If you are considering a change in career, learning a new skill, or just broadening your knowledge, an online course may be the perfect option for you. There are so many benefits to this type of learning, and many ways in which the knowledge and skills that you gain can be used in the future. Distance learning is very common, and many institutions are offering online courses, so there are plenty to choose from, with different qualification levels, lengths, and teaching methods available. Here are a couple of questions to ask yourself if you are thinking of starting an online course.
What are the benefits of studying online?
There is a myriad of benefits to distance learning. One of the main ones is that is can save a lot of money in lots of different areas. Being a student can be expensive, as costs include accommodation, travel, socializing, materials, and other living costs. When you study online, many of these are reduced or even removed completely. You will not have to commute, which saves you money on gas or transport, and is also great for the planet. If you already live at home, you do not need to worry about renting a place on or near campus, which can be incredibly expensive.
Furthermore, small costs like buying food and drinks on campus can add up over time, and by studying from home, you will not need to run out and buy them every day. Planning your meals not only saves you money in the long run, but also time, as you can ensure that you have everything you need to keep yourself healthy and sated. Many online courses provide study materials or at least offer discounts on items such as textbooks. It is worth asking this when you enroll, as you may be eligible for plenty of student discounts that can help you out.
Another benefit is the ability to work at your own pace, and in your own home. This makes learning more comfortable, as you can tailor your learning experience to you. Many people may find a lecture or classroom setting stressful and intimidated, so learning from home is a great alternative. You can work and learn at your own pace, allowing you to absorb information better, and some lectures and classes may even be uploaded online, for you to look back on as many times as you need to. Working from home may also suit those who have families or be unable to travel frequently.
What is more, you are not confined to what your local college or institution teaches. When studying online, you have much more access to a wider range of courses, even internationally! This means that you can get the degree you have always wanted, right from the comfort of your home.
What kind of course?
There is a plethora of options when it comes to choosing a subject and course type. A masters in social work is a wonderfully rewarding choice, and you do not need a previous degree in social work to complete it. The master’s in social work is designed for working professionals who want to study while keeping the rest of their lives going. If you have a job, family, or other commitments, it may feel impossible to study simultaneously; however, the master’s in social work are made for people like you, to study online in your own time.
The master’s in social work are part-time, which means you will have plenty of time and work flexibly around your life. It would be best if you had a bachelor’s degree, but it does not have to be related to social work. Another great thing about online courses is that they often build upon skills you already have through previous experiences or qualifications. With the master’s in social work, there is also the option to waive the GRE test, which can again save you money and time.
Where will you study?
When you are working or studying from home, it is important to have a good set up. It will differ for every individual, but you can do a few basic things to get your workspace ready and ensure that you are not distracted or uncomfortable. Clearing your desk or table will help keep you organized and stop you from losing paper or notes. Having a clean space to work in prevents distractions and allows you to focus on your tasks. Working near a window is great for fresh air and natural light, as they can both help your mood and your health.
Whilst it may be tempted to work from the couch or your bed, it is not only bad for your posture but may make it more difficult to focus on your work. Try changing locations, even if it is just to a different room, and seeing how this impacts your productivity. Do not bring your work into bed with you! If you cannot work from home or if you want a change of location, you may be able to study from a café or library. It is important to make sure your chosen location is appropriate for the level of studying you are going to do.
The master’s in social work combine online learning with in-person teaching and placements, a great mixture of learning methods. It means you can work and study from home as much as possible but go out and meet new people and have hands-on experiences when you need to. When thinking of a course to study, it is important to look at the teaching methods, and the locations you may need to travel to.
Do you need any accessories?
Extra items and accessories may also help make your learning experience more comfortable and productive. As working and studying from home is very common, there are plenty of items you get to buy or use to enhance your study. Investing in an ergonomic chair will help your posture, which will help prevent aches and pains if you are sitting at a desk all day. Looking after your body and posture will also be beneficial for you in later life and in the short term.
