How online learning can make you more employable
Most things are on hold at the moment, but they won’t be forever. School, uni, work and socialising will return to normal. While there will probably be anxiety when lockdown ends, there are some unexpected benefits to be gained from this time in isolation and the move to online learning.
Studying online helps you strengthen fundamental job skills that employers, regardless of industry, seek in their employees. We spoke to Associate Professor Miriam Tanti and Dr Therese Barrington about what those might be.
There is a different way of ‘being’ when online. It can take courage to speak up. It feels more exposing to speak up in an online class than to call out from the sea of people in a physical classroom. You learn to articulate your ideas. You realise how much the flow of the class depends on your contribution.
Online students work hard to effectively communicate digitally, share information in nontraditional ways, listen and read carefully, and respond specifically and succinctly. These communication skills are sought after and they are key to building relationships at work and contributing effectively in meetings.
Online learning requires managing multiple assignments, courses and deadlines. Classes are often run as a combination of autonomous tasks and group online activities. Autonomous tasks mean that you need to effectively manage your time in order to remain on top of your work. Establishing a timetable or setting a daily routine to help manage tasks are essential workplace skills.
Online courses are writing intensive, giving you the opportunity to strengthen critical writing skills. Since you are communicating extensively via email and online discussion boards, you have the opportunity to really work on the nuances of digital communication and develop competencies that every recruiter and hiring manager wants to see.
To be successful, an online student needs to want to succeed. Online learning requires independence, internal motivation, responsibility, and a certain level of maturity. Taking charge of your own time and not allowing procrastination are good habits to cultivate before entering the workforce.
Basic computer literacy is essential for just about any job. Working with lecturers and other students through videoconferencing, webinars, online discussion boards and other online communication and collaboration tools prepares you for a technology-driven work environment.
One of the misconceptions about online learning is that students are isolated. Group projects are often part of the curriculum requiring students to leverage each other's strengths as well as compromise and adapt to accommodate each other’s schedules and priorities. Working with others is a critical part of most jobs.
Resilience and adaptability
Remote learning is not easy, in many ways it is more rigorous and challenging. Constantly having to develop strategies to be more flexible, agile and adaptable fosters resilience and an ability to roll with the punches which every workplace needs. Resilience is the ability to move past failure or disappointment with grace. By not dwelling on the past, you’ll be more productive with future tasks.
By learning with traditional and non-traditional resources, identifying and stating a problem clearly and concisely, and going beyond simple Google searches and using advanced features when digging for information, you will develop strong research skills that look excellent on a CV.
So, when things get back to normal don’t forget to update your resume and start making a great impression in the job market.
As the Acting Head of ACU’s School of Education in NSW and the ACT, Associate Professor Miriam Tanti prepares pre-service teachers to teach in contemporary learning environments, through the meaningful integration of digital technologies.
Dr Therese Barrington teaches face-to-face classes in NSW and online classes for preservice teachers across Australia, some in remote areas. The movement to online classes has been an opportunity for her preservice teachers to explore synchronous and asynchronous ways of learning and to connect in different ways.
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