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Why the Coronavirus Lockdown is a Time to Consider Online Learning

The coronavirus pandemic is imposing lockdown conditions on populations worldwide. If you’re in lockdown and can spare some time, consider online learning. It can enhance your skills, boost your employability and provide structure and routine to your lockdown experience. It can also provide a sense of achievement and a welcome respite from the circumstances of lockdown.

The spread of coronavirus (COVID-19) has led to tragic losses of life and disruption on a massive scale. For some, the consequences may be serious, while for others it may mean a radical lifestyle change and a period of lockdown.

If you find yourself in lockdown, you may have some extra time on your hands. The question will be, how should you spend it?

Friends, family and the media are full of ideas, from binging on Netflix or YouTube, catching up on DIY projects or simply chatting with loved ones. All of these are good suggestions. Another good suggestion, something both productive and motivating, is to spend some time with online learning.

The lowdown on lockdown

Being in lockdown can be challenging. Based on a recent article in The Lancet, the psychological impacts of isolation due to lockdown can include stress, fear, confusion and frustration.

Many of us won’t be totally isolated during lockdown however, but other impacts may apply. Patrick O’Leary, a Professor of Social Work at Griffith University, describes how households locked down in Hubei, for instance, experienced increased levels of tension and anger amongst family members.

Doing something productive and goal-oriented can go a long way towards easing the psychological pressures of lockdown. Judith Matloff, a former journalist who teaches crisis reporting at Columbia University, suggests that structure, routine and targets are beneficial during lockdown. Online learning can provide all of these things, as well as a sense of accomplishment upon completion.

An opportunity for improvement

The coronavirus lockdown is having a huge impact on economies worldwide. This may instil a sense of job insecurity in many of us. The lockdown is disrupting the supply and demand of goods and services everywhere, leading many companies to reduce their output or stop operations altogether. Some companies won’t survive, even with generous government assistance.

The lockdown is therefore a time when anything we can do to shore up our employability is worthwhile, especially for those of us in more vulnerable industries like hospitality, tourism or retail.

One thing we can count on is that life will eventually spring back to a more normal pace. And when that time comes there will be a surge in demand for skills that can help societies and economies get back on track.

Enhancing your skills through online learning can be a very fruitful exercise during lockdown.

Where and what to learn

So, where should you go for online learning?

There are literally hundreds of good choices available these days. And many of them are low-cost or free.

MOOCs, or massive open online courses, are a great place to start. They are flexible, cost effective and offer high quality content. Popular MOOC providers include Coursera, edX, Udacity and Udemy.

If you’re wondering what to learn, perhaps consider something related to your expertise or that you find interesting. Or consider enhancing your knowledge in one of the high demand skill areas of today. And thanks to this article from LinkedIn, we know exactly what those skills are.

High demand skills and MOOCs are excellent choices for online learning.

Make the most of online learning

If you’re new to online learning, or even if you’ve had some prior experience, it’s helpful to know how to make the most of it. Online learning is different to traditional learning and has its own unique benefits and demands. It can be quite challenging, particularly for those not used to self-paced learning or working to a routine.

With a sensible approach however, online learning can be productive, rewarding and offer a great deal of flexibility. The following simple yet powerful tips will help to maximise your chances of success:

  • Develop a routine – Choose a regular time, find a comfortable workspace and select a study environment that works best for you. A good routine can improve your productivity and help you move seamlessly through your coursework.
  • Set goals – Plan your expected progress by marking out small, meaningful and achievable milestones. This will help you keep on track and stay motivated.
  • Learn actively – Active learning is essential for developing a deep, conceptual understanding. You can do this by engaging your senses, for example by making notes or writing code. The more you can put into practice what you’re learning, the better.
  • Reach out to other learners – Join forums or chat groups where you can discuss the course, seek out help or offer help to others. This is particularly important for those who aren’t used to self-learning or who may tend to feel isolated with online learning.
  • Stay the course – Failing to finish is one of the most common issues facing online learners. There are external pressures, frustrations and numerous other reasons for learners wanting to quit. The key is to persist. You’ll likely resolve whatever obstacles are holding you back and will give yourself the best chance of completion, and hence success.

Remember that you may need to adjust your learning approach under lockdown conditions. Your choice of where to study, for instance, will be limited. It may be difficult, or impossible, to visit your local cafe or library if that’s what you prefer. You’ll need to make the most of the situation that lockdown allows.

In conclusion

Whatever your circumstances in lockdown, an online course could be a great way to spend your time. You can learn something that will motivate you, distract you or enhance your career. Or all of these things.

There are many good courses to choose from and many are low-cost or free. With a sensible approach and using tried and tested tips, you’ll also have every chance of success.

Online learning will moreover give you a reason to focus on something positive amidst the confusion of lockdown. This will make you feel better about your prospects in a post-lockdown world. It may also be a welcome respite from the challenges and uncertainties that the coronavirus brings.

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