Thursday, March 18, 2010

3 Classic Study Strategies that Speed Online Learning

If you want to get some perspective about the power of computers as teaching machines, think about Socrates. That’s right – Socrates, the dude who did himself in by drinking hemlock juice. History tells us that every day, Athenian students would gather in a circle around Socrates while he gave long talks and engaged them in spirited conversations.

That’s a pretty inefficient way to learn. Today, we can fire up our computers and review page after page of information, all presented in an engaging, interactive format. If Socrates saw the teaching power of computers, he would probably drop his toga and run for the nearest Best Buy to get one of his own.

Yes, computers are powerful learning tools. But the problem is, they are also capable of quickly delivering vast quantities of information - more information than most people can easily absorb. If you’ve ever had the feeling that it’s challenging to shuttle all that information from your computer screen into your cerebral cortex, these classic learning strategies can help.

  1. Strategy one: Take notes. Sounds pretty unexciting, right? But the fact is, taking notes on paper while you are studying online is a highly effective way to internalize information. And there is more to it than simply writing down facts so you can study them later on. When you write down information, you remember more of it. Try it – it works.

  2. Strategy two: Talk to people about what you are learning. Old Socrates knew the power of dialogue as a learning tool. When you talk stuff over, you remember more of it. And it still works today. So if you’re taking say, an online accounting course, get in the habit of saying to a friend, “Hey, let me tell you what I learned today.” (You might need to get new friends every week or two, but you’re learning, right?)

  3. Strategy three: Start using your knowledge as soon as you can. If you’re taking an online college statistics course, say, start analyzing companies right away – or find a way to start using your new analytical chops on the job. One of the most powerful ways to internalize concepts is to start using them. As soon as information becomes practical, not theoretical, it sticks in your mind.

And another strategy for better online learning . . .

Make sure to select online courses that have been developed by organizations like Straighterline, that deliver information in an engaging, interactive format. It takes great course developers to create great online college courses – and you’ll find them here.

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