How to Learn More From Courses

Sections of this topic

    © Copyright Carter McNamara, MBA, PhD, Authenticity Consulting, LLC.

    Market research shows that we adults are enthralled with courses. We love to
    learn! Trainers and developers are responding with an explosion of new courses,
    and these are costing more than ever. Therefore, it’s critical to know
    your learning needs and how to meet them

    Sections of This Topic Include

    When Considering a Course
    During the Course

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    · Too often, we decide what courses to take by scanning
    a list of new courses. This is like picking dessert from a dessert
    tray: you pick what you want more than what you need. Reflect
    on your needs. What do you need for your career? Is there a particular
    problem you’re facing in your career, home life, or job?
    · Try to specify your needs in terms of outcomes or impacts,
    not in terms of activities. For example, seek certain enhanced
    skills, knowledge, perceptions, etc. Think about how you’ll
    know if these outcomes were reached or not.
    · Don’t just look at courses as a means to achieve your
    preferred outcomes. Too often, we think we only can learn in classrooms
    from an expert who lectures us. With today’s technologies,
    we have immediate access to a wide range of materials and information.
    “Homeschooling” is an increasingly useful technique
    for learning.
    · Think about how much you’ve really used materials
    from earlier courses. For example, are you the kind of person
    who takes a course and brings materials home to sit on a shelf
    and never be looked at again? If so, what can you do to change?

    When Considering a Course

    · Look at the outcomes promised from the course. Do
    they match your needs? Do the objectives and learning activities
    sound like they’ll really produce those outcomes promised
    by the course?
    · Call the instructor and discuss your needs. Find out
    if he or she believes the course will be useful. Beware the person
    with a big hammer — to them, everyone is a nail.
    · Get a biography of the instructor. What evidence do you
    see that the instructor really has the expertise to be teaching
    that course and subject matter?
    · Attempt to get an outline of the course. Is the course
    well organized? Does the course include sufficient time for questions
    and for evaluation? Are materials provided to support lectures?
    · Ask the school or the instructor for a copy of the form
    used to evaluate the courses and the instructor. What objectives
    are measured by the form? These objectives are often those that
    the instructor will try to reach.
    · Assess if the course will be jam-packed and very hectic.
    If so, there will probably be little time for questions and answers.
    You might be overwhelmed with a “data dump” of information
    and little knowledge.
    · See if there’s a discount to take the course a second
    time if needed. Occasionally we don’t get enough from a course
    even if the instructor does a fine job and the materials were
    very useful.

    During the Course

    · Be sure you’re comfortable and can hear the instructor.
    Sit at the front of the room if possible.
    · Take notes by recording important points and conclusions,
    not everything the instructor says. Note if the instructor is
    speaking from a set of materials, in which case, you may not need
    to record all the important points because the materials may already
    contain those points.
    · Get a list of who’s in the course. Ask some classmates
    if they are interested in getting together to help each other
    apply the materials and exchange feedback about their experiences.
    · Is the instructor following the agenda? Will promised
    topics to be discussed with sufficient time?
    · Find out how to get in touch with the instructor at a
    later time if needed. You may have a question or two about how
    to apply materials. The instructor may appreciate your feedback.
    · Ask questions if you don’t understand the instructor
    or what’s going on! This may be the most useful activity
    for getting the most out of your course. Speak up if you wonder
    whether information or materials seem realistic or practical.


    · You can learn a lot from evaluation! The most useful
    forms of evaluation include time at the end of the course for learners
    to discuss the quality of the course. At the beginning of the
    course, ask the instructor to try leave sufficient time for this.
    · Too often, evaluations are based on our feelings about
    our experiences in the course, rather than if the course achieved
    its objectives or not. Carefully consider whether the course met
    its objectives or not.


    · Very soon after the course, review your notes and
    the materials. This will ensure your notes are complete and help
    you internalize the materials.
    · Mark your calendar for three months out. At that time,
    ask yourself if you’re using materials from the course. If
    not, why not? What can you learn from this?

    Also, consider


    in Courses

    Group Learning
    to Study
    Terms in Learning

    Your Learning
    Your Thinking
    Learning Styles


    of Learning
    Study Guides


    How to Get
    the Most Out of Your Courses

    the Most from Online Classes

    Also, consider


    For the Category of Personal Development:

    To round out your knowledge of this Library topic, you may want to review some related topics, available from the link below. Each of the related topics includes free, online resources.

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