8 Tips For Getting The Most Out of Taking An Online Class
I recently completed an intensive vegan desserts course. I am usually the instructor but this time I was the student. I think online learning is one of the best ways to learn. Online learning provides you with the instruction and videos you can view over and over until you understand it. In my desserts course, I viewed some of the videos at least ten times before attempting to make a dessert. This is the greatest advantage of taking an online class, plus you can take it in your pajamas, early in the morning or late at night. I have taken online courses on cosmetic chemistry and business and recently I’ve been taking culinary courses. This is the first time I truly allowed the time I needed to take a class and experience the teachings in full. I took full advantage of being active in the class. The results were amazing to me. I learned better, the journey was enjoyable, I pushed through the struggles and I can make delicious and beautiful desserts. I am satisfied. I know I did the very best I could. From my student perspective here are my tips for getting the most out of taking an online class.
1. The Class Aligns With You and You Have Time To Take It
Does this class support how you like to learn? Does the class have videos to teach you or is it only text material? Can you make time in your life to take this class right now? Do you still have access to the class after the session has completed? If so, what is the fee? Many charge a monthly continual access fee. These are questions you need to find out from the class. Fully understand the class you are taking before you sign up for it.
My Note: I wanted to take a professional culinary vegan desserts course. I wanted excellent instruction and to learn techniques followed up with text and videos to show me how to make desserts. I wanted a course with a class Facebook Group. I made sure I could complete the course in the time frame given and I had space in my life to fit it in. This is always a challenge for me as I run a business and a household and I love being and doing things with my hubby, daughters, grandchildren, family and friends.
2. Read Emails and Save Into A Folder
Read the emails containing the instructions for taking the class. Create a folder in your email and save the class emails in the folder for easy access to the information you need. If you don’t understand anything send an email or call and ask your questions.
My Note: I always create a folder and label it once I sign up for a class. When I receive a confirmation email and other emails I read the email and then save it in the folder. There is usually one email that contains crucial information and links. It is easy to find this email in the designated folder when I need to refer to the links.
3. Schedule Class Time and Goals
Create a vision in your mind on completing the class and holding the certificate in your hand. Have an overview of the entire class and know all that is required of you to finish the class. If you need equipment for the class, only get what you know you need for sure or wait until the tasks. Much time is spent searching out equipment and money is wasted. You end up not using the equipment and at the end of the class, you realize you rather have a different tool. Set a schedule on your calendar and block out time for taking your online class and schedule when you will complete tasks in the class. You can always adjust your schedule after you have a realistic sense of how long it will take you to do the class tasks. Schedule an ending date and try to be complete with the tasks early, before the class ends. You have to motivate yourself and make yourself go and study. Sometimes you have to say “no” to others and events and value your studies. Tell your roommate, your family members, not to bother and interrupt you while you are taking your class. Put a sign up, “Do Not Disturb” or “Pastry Chef School In Session” or whatever subject you are studying to get the point across that you are in school.
My Note: I reviewed the course syllabus and I didn’t think it would take me long to complete the tasks and finish the course. Once I started reading the units, making the desserts and taking the tests, I was surprised how long it took me to do a dessert task. Most times it took 6-8 hours for each task from start to finish, longer than I had planned.
4. Create A Clear and Desirable Workspace
Clear out an area to take your class. Even if it’s a corner of a room, clear out extra stuff and make it easy and enjoyable for you to go and take your online class. Light a candle, make a cup of tea, cut up some fruit and create a space to support studying. Make it an enjoyable experience.
My Note: One of my class tasks was to clear out and organize my refrigerator, pantry and countertop before beginning the dessert course. I had to take photos of the organization and submit the photos. This really helped me to have order and clarity of mind. It made the tasks more enjoyable as I had organized access to the ingredients and to make the desserts.
5. Participate and Interact
If there is a Facebook Group or other online community, participate in it! Introduce yourself, comment, post photos, talk to your classmates and be part of the community.
If your instructor sends a check-in email to you, respond to her email. If you are having trouble in the class, ask for help from your classmates and the instructor.
My Note: This is the first time I interacted a lot in the course and in our Facebook Group. I found it highly valuable. I connected with other classmates and learned a lot from them. It helped me with my tasks.
6. Do Your Own Research
A class does not contain everything you want to know. Take time to further research a topic you are studying to understand it better. Get books from the library, go to a bookstore, Google what you want to learn and watch YouTube videos. It is easy to loose focus and get distracted with all the things we can do and make and let our imagination take over. We can spend a lot of time on these thoughts and take valuable time away from our class time. Write down and save these ideas for when you are done with the course.
My Note: Every topic of dessert opened new doors for me and I wanted to learn more. I wanted to know the history of the dessert and how it was traditionally made. This helped me a lot to research the topics I had questions on and have a better understanding of that dessert.
7. Challenge Yourself and Enjoy The Journey
Compete with yourself and do the best you can. Look to your classmates as inspiration, not competition. Learn from them. Everyone is on different levels. A few students will do exceptional work. Don’t compare yourself to them. If you are not one of those students challenge yourself and learn what you need to learn. Be content with your results. Enjoy the experience and journey you are on. Focus on the task you are currently on and don’t look too far ahead. Looking far ahead can easily overwhelm you. Since you created a timeline on your calendar, every now and then, do a check-in to see where you are at and then direct your focus back to the task you are on. Enjoy the learning of the task.
My Note: I am not one of those students that do exceptional work. I do great work and I work hard at it. This time since I devoted a lot of my time to the tasks and did my very best, I didn’t compare myself to other students. I didn’t feel my desserts were “not good enough” because someone else’s dessert looked so much better. The students always inspired me and their creative desserts were a work of art.
8. Celebrate Completing Your Online Class
Take time to reflect on the class and all that you did to complete the online class. It takes focus, diligence and determination to complete an online class. Smile and say, “Yes, I did it!” Do something for you to celebrate this milestone, all you accomplished and the struggles you pushed yourself through.
My Note: It is easy for me to move on to other things after I complete a class and not process the intensive accomplishment. This time, I took time to process and reflect on all I did to accomplish and complete my Desserts Course. I looked at all the tasks I completed. I visualized how far I have come and what I learned. I cleared out, cleaned up and put things back in order that got out of whack from me spending so much time on the course. My celebration; a gourmet vegan dinner and of course dessert.
Joan Morais is a natural cosmetic formulator, instructor, author and the owner of Joan Morais Naturals. Joan assists product makers on how to make high quality, stable and effective natural body, hair and skin care products for personal use and a product making business.