You could also get a laptop stand. This will ease the strain on your neck, as it puts your screen at eye level so that you are not constantly looking down. Your head is very heavy, and your neck can become sore from holding it at a downwards angle. Furthermore, blue light from your devices can even impact your sleep, so you may be able to buy some glasses with blue light filters. Check the settings on your laptop too, as it may have the filter option already built it.
A standing desk is another option to help your posture, as there has been some research into how sitting down for long periods may be bad for you. Your course or institution may be able to provide you with some of these accessories, so it is worth asking when you begin, as you may not be the only one wondering. If you find yourself getting easily distracted, why not try using some noise-reducing headphones? You may like listening to music as you study or need to hear a lecture clearly. Headphones will block out surrounding sounds, allowing you to focus on the information. They will also prevent everyone else around you from hearing what you are learning, as other may be working or learning from home.
How will you schedule your day?
Scheduling your day is vital to keep on track of your commitments. This is especially important when studying online and balancing the course with your existing commitments. When you study in person, you tend to have a more concrete schedule, as you have to leave the house and be in different places at different times. Planning your day is just as crucial when working from home. You may not have to commute or travel to other classes and locations, but you need to fit in time to study, break food, and enjoy leisure. This balance is just as important as it would be if you were studying in-person.
Breaks are critical for your physical and mental health. Make sure you take them frequently to help refresh your mind and move your body. You may watch an episode of your favorite show, do some stretches, or go for a walk. There are plenty of different ways that you can maximize your breaks to make them beneficial to you. Fresh air and exercise are great ways to get the blood pumping around your body, especially if you have been sitting and concentrating for a long time. Getting the oxygen into your brain will help improve your focus and make studying more productive when you return to it.
Food and drink are other elements of your day that you will need to plan. It may be tempting to snack all day, especially if the fridge is just right there, but eating healthily and drinking plenty of water will help your brain and body function. Foods that are good for your brain function include nuts and seeds, leafy green vegetables, oily fish, and a lot of water. Keep hydrated by having a reusable water bottle on hand- you can even set reminders on your phone to make sure you frequently drink enough water.
Whether you are completing a master’s in social work or learning a new language, planning your day will make your learning more productive and help prevent you from feeling overwhelmed. Small changes like new stationary or making to-do lists can help organize your thoughts, break down tasks, and make them seem more manageable.
What kind of learner are you?
Did you know that there are many different types of learners? Working out which one you are will help to make your learning more efficient and productive, allowing your brain to absorb information in a way that works best for you. You can then tailor your study and revision to work best for you. This may involve drawing diagrams, using colors, videos, podcasts or setting up experiments, all of which can make learning much more interesting.
Learning types include visual, auditory, and kinesthetic.
Visual learners: prefer using visual stimuli and aids to take in information. This can include videos, images, graphs, and written instructions.
Auditory learners: learn best when information is heard, through lectures, music, or sounds, and speaking or reading out loud to reinforce information.
Kinesthetic learners: learn best through physically doing things, so practical experiments, touching or handling things and being able to act out information is the way they absorb it best.
These are just a few of the different learning types, and you may find that you are a mixture. Once you have worked this out, you can study in a way that compliments your learning style, rather than trying to force information into your brain! Different courses may teach in different ways or combine learning methods to cater to their students. You may be able to find out more information about this in the prospectus or website, or you can present the information to yourself in the way in which you find most beneficial.
Online learning is a fantastic way to gain access to education whilst still maintaining your daily commitments. Working at your own pace and fit lessons around your schedule will give you brilliant life skills such as time management and self-motivation, which employers look upon favourably. Of course, the actual course content is important information to take in and use, but the soft skills you learn as an online student are transferrable and can be used in a wide range of situations. Studying a master’s in social work is a brilliant way to gain new skills and even change your career path. The course’s flexibility makes it perfect for a huge range of people, and online courses are great for people of any age and in many different locations!