Successful Online Learning – Part Two: The Reluctant Learner

In the Buzan Study Skills Handbook, Tony Buzan describes Reluctant Learners as those who keep putting off their study work, which they usually plan to do in the evening.  They have urgent tasks that must be done first, they need to make some phone calls, check their social media, reply to emails, complete household duties, and then they need something to eat so they have the energy to study.

But while they’re snacking they see a movie they’ve always wanted to watch is on that night, so by the time they’re ready to study they’re too tired and ‘brain dead’, so they commit to studying the next day.  But of course that doesn’t happen, and within a few days they are so behind in their studies, it is almost impossible to catch-up.

This applies particularly to Online Study, where there is no class to attend or facilitator to prod them, and there can be a sense they can ‘always catch up’ because the material is available 24/7.

But the vast majority of online learners don’t catch up, and a range of sources tell us there are serious levels of non-completion for even quality online programs, such a leading university MOOCs, having non-completion rates as high as 97%.

I’ve even seen employees given access to Compulsory Professional Development (CPD) online courses, that they MUST complete to get a promotion or maintain professional qualifications, and they NEVER even logon.   So how can they possibly be gaining the knowledge and skills needed to improve performance and achieve success in whatever they are doing?

This applies to all types of online learning, from online university courses to corporate learning and development programs, and industry online courses used by professional associations and bodies to upskill people in a specific field (e.g. legal and accounting professionals).

So how does this relate to the Eat That Frog concept looked at previously?

As I said in part one of this series, just make learning one of the priorities for your day, make it the frog you’ll eat first.  Make your studies one of the first tasks of the day, before things get away from you.

Years ago, as an up and coming executive I followed this approach.  At one stage I had an hour drive to work and would listen to a wide range of personal and professional development programs on cassettes or CDs.  Later as a senior executive I arrived at work by 7:30, well before the 8:30 start time. I used that time to plan the day, learn about the people working for me, read the latest leadership principles, scan several newspapers, and much more.  It was my private time to develop my own knowledge and skills.

I wouldn’t open emails, check overnight activities (I ran a 24/7 operation), or start any of my daily tasks.  The first hour of each day was committed to learning how to do my job better, how to improve the way we did things, to look at new advances and trends in our industry and beyond, and to develop the skills I’d need to get the next job I wanted.  The result for me was a rapid rise through the organization.

It is also important to develop effective study habits and skills

Learning and study success depends on 4 vital skills…

  1. Effectively and efficiently getting information in (speed reading, listening, watching, studying)
  2. Organizing and storing it well for future use (comprehension, note taking, Mind Mapping)
  3. Recalling it as and when you need it (memory, integration)
  4. Synthesizing it into your knowledge database to creatively design the solutions you need (note making, writing, planning, and creative design)

Skills such as range and rapid reading, Mind Mapping, enhanced memory, and critical and creative thinking are vital today to keep up with the infinite amount of information available.  And all these skills can be developed by anyone, at any age.

Missed Bill’s first Successful Online Learning article?  Get it now…Click here

Bill Jarrard, Mindwerx International

[email protected]

Bill is a Fellow with the ILP, CLP and Regional Advocate in Victoria

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