So – you signed up for another course. This course will work for you – really and truly.
Or, maybe not. Sigh. How can you make the most of your learning opportunities and be the best student possible ? This post was inspired by a conversation with an amazingly talented dog trainer and instructor – always grateful for the thought provoking questions and conversations that come my way!  Read on ..  

I’ve been teaching online since 2014 – and taking courses online for my other world work since 2003. That’s hundreds and hundreds of hours invested and lots of good evidence to support my tips to help you make the most of the course.

10) Understand what the course you are taking is about. What is the focus? What can you expect to learn? What skills or tools can you enhance? If you are in a course that isn’t what you expected can you change direction? Odds are pretty good you can get something meaningful from the course even if it isn’t quite what you expected!*

9) Be kind.To yourself, your dog,  your classmates and your instructor. You are all working for the same goal – improvement in or learning a skill. Getting upset because it’s a little slow or too quick paced for you is not going to help you make the most of your time in the class. Kindness counts!

8)  Focus on your needs.  What  brought you to the class? Does your instructor know what your goals are for the time you are working together? As an instructor it’s pretty obvious that the better I know my students the more help I can give them. I am an introvert myself though and tend to forget to share openly when I am a student! Ironic huh? 

7) Think. Don’t expect the instructor to think for you. It’s fine to ask for direction (see number 4) but follow prompts/requests/homework to determine what you show/discuss in your class.  If you make up entirely your own course don’t be shocked if no one follows you down the garden path!

6) Support and collaborate with your classmates. Odds are good you have some very like-minded people in your course. Look out for each other, celebrate successes and learn from as well as with each other.

5) Set aside regular time to use your class. Plan time to give to it. You spent money on it – so don’t be shy about spending energy on it too!  It doesn’t matter if it’s daily, bi-weekly, if it’s at the same time every day, if you miss a day or two or a week if you have to – the point here is to know when you will have time to devote to class.

4) Ask questions – it’s OK to seek clarity and understanding of material and to understand how best to apply it to your situation. We are not cookie cutters, nor are our dogs. So figure out what you don’t understand and review that part of the material. If you are still confused or unsure – watch a classmate’s response and see if that helps. If not ask!! You may need to ask a question a couple of different ways. As much as I wish I was a mind reader I am not – nor are most of my colleagues.

3) Show all your work. Yep  even the video sessions that don’t look exactly perfect – the negative thinking loop you got caught in.  Real world homework isn’t designed to have you show the perfect answers  and earn an A+. It’s designed to let the instructor HELP you get better and better at the skill or use the knowledge in a better way. Showing the not as perfect work, especially if you aren’t sure why it didn’t go as well  is the best way to get the most from the course as it allows for meaningful feedback. I can send you a recording of me saying “super, well done, that looked great” that you can play anytime you watch a perfect video!!

2) Take notes – yes seriouslyWhen you read or watch a lecture write down key points. Print off the lecture and mark it up. Study after study shows that writing improves retention and understanding. USE SCIENCE!!

1) Apply your learning. Make sure you see a way to practice and use the knowledge you are absorbing.  Decide on what epiphanies you’ve had and how you can use them. Why not test  record keeping  in some way – a simple notation, a fancy chart – whatever works for you is fine as long as you do SOMETHING!!

How good an online learner are you?  Give some of these tips a shot and see how much MORE you can get out of the courses you take.

Want to check out great online learning opportunities?  Fenzi Dog Sport Academy (registration for all kinds of cool courses starts Nov 22!)  and this very topic is covered in my Dec class – extensively!  HEART is the place to explore horse  class options!