Get Started with Online Learning

This free online course will explain how you can study online without putting the rest of your life on hold.

  • Duration 2 weeks
  • Weekly study 3 hours

Why join the course?

The internet is playing a bigger role in our lives, as we buy our groceries, manage our finances, share social experiences and otherwise live our lives online. But how many of us have considered studying online?

In this free online course, you will find out what online learning is and what it can offer you. You’ll discover the skills required for online study and evaluate your own study skillset. You’ll also examine how students form online communities and how they benefit from flexible study arrangements while still being supported by dedicated tutors.

Studying online takes advantage of technology to simulate or improve upon traditional methods of teaching. This course draws on the expertise of The Open University to introduce you to some of these teaching methods, including looking at two periods of European history, teaching chemistry through the online OpenScience Laboratory and using free apps to practise writing Chinese characters.

Studying at a campus university isn’t for everyone. If you have caring responsibilities, want to re-skill to change careers or develop professionally, or simply wish to earn while you learn, then online study may be for you.

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Skip to 0 minutes and 12 secondsHEIDI MCCAFFERTY: I'm Heidi McCafferty. I did my first degree with the Open University, and now I'm doing a master's there. In this two-week course we'll be looking at what it means to study online, how you go about it, the advantages, and also the challenges and how to meet them. It'll give you a bit of a taster of studying online, and look at some of the questions that prospective students often ask, such as how much study time is involved, what if I'm struggling with an essay, what if my study skills are rusty, or school didn't work well for me?

Skip to 0 minutes and 42 secondsThis course draws on the expertise of the Open University to show you how it's possible to get a degree, or a certificate, without becoming a full time student at a campus university. There are lots of reasons why it suited me better to study online. For a start, it means you can fit studying in around the parts of your life. So if you've begun your career, have caring responsibilities, or prefer to stay at home, then this can also work well for you. You can study at a time and a place to suit you, with support from a dedicated tutor. And you can get support from lots of other students through special social media forums.

Skip to 1 minute and 22 secondsTry out this short course to see if studying online could be the answer for you.

What topics will you cover?

What activities you already carry out online, such as shopping and banking

Explored how you already learn online informally

Considered what it means to become a formal online learner

Carried out a small research task where you considered the validity of internet sources

The technological innovations which will support your online learning how you can manage your own study and get support from tutors and other students

How you can plan for your long-term study and career goals.

When would you like to start?

  • Date to be announced

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What will you achieve?

By the end of the course, you'll be able to...

  • Explore and understand the key aspects of online study
  • Identify and recognise the main differences between online study and study at a campus-based university
  • Assess how studying online can match personal interests and preferences, and help to develop skills.

Who is the course for?

This course is open to anyone with an interest in Online Learning.

Who will you learn with?

Laura Hills

Laura Hills

As part of the team at the Centre for Inclusion and Collaborative Partnerships at The Open University, I have an interest in widening access to education and how learning can best be supported.

Jay Rixon

Jay Rixon

I am a creative and innovative education practitioner who values learning and seeks opportunities to learn, develop and grow and support others.

Who developed the course?

The Open University

The Open University (OU) is the largest academic institution in the UK and a world leader in flexible distance learning, with a mission to be open to people, places, methods and ideas.

  • Established1969
  • LocationMilton Keynes, UK
  • World rankingTop 510Source: Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2020