Online learning experiences range from extensive, such as an entire career devoted to lifelong learning and professional development, to the beginner.
Wherever you land on the spectrum of online learning, you will benefit from insights and assumptions questioned by others, in your same shoes.
It was 1999, when professional development specialists and many individual learners in training settings created by corporations, associations, colleges and internet entrepreneurs approached me seeking help to create new kinds of learning experiences.
Across many years, miles, and time zones, we’ve seen a thing or two—or 500, to help you become a smarter learner, teacher, education collaborator and volunteer, and help you avoid harmful mistakes and bad situations.
What started as a list of 10 things to ask before you step into any online learning adventure grew into many possible answers.
Parents of today’s children, recently thrown into virtual classrooms, can remember when there was no email, no browsers, no texting, no mobile devices—just classrooms, teachers, books and lots of paper. This online stampede involving millions was barely a walk in the park for two, nearly 20 years ago.
Along the way, many people took our list of 10 Things I Wish I Knew Before Stepping Into Online Learning and turned them into Warning Labels. That’s the magic of working with humans instead of robots—creativity and whimsy.
Learning is growing and living. That makes it a total human experience. This article is a little slice of heaven that speaks directly to people in these roles:
Continuing education credits matter only if the course has something to do with your work now or career, eventually. Many of these 10 questions are not important if you want to spend your life and money on entertainment or personal adventures.
Even then, another question seems worthwhile. Would your non-working, non-family, non-productive, discretionary time be better spent working on something new to serve others? Is there someone out there already committed to wanting you to have this new skill or knowledge?
One good reason for taking an online course with no professional credits is the relationship building and mutual benefit for teacher and learner. Last year I purchased and committed to a course created by a professional colleague. This is someone who knows me, I admire their accomplishments, and we’ve both taught at the college level. I wanted to have some dedicated hang time with this professional. I wanted to see if their lessons were unique to their practice or if it was something I’ve seen elsewhere in my 25 years as practitioner for online learning for professionals.
The teacher was equally interested in the conversations we would have and what he would learn from me. The teacher was passionate about student success. Real teachers care deeply about what happens to the student AFTER completing their courses.
That takes us to the final warning label. If you don’t know them and they don’t know you, their course is probably a side hustle. This is not how they feed their family. Many, in fact, when you ask for credentials, are employees of someone else. They want to experiment, on you, with creating an online business. Your life is worth much more than that.