E-Learning has been around for a while, but it is becoming more and more popular with the advent of broadband Internet. Today we stream HD video to our computers and even our phone without even thinking about it. I believe that learning companies wanted to do this all along, but bandwidth was holding them back.
Here are some tips that I picked up along the way that is helping me and my students make the most out of E-Learning:
1. Find the right style
There are many different types or styles of E-Learning you can choose from:
- Video Demonstrations
- Book Downloads
- Virtual Classrooms
- Live how to sessions with experts
- Google Searches
- Forum sites and YouTube
The trick is to find the right solution for you. The solution that works the best for me is a mixture of video demonstrations and Book downloads. I learn from watching and doing, but I need the book later for reference.
Many E-learning sites offer free trials, take advantage of that trial and explore what they have to offer, who knows you might just learn something as well.
2. Be prepared
Remember how your teacher in school would always say if you forgot something, “So, you didn’t come ready for class?” Figure out where you are going to be learning, are you going to be learning at work, home, school, a library or the local Starbucks. You need to make sure you are prepared to learn, not to goof off or heaven forbid work. Here are some quick tips:
- Clean your work area.
- Clean your browser, don’t use the Web Browser you have all your bookmarks in, use a different browser. I am weird, I use Safari for personal stuff, Chrome for work and Firefox for learning. Make the default home page for that browser the site you will be taking the training.
- Get a nice notebook and pen/pencil to take notes. I am using an iPad Pro now with the Apple Pencil; it’s fun and searchable with the Penultimate and Evernote apps.
- Print out any material you may need for the class.
- Block out enough time to complete the task.
- Have a clear goal of what you want or need to learn.
- Don’t eat a heavy lunch or dinner before, some of the online lectures are dry, and you need to stay awake.
3. Get good speakers or comfortable headphones
You need good speakers or headphones. I invested in a good set of Bose speakers for my computer, and I love them. If you need to use headphones, make sure you get some that are comfortable and have noise cancellation. Video producers always say that the audio makes the video, you know what they are right.
4. Get two monitors or screens
You need two screens to do this right. One screen for the content the other for the software you are learning. You don’t want to alt-tab back and forth to see what they are doing and compare to what you are doing; it wastes time. Sometimes you can follow along at the same time, other times you need to pause the video to catch up. Hint: Your iPad or second computer can be a second screen as well. Use all the tools you have in creative ways.
5. Preload your software on your computer
Once you decide that you want to learn, or your company decided for you. Get that software loaded the night, day or even week before you start learning. Nothing kills the learning buzz like a 2-3 hour download of software. You will also want to make sure that your web browser is ready and has all the proper plug-ins, so update Flash now. When you start your E-Learning, you will want to sit right down and start.
6. Begin Sunday or Saturday night
If you are using trial software or are using a time-limited trial, start learning on a Sunday or Saturday night. Starting on Sunday gives you next Saturday day and Saturday night to finish; especially if your trial software only gives you seven days to use the software. What I am getting at is make sure you have enough time set aside to take full advantage of the time.
Get that honey do list completely done on Saturday and let everyone know you need to learn, so stay away. If you set the ground rules and get the stuff you need to get done, you won’t be disturbed to take out the trash, or hang up that picture.
7. There’s more than one pond
There are many sites to learn software from, make sure you explore what website and style you like the best. Here are some of my favorites:
- Global eTraining provides a mix of video demonstrations and printed handouts to teach you Autodesk software.
- Lynda.com has been doing e-learning for a long time and has quite a library of different software they including Microsoft, Autodesk, Adobe software to name a few.
- Kelby Media Group Some say they are the king of Adobe software; I tend to believe them. Photography learning is their specialty.
Also, don’t forget to check the website of the software manufacturer. Most of the time you will find free resources and training there.
Finding a method that fits you best may take trial and error, but I am sure that you will find a way that works best for you. Hopefully, these tips will make your E-Training experience enjoyable and productive. Remember today it’s not sufficient to keep current, to truly excel you need to stay ahead.