In times of social distancing, more and more people are embracing online learning. 

In order to make this transition to an online learning environment as seamless as possible, you can easily find innumerous tips on how to make the most of online courses.
However, since I believe that following some of these tips would be counter-productive, I would like to list 3 things you should NOT do.

Don’t follow someone else’s guidelines

You might have lost count of how many times you’ve come across “how-to” articles with 10 tips for online learners. However, you might get frustrated when you realize that some of these tips are not doable for you. 

There’s nothing wrong with you. There isn’t a one-size-fits-all formula for success in learning. What works really well for me may not work for you.

Learning is messy sometimes. It’s not a linear process. There isn’t a cookie-cutter approach to education either. Each and every individual has their own attitudes towards learning. That’s the beauty of it.  

Don’t adopt someone else’s approach to learning if you feel this isn’t the right strategy for you. In order to become an independent learner, you need to develop your own approach. While some learners prefer to watch videos, others learn best when they read the course material. You can take notes on paper or online. You can even record audio notes. Just pick whatever feels best for you.

Don’t avoid distractions at all costs

I know we all should avoid distractions. That’s what everybody says, right? 

Let’s be realistic. It’s easier said than done. Life would be great if you could focus on what you’re doing without being distracted. I know you would like to focus and single-task. You would also like to plan your time and set time limits. But that’s not within everyone’s reach. 

If you need to take care of your kids, for example, single-tasking is probably just pie in the sky. There’s nothing wrong with you, again. We can’t expect things to stop happening around us. In fact, we often get more anxious when kids are too quiet!

There’s only so much you can do to eliminate distractions and be more productive. You can turn off your phone and stay away from social media, but don’t expect things to be perfect. You will get distracted and lose focus. The secret to online learning is not to eliminate all distractions, but to be able to overcome these distractions and still be productive.

Don’t try to be a super learner

I know it’s cool to read about all those learning hacks that can help you become a super learner. 

Some of these strategies could speed up the learning process but you have to be realistic about your goals. Don’t watch the video at 1.5x speed just because fast learners tell you to do so. Take your time. Pause the video and take notes if you feel that’s how you learn best. Watch the video as many times as you want. You can do it at your own pace. Keep your feet on the ground and set realistic expectations for yourself.

We don’t learn the same way and at the same pace. Don’t get frustrated if you think it takes you longer to learn something. 

Don’t take a shortcut, either. Don’t expect to learn Data Science in two weeks or to speak French fluently in three months.

Learning is not a walk in the park. Be consistent and keep working hard.

That being said, don’t get discouraged and don’t make up excuses. Stop waiting for the perfect conditions and get down to work.

Acknowledge your own strengths and limitations and take responsibility for your own learning.

Done is better than perfect. So do it.