Dr Liz Hardy believes that e-learning is not as scary as it might look to new students.

She proves that e-learning’s bark is worse than its bite in her new book, E-learning 101. This short, interactive guide to online study presents practical e-learning solutions in an unusual package. Smiling dogs appear on most pages, helping the online learner to smile, relax, and engage with simple and accessible e-learning strategies.

E-learningE-learning 101 shows new students that e-learning is not as daunting as it seems – and can even be fun!

Dr Hardy is an e-learning professional who’s helped around 3,000 online students in 21 papers, from beginners to graduates.

“In my work with online learners, I discovered something surprising,” Dr Hardy says. “Although each online student is an individual, they often struggle with similar issues, such as procrastination, time management, motivation and loneliness.

E-learning 101 solves these stressful problems quickly – and it’s the friendliest online study guide out there”.

The book is presented as 6 short lessons. Each lesson defines a common e-learning problem, and then walks new students through a series of steps to solve it. Interactive worksheets are included with every lesson, empowering online students to fix their e-learning problems right then and there.

The lessons are short, but cover the biggest issues in learning online:

• E-learning technology
• Finding more time to study
• Self-motivation
• Procrastination cures
• How to submit assignments on time, and
• Avoiding loneliness when learning online.

This online study guide inspires the worried online student to face e-learning with confidence, replacing feelings of anxiety with action and achievement.

Here’s an extract from the chapter that helps online students deal with loneliness and feelings of isolation when e-learning…

Lesson 6 – Is there anyone out there? 

Will e-learning make you feel like the last person left on earth? Will you have to adopt 25 cats so you don’t die of loneliness while you study?

Well, that’s mostly up to you.

When you learn online, you may never meet your tutor or fellow students in the flesh. You won’t get chatting after a lecture and go for coffee or a beer. You can’t, because face to face contact is largely replaced by online communication.

But a lack of flesh-and-blood contact doesn’t mean you have to study in a vacuum, sealed off from the world in a silent bubble. You may not be able to see or hear the other people in your course, but that doesn’t mean you’re alone.

Finding your own support network

It’s up to you to set up your own support network. This is not as hard as it sounds. You already connect in ways that don’t involve physically standing in the same room as the other person.

Think about it. You communicate without using all your senses in one way or another every day, by:

  • Phone
  • Email
  • Instant Messaging
  • Facebook
  • Texting
  • Internet forums
  • And probably several more ways…

The people in your course aren’t in a classroom with you, it’s true. But they’re real people. They do exist. And there are other forms of invisible support out there, too. The challenge here is to go search them out.

Let’s look at some ways of actively growing your own support network.

How to avoid e-learning isolation 

Step 1:  What are your communication options?

At the beginning of your course, you’ll likely get an information pack which tells you everything you need to know. It probably covers how to communicate with everyone connected with the course: your fellow students, the admin people, the IT Help Desk, Student Support, your tutor, and the course co-ordinator.

Your facilitator might have a direct dial number you can call. There may be online instructions about the best channels for talking about the course material, asking questions, or solving particular kinds of problems.

There will be avenues of communication open to you. You simply need to find out what they are. 

Step 2:  Try out the discussion boards

When you’ve never used them, the online forums or discussion boards can seem intimidating. They’re an invitation to look stupid in public, surely. Because what should you say? What if your comment is “wrong”? What if your message displays oddly?

These fears are normal. Everyone else in your course is sitting in front of their computers, wondering what to say, too. But in an online environment no-one can see you, remember? You’ll probably never physically meet many of the people in your course. How can it hurt to take the first step?

Many online courses involve you taking part in online discussions. If there’s a discussion board section in your Learning Management System, take the lead and get the conversation going.

Saying “hello” in an online environment is not the scariest thing you’ll ever do. Not even close.

When you’ve made your friendly introductory comment, you just need to be patient, and wait for someone to respond. It might take just minutes, or several days. Your fellow learners may be busy, or they may just be scared. Or both.

You can’t physically see your fellow students, but you’re all sitting in the same boat. There’s no rule that says you can’t talk to each other. 

e-learningDr Liz Hardy is the owner of ElearningTrainer.com and the author of E-learning 101, the friendliest online study guide around. Dr Hardy takes a unique approach to online learning. Blending simple e-learning strategies with a little humour and pictures of friendly dogs, she presents accessible e-learning advice that works.

To read more about E-learning 101, go to e-LearningTrainer.com

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