Tips to Help You Learn Online

To be successful in online learning it is important for you to:

  • Establish a study schedule allocating regular study times through your week
  • Stick to your schedule and keep up with assignments and course work as required
  • Have a quiet place to study, with fewer distractions you can concentrate on your work
  • Establish contact with your teacher from the beginning
  • Regularly communicate with your teacher and fellow learners as much as possible
  • Seek support and assistance whenever you require it
  • Keep a backup copy of all your work in case work is lost inadvertently, through computer problems or viruses
  • Have up-to-date virus protection that is continually updated
  • Be open to this new way of learning and most importantly enjoy the experience!

Making notes

  • Making adequate notes is a necessary adjunct to efficient study and learning online. Think over the following suggestions and improve your note-taking system where needed. Read and listen actively - if possible think before you write - but don't get behind. Be open-minded about points you disagree on. Come back to them and if you still disagree post a question or comment on the course forum or email your tutor.
  • Raise questions during training if appropriate. When studying online questions and comments can be directed to your tutor and other students using the various foura on our Campus or by email.
  • Develop and use a standard method of note-taking including punctuation, abbreviations, margins, etc.
  • Take and keep notes in a large notebook. The only merit to a small notebook is ease of carrying and that is not your main objective. A large notebook allows you to adequately indent and use an outline form.
  • Leave a few spaces blank as you move from one point to the next so that you can fill in additional points later if necessary. Your objective is to take helpful notes, not to save paper.
  • Do not try to copy down everything that is presented to you in our lessons. It is impossible in the first place and unnecessary in the second place because not everything is of equal importance and in some on-line units, you may review and/or redo the units again.
  • There may be some times, however, when it is more important to write than to think. Some courses make extensive use of audiovisual presentations. Listen for cues as to important points, transition from one point to the next, repetition of points for emphasis, changes in voice inflections, enumeration of a series of points, etc.
  • Many tutors attempt to present a few major points and several minor points in a lecture. The rest is explanatory material and samples.
  • Try to see the main points and do not get lost in a barrage of minor points which do not seem related to each other. The relationship is there if you watch for it. Be alert to cues about what your tutor thinks is important.
  • Make your original notes legible enough for your own reading, but use abbreviations of your own invention when possible. The effort required to recopy notes can be better spent in rereading them and thinking about them.
  • Above all ask questions if you're not sure.


You should proofread all your material before submitting it for assessment. Proofreading your material may save you time in not having to resubmit and marks in your final assessment.

Think carefully about the following points:

  • Proofreading is not a natural skill; it is an acquired skill.
  • Cultivate a healthy sense of doubt. If there are types of errors you know you tend to make, double-check for those.
  • Read very slowly. If possible, read out loud. Read one word at a time.
  • Read what is actually on the page, not what you think is there. (This is the most difficult sub-skill to acquire, particularly if you wrote what you are reading).
  • Proofread more than once. If possible, work with someone else.

Most errors in written work are made unconsciously. There are two sources of unconscious error:

1. Faulty information from the kinaesthetic memory. If you have always misspelled a word like accommodate, you will unthinkingly misspell it again, and
2. A split second of inattention. The mind works far faster than the pen or typewriter.

It is the unconscious nature of the work that makes proofreading so difficult. The student who turned in a paper saying, "I like girdle cakes for breakfast" did not have perverted digestion. He thought he had written "griddle cakes" and because that's what he was sure he had written, that's what he "saw" when he proofread. If he had slowed down and read word by word, out loud, he might have caught the error. You have to doubt every word in order to catch every mistake.

Another reason for deliberately slowing down is that when you read normally, you often see only the shells of words - the first and last few letters, perhaps. You "fix your eyes" on the print only three or four times per line or less. You take in the words between your fixation points with your peripheral vision, which gets less accurate the farther it is from the point.

The average reader can only take in six letters accurately with one fixation. This means you have to fix your eyes on almost every word you have written and do it twice in longer words, in order to proofread accurately. You have to look at the word, not slide over it.

In proofreading, you can take nothing for granted, because unconscious mistakes are so easy to make. It helps to read out loud, because:

  • you are forced to slow down and
  • you hear what you are reading as well as seeing it, so you are using two senses.

It is often possible to hear a mistake, such as an omitted or repeated word that you have not seen. Professional editors proofread as many as ten times. Publishing houses hire teams of readers to work in pairs, out loud. And still, errors occur.

Remember that it is twice as hard to detect mistakes in your own work as in someone else's!

Last modified: Friday, 26 July 2019, 8:15 AM