Self-Efficacy And Online Learning: Develop Your Learning Muscles

Train Your Self-Efficacy And Online Learning Skill
Summary: Multitudes of online professional courses are available for anyone who wishes to increase knowledge, enhance professional skills, or improve their quality of life. Yet, many question their ability to be successful in an online course. Tools are valuable only if you know how to use them.

Train Your Self-Efficacy And Online Learning Skill

The high availability of online professional courses can be overwhelming. Many question their ability to be successful in an online course. Some may fear the amount of time needed to complete a course or if they possess the necessary technology skills. Others question their overall ability, so they ask themselves, “Can I even do this?”

Are These Just Excuses, Or Is It Something Else?

Self-efficacy is the belief in one’s own abilities. It is the confidence needed to accomplish whatever tasks you choose to do. When self-efficacy is low, people are unwilling to try new tasks, which in turn affects their ability to grow and develop. A low self-efficacy alters your ability to persist and overcome challenges, so it influences the choices you make.

With easy access to online courses, choosing from the multitudes of options only requires the desire to learn and the belief that you can successfully complete it. Professional online courses provide added skills, increased knowledge, personal development as well as the necessary certificates to improve your chances for promotion or landing a new job. Yet, before beginning a new course, it is important to take stock of your current schedule and responsibilities. It is also necessary to research the course you want to take. Since there are many options, you can determine which type of course best meets your learning style.

Adult Learners

Everyone has a preferred method of learning. Some respond more favorably to visual learning and others prefer to take notes while reading or listening to content. Adult learners have their own unique needs that differ from college students. Adults come to a course with more experience, so experiential content works best. Case studies and hands-on learning provide opportunities for adult learners to utilize their life experiences. So, look for courses designed with an adult learner in mind for optimal learning to occur.

Courses that provide engaging activities help adults learn and acquire new skills. No one wants to take a boring course where the student is passive, just a receptacle of information. Although people have different ideas of what is boring, a course that builds community and offers a variety of learning activities helps to combat boredom.

Adults look for meaning with what they are learning. They want to combine their own experiences, the course content, and their personal/professional goals to achieve optimal learning. Adults also want to connect with the course material so they can use it in practical ways. Therefore, practical activities that include discussions and problem-solving are the best methods for reaching learning goals.

Adults also have more success with online courses when they are designed with opportunities for building community. If instructors and course materials provide activities where adults can work together in small groups, learners begin to feel more connected to the class. They have a sense that “We’re all in this together.” The community helps those who are struggling, so if someone is uncomfortable with the technology, another student can offer assistance.

Tips For Taking Courses

If you doubt your ability to complete the course due to your low self-efficacy, try to find someone to take it with you. Or, if that is impossible, begin the course and reach out to another student. You are not the only one who feels insecure about taking a course, so working with another student helps to relieve the anxiety. Often, online professional courses will provide previous students’ comments about the course. Before signing up for a course, read the comments and ratings. These will help you understand that others have been successful in this course, which in turn helps you know that you can do the same.

Online learning offers flexibility, a variety of courses, and the same rigor as traditional face-to-face courses. However, the responsibility of learning falls entirely on you. Consider how motivated you are to work on content. In contrast to traditional face-to-face courses with a set schedule, online classes offer the flexibility of working on content according to your discretion. So, if the morning is an optimal time to work, you can take advantage of an early schedule. As much as the flexibility is a benefit of online courses, you still must prioritize coursework over other responsibilities.

The flexibility is a positive aspect of online learning, so use it to your advantage. Before choosing to take an online course, consider the amount of time you have to dedicate to it as well as how you can manipulate your schedule. For best results, create a schedule that suits your learning preferences. If you prefer late nights, after your other responsibilities are out of the way, create a quiet time and place to work. Communicate with your family or roommate about your need for quiet and uninterrupted time. You may choose to share homework time with your children or carve out time during the weekends. Create a schedule that works around your needs and preferences.

Typically, the readings, video lectures, and assignments are available from the beginning of the course, so you can view the entire course at one time. This availability allows you to create a schedule that coincides with your personal commitments and work responsibilities. However, you have the burden of making sense of the readings and lectures. The learning is solely your responsibility, so you essentially teach yourself. If questions arise, you must find alternatives for finding answers if an instructor is not available. Yet, this added burden is arguably a more enlightening learning experience because it requires extra effort.

The fear of not understanding the technology needed to complete the task is another hindrance to taking an online course. However, you can overcome any deficits with technology just by asking. Whether you ask a friend, co-worker, or fellow student, you can find someone to help you figure out any of the technology glitches. At some point, everyone experiences a question about technology. With just a little bit of trial and error, you can find ways to overcome any fears about technology.

When faced with online opportunities to improve skills, increase knowledge, and advance in your career, what’s really preventing you from facing this challenge? Self-efficacy can be improved with planning and the desire to improve yourself.