e-Learning is doubling yearly. Classes, e-courses, e-books on how-to and what-to appear by the thousands online weekly. In-person seminars and workshops are limited to location and access. e-Learning allows easy access, creation, and international distribution to a whole new world of experiences — negative and positive.
Avid learners now feel like there is a smorgasbord laid out before them. It’s like having teachers and trainers crowded into your den. Yet, no sooner do you buy one e-learning material, start reading, and another enticement grabs your attention that is suppose to be even better, even grander. The flow of new material never seems to end — a high percentage poorly written.
Online learning is now starting its climb up the product maturity bell curve. This means that buyer’s dollars are voting, demanding, more well thought-out and written material. As an avid on-line reader, I let out a deep sigh of relief and look forward for this next wave to occur across the board.
Studying on a computer screen requires different uses of the mind and eyes. Normally we read in a scanning method when browsing the Net. Now, with studying, reading will require more deliberate and careful. This increases material understanding, comprehension, critical evaluation and practical application.
Adults who have been away from educational studying for awhile, will need to review again the scope of skills needed to study again. Ones they learned back in school. For some just thinking about studying again makes them crawl under the bed covers. Those with less break time since their studying days, the skills will return much quicker. If good study skills were not previously learned, there will be some struggle or frustration that might be experiences while learning the correct methods and creating new habits. For them it will be like creating a cake from scratch instead from a package mix.
Save your printer ink. Don’t print out the material, rely on your notes and your memory. Taking ink-created notes is just as important with e-Learning as in any other type of learning environment. Yes, I did recommend using good old ink and paper. Note taking isn’t just set aside because the learning material is online. Taking handwritten notes is a key element in moving new short-term information into long-term accessibility.
If you would like to have a checkpoint or a measuring stick on what you are retaining, take note taking to the next level. You will want to preview the material, as mentioned next, then begin reading and taking notes. After this, take a break, return, and then type up your notes. While you are typing add information that you remember from the material or what you have learned from other sources. Add whatever is swirling in your mind. This is best way to measure what you have retained and what is still missing. If there is something in your notes that doesn’t make sense, then you will know what you need to reread and start the process again within that smaller scope. You can even ask further in-depth questions (see below).
Review and scan all the material. If the material is large, scan the entire area, then return to one smaller section at a time and chunk it. Read titles, subheadings, and spend a few extra minutes on any diagrams or memory aids. Look for patterns in the material. If the material is well-written you will always discover one or more patterns. Patterns help mind-visual-understanding associations. Is there a quick summary at the end of each chapter? If yes, read this during your preview. Previewing is important whether the new material feels comfortable or is stretching you.
When previewing follow ideas and major concepts more closely rather than words. Let titles and heading provide clues and guidance. If the author is playing cutesy with the headings