Skilljar Blog

The 3 stages of online learning

Posted by Sandi Lin on July 3, 2013

Online learning is an exciting new opportunity for you to develop your skills and to achieve your personal and professional goals. But it can feel overwhelming if you don't know where to start, or what you need to learn. At Everpath, we think of online learning in 3 stages - exploring, learning, and practicing.

  1. Exploring. This is a great time to figure out your personal goals and how to get there. Are you trying a new programming language for fun, or for a career change? Do you prefer watching videos, or learning through interactive tutorials? It's ok to try several different approaches and see what works best for you. It's easy to give up in this stage because it can feel like you're spinning around in circles. But in reality, you are learning a lot about your goals and online learning style. In my case, I learned that to build a scrappy website, I could use quick Ruby on Rails courses instead of university courses that teach the fundamentals of programming (which are typically months long and taught in Java). I also learned that project-based courses are a better fit for me than watching videos.
  2. Learning. Once you've explored your options and decided on a path, it's time to focus on learning! Find courses that meet your interests and learning style, whether that's based on price, length, or other factors (for more information, see our blog post on how to choose online courses). In my case, I paired One Month Rails with the Ruby on Rails Tutorial.
  3. Practicing. Depending on your goals, you could practice using online exercises (LearnStreet has great options for Ruby, Python, and JavaScript), or dive into your own project. Since I knew I wanted to build Everpath, I started with the easiest steps that I learned from tutorials, and slowly layered on more functionality.

It's quite common to move back and forth between the 3 stages of exploring, learning, and practicing. The exploring stage can take time, but it's very much still progress. The important thing is to get started and not give up!

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