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10 Tips For Successful Online Learning

1) Online is not like other media
You cannot take a lecture or a book, put it online, and expects people to learn. People do not have the patience to turn pages, listen to a talking head, or watch a self-running demonstration. Internet learners want to see, hear, and do, often at the same time. They want to interact anywhere they can find an Internet connection. And they don't want to wait, even with a slow connection.

2) I want to learn what I want, when I want it, wherever I happen to be
Convenience is critical. You can't expect someone to go through a whole course on a topic just because that's the way it's been taught in the past. Internet learners expect learning chunks of five to fifteen minutes. Think short attention spans, MTV generation, and just in time learning.

3) How am I doing?
Content is king, but feedback is queen. It's not just about putting the information out there. Learners want to know how they are doing. And it's not just, "did I get this question right?", but, "how do I master this technique from now on?"

4) I learn it my way
Sometimes a learner just needs a tip, sometimes a complete explanation. Often a learner will want to see an example. Many times a learner will want to practice. The choice needs to be theirs. A learner will not be held hostage just because a system only allows one style of learning, he or she will just tune out.

5) Learners don't always follow directions
There isn't just one way to get to Carnegie Hall and there can't be just one path through the learning material. Some people will want to view an index. Some will want to search. Some will follow a series of Other Links, and others will follow along sequentially. The key point is that the system and material have to be designed with multiple paths in mind.

6) Create once, use many times
Learning offerings have to capitalize on materials that have been created for other purposes. Tutorials, lessons, multimedia that are created for one application need to be able to be repackaged and made available for others. This is how to keep costs down.

7) Great support is too late and too expensive
Keep it simple. Watch how people use your system and see where they fall down. Then build easier ways to interact and provide easy to access self help. No one wants to email for support or call congested help lines. Make learning intuitive.

8)Things change
Procedures become obsolete, new tasks require different skill sets, and errors need to be corrected. Build easy ways to manage, correct, edit, change, and re-use your lessons, practice exercises, and questions.

9) Track and measure
It's not just important to track and measure how well people are learning. Use this information to personalize the learner's experience. Provide custom feedback, give advice, and recommend activities depending on the skills and goals of the learner and the course.

10) Stay connected
Communicate and build a sense of community. Let learners know how they are doing and give them useful information on an ongoing basis. Find ways to bring them back.

Mitchell Weisburgh has over 20 years experience in designing training, education, and e-learning systems.

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1. 10 Tips For Online Learning
2. Evaluating e Learning
3. The Magic of Learner Motivation
4. The Benefits and Drawbacks of e-Learning
5. Marketing e-Learning
6. Measuring the Financial Returns of e-Learning
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