Make Online Courses Less Boring & More Effective

After going through the internet, I have shortlisted a few tips and tricks that can help you in your journey through the world of online training. Read it till the end. Keep in mind you don’t have to rush through the courses you take. If you have any doubt, ask the instructor directly if you can or send them a mail and get your doubts solved. These tips will help you in overcoming boredom and improve your efficiency as well.

Use a timer

This is something that I use frequently and has helped me a lot when I have to study and don’t have much time. The word here is “Pomodoro”. Derived from an Italian word meaning ‘tomato’, the Pomodoro technique is one of the best tools for managing time effectively. For those who don’t know, the technique consists of 25 minutes of work and a 5-minute break. This is known as a session. So an hour comprises 2 sessions with 50 minutes of work and the remaining 10 minutes as a rest period. After 4 such sessions, you can take a longer break of 10–30 minutes and continue working after that. However, there’s a catch. Work seriously during those 25 minutes. No phone, social media or any other form of distraction that will cause your mind to wander off somewhere else. You really need to get the most out of the work period. After that, during the break, you can do anything you want as a refresher. I would suggest standing up and walking or drinking water or even a micro-workout can do wonders if you use your break effectively. Once the break is over, start your “deep work” again for the next 25 minutes

Pomodoro Timer

You can change the duration and work and rest period. I usually keep a timer of 25:5 mins when learning something new online and a 50:10 mins timer while studying for exams with no big breaks. (pro-tip: keep a book and a pen handy while working. Write any task or idea that comes up in your mind during this period. Complete the task you have written during the break. This will also help clear your mind and minimize distractions). A lot of Pomodoro apps are available. I would recommend Tomato Timer (Web) and Engross (Android, iOS).

Choose a note-taking system that suits you

Taking notes during online courses is crucial. You will not prefer re-watching the video to revise and will rather prefer referring notes instead. Few courses provide notes. However, I recommend making notes by yourself as it is a part of active learning and not just passively watching videos and downloading notes which you will think of referring to after the lecture (and that too will not happen, right?). Two ways of taking down notes: handwritten or digital. Try out yourself and choose which suits you better. However, research suggests that handwritten notes are more effective and using laptops result in shallow processing of the information. Personally, I have tried making digital notes and it worked really well in almost every situation. Notes were immaculate and organizing them was easy (using tags and cloud storage). Evernote (Android, iOS, Web, Windows) is my go-to note-taking app. Notion (Android, iOS, Web, Windows) is another good alternative. You can use Google/Apple Notes app but they don’t have a lot of features as compared to the previously mentioned apps.

Now, talking about note-taking methods. They are broadly classified into 5 types: Cornell, Outline, Charting, Sentence and Mind-Mapping methods. Rather than me explaining every method, I would suggest you read this article by Oxford Learning on note-taking methods. They have explained each of them with advantages, disadvantages and steps. Evernote has templates of such methods which can come in handy if you want to take digital notes

Set a deadline

You purchase a course from Udemy for Rs.420/- (with a massive discount, of course). You start with the first module and complete it within an hour, feeling accomplished as the course comprises 5 more modules only. You must be on the second or third module and you give up and do something else instead or else you just stop learning for a while. And then you never see the course ever again (relatable?). For self-paced courses, you need to set a deadline and complete the training before that date. Most of the websites show the number of hours/weeks the course will take to complete. Use that and make a deadline. Use a calendar app to add a reminder or make it a habit to study for a few hours every day. Websites also show you the number of hours you have to dedicate every week to finish the course before the deadline.

If the course consists of live online lectures, add a reminder to your phone so you don’t miss the lecture. Recorded lectures are a thing, but you cannot ask doubts, and get answers instantly. Also, one more thing to keep in mind. Don’t register for multiple courses simultaneously if you are not used to online learning. That will surely hamper your learning and make it difficult for you to meet the deadline. Learning is a lifelong process. You don’t have to learn 10 things at a time. Be consistent instead.

Make it interactive

This one is straightforward. Take part in online forums, ask your tutors, friends and even take up a project to gain some practical knowledge about it. Look for online exams to test your knowledge. Active learning will help you in the long run. However, make it a habit to read first, then ask doubts if you don’t find an answer. It may happen that someone else had the same doubt earlier and it is already discussed in the forum. There are various online forums and projects on the internet. If the problem is not very complex, try to solve it yourself first and then head over to the forum. Mindlessly reading comments/discussions for a minor doubt will lead to procrastination, and you don’t want that. The Cornell note-taking system is very effective for doubt-solving. Write your doubts in the cue section, get it solved after the lecture and refer them in the future.

Leave a comment if you have questions or want to share your ideas. Share this article with your friends and provide feedback as well. Thank you for reading and I wish you all the best! Make good use of the time you have and learn something new.



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Girish Chawla

Girish Chawla


I mostly write about productivity, tech and health (sometimes, I may go off-topic).