By Betty Vandenbosch, Chief Content Officer, Coursera
Being a successful online learner takes motivation, resilience, and independence. But during the COVID era, which has profoundly affected the way we live, work, and learn, the sense of isolation can feel particularly daunting. Community is important to so much of our lives. During your online learning journey, don’t forget to rely on your community to maintain focus and stay connected.
So whether you’re starting a new course or embarking on a larger credential, there are several communities in your circle that you can count on. Here are a few:
- Workplace — Your manager and HR team are invested in your career growth. If you’re considering an online course to upskill or reskill, look into formal programs or assistance that your workplace may offer. In addition to sponsoring your education, your manager can help motivate you to complete your course and apply your learnings to your role. Your colleagues are also great resources. Pick a course such as Programming for Everybody from the University of Michigan that nearly everyone can benefit from and form a virtual study group.
- Friends and Family — Once you’ve committed to an online program, shout it out to the world, and get your friends and family to rally behind you. Share what you’ve been learning in your weekly dinners or virtual happy hours. Ask your loved ones to check on you and your progress. Another resource? Your school-aged children. Chances are they’re facing the same challenges with remote learning. You can offer each other tips, strategies, and support.
- Study Buddy — Find a family member, friend, or colleague who will join you in taking an online course. Enroll in something that aligns with both of your personal or career interests, such as Anti-Racism from the University of Colorado, Boulder or the Social Media Marketing Professional Certificate from Facebook. Set schedules to watch videos, discuss the material, and prepare for assessments. Having someone who’s in the trenches with you and can keep you accountable will set you up for success.
- Mentor or Role Model — If you don’t have one already, find someone you look up to at your workplace or in your network who’s willing to spend some time coaching you. A person who has moved up in their career can not only help you determine what skills to develop through online learning but can also help keep you on track to complete your studies and provide advice on how to apply your newfound skills.
- Coursera Learner Community — With more than 77 million learners on Coursera, there are countless learners you can rely on for support. Courses include community discussion forums where you can interact with your peers, ask questions, and get help understanding content. In fact, our recent Drivers of Quality in Online Learning report found that learners who participate in discussion forums are 25% more likely to complete a course. Outside of the course experience, you have access to the Coursera Community, which gives you a chance to connect with learners from all over the world, discuss what you’re studying, and get study tips based on others’ first-hand experience.
The pandemic may have shifted the way we connect with people, but you’re not alone. The whole spirit of education pervades everything, and there are people around you who care about your development and can motivate you to keep moving forward.