this is an oversimplification as the psychology of learning is very complex. The point is, if you have no negative attitudes toward, say, looking up and learning a recipe online, but you “hate online courses,” perhaps the problem is your attitude toward structured learning itself rather than toward learning that happens to be online.

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