Have you signed in for an e-course recently or have been racking your brain whether you should, while writing a pro´s- con´s list? It was exactly the same when I first signed in to an online class, and I was really excited not knowing what will happen and what the benefits really are. Today, round about ten courses later over a time period of two years, a lot of people keep asking me if they should sign in to an e-course and the answer is: I can’t tell you if it is the right thing for you, but what I do know after the experiences there are a few questions you have to answer yourself to make sure your course is a success and your investment both money and time is paying off.
Nowadays there are so many tempting e-courses flying around the internet, often promising the moon and giving you the feeling of FOMO if you don’t sign up to the “limited” spaces left.
Don’t get me wrong, I am a big fan of e-courses and have signed in and completed quite a lot within the last two years. But with time I have learned to get a measure whether the topic of the course is helpful to a problem or question that you are dealing with, or if the course is just *nice to be there* meaning you just want to be part of that specific group which is an absolute adequate reason, I did that too and can say that all courses I signed in had a great benefit for various reasons and I felt inspired and motivated after completing them.
But before getting deeper into how you make your sign-in successful, let`s shortly define what we are talking about in short. An e-course is an online course that provides you with the teaching materials via email or delivered in several online sections or modules you can log on to over a certain time or even for a life time. It is self-paced and students can complete the course requirements delivered by the author completely online. If wished for or necessary, the students can communicate with the author using live chats, emails, group discussions or group boards.
E-courses have without doubt a lot of advantages. Beginning with a wide range of topics that you can choose from which, however, can also be a disadvantage but we will get to that shortly.
Another reason why you might have considered signing in for an ecourse is the time factor. Your scheduling and learning is absolutely free and flexible. Entirely up to you and the material can’t get lost nor can it be in danger of getting showered by your coffee. You can study the course from everywhere and are not bound to a fixed location or have to attend a classroom to achieve your goals. It is also a great chance to have a lot of virtual conversations and connections to people from all over the world.
Sounds fantastic, doesn’t it. But there are a few things you have to consider to make it a success and be able to implement all the newly learned magic to your life or job.
The first and most important question you should ask yourself before signing in is
Why do you want to sign in? In what field would you like to gain knowledge? Do you need a lift up or inspirational support or would like to refine a skill?
Before deciding on a course write down what your main question or area of interest is. Try to analyze where you are today and where the course could take you. What benefit does it give you for your job or a field of interest that might be your job one day?
When it turns out in the end the course would only be for fun and entertainment then it of course totally fine and understandable because we all need a little bit of entertainment and inspirational support, but then consider question number two
How much time have you got?
The only thing that could have endangered the success of my e-courses or stopped me would have been bad time management. I am guilty of underestimating the time investment that each e-course requires and planning in enough time is essential for your success with the course. Try to be realistic.
Write down what your typical day looks like. How much time can you give to the course?
If you would like to work on it after an exhausting day at work or after entertaining your children all day long, try to be realistic with yourself. Are you lark or owl? Maybe just give yourself a rest in the evening and get up an hour earlier in the morning and use the fresh beginning of a new day and the silence to dig into your studies.
How easy is it for you to communicate?
Are you an expert communicator? Do you like to take part in online discussions are you an entertaining guest at twitter parties and don’t mind whats app group texts? You notify your community about your status and writing a witty one liner is not a big deal? Congratulations- I am pretty sure you get the maximum benefit out of the chat groups that often go along the course.
In all courses I attended, the e-course author opened a facebook group. The intention of a group is to get connected, share your work, discuss, ask for help or advice on the homework, share your homework and support each other. Quite often the author also offers one or two live sessions during the course.
It is absolutely no problem to go through the course without attending the groups but then again step back to question one, the why.
If one reason for taking the course is inspirational support or exchanging knowledge, then it is the key to your success to be part of a group with like-minded people and it would be advisable to join in the discussions.
It seems very exhausting at times to keep up with all the interaction and trying to give adequate feedback and comments, but bear in mind theres no wrong or right. No teacher standing at the blackboard and giving you numbers for your answer. Just attendees like yourself who will be ever so grateful for a few feedback lines and although you are all spread over the world it gives you the chance to connect and you feel like you are doing that together.
How flexible are you?
If you need solid structures and clear guidance it might be challenging for you. That is not what you get. The course material is usually very detailed and divided into several units and sections. Don’t get me wrong, all material and units I saw were perfectly organized and structured but that is not the point. You can complete the units or skip back. You can leave one out or repeat and no one tells you when to do all that. It is entirely your choice. It is also your choice whether you can handle this self-responsible kind of work.
And the last questions which I think is very important is
Who is the author?
Do you know who wrote the e-course you are planning to sign in? Is this your fangirl moment or have you never heard of the author?
Well then it is about time to do some research. Ask other attendees who completed the course, look at what kind of information you find online. Are there any publications, blogposts or maybe published books?
Are there social media channels you could investigate? Or maybe you’ve been following along for a while and can’t get enough of what the author writes, even a witty twitter one liner makes you want to print it out and hang it up? It is very likely that you have found your teacher then.
This is a very personal decision however it has to be considered carefully. Ask yourself: Is this the person that you chose to achieve your goals, the person who inspires you?