learning how to learn

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The value of learning how to learn

By Academy Xi

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Journalist and educational technology specialist Saga Briggs explains why anyone who wants to future-proof their career should make ‘learning how to learn’ their biggest priority.  

If you empower yourself to do one thing in the near future, make it this: learn how to learn. As the jobs of the future will require multiple skillsets – weaving technical skills together with creativity, interpersonal skills, and adaptability – we can no longer afford to specialise. The most important skill of all will be the ability to diversify your toolbox. 

Becoming an autodidact

The term “autodidact” refers to an individual who teaches themself about a subject or subjects in which they have little to no formal education. Benjamin Franklin was an autodidact, as were Jorge Luis Borges, Eileen Gray, Gustave Eiffel, and Frida Kahlo. Bill Gates, who taught himself to program as a teenager, is also an autodidact as well.

The original “self-directed learners,” autodidacts possess intrinsic motivation, self-determination, and a true passion for learning. We’ve all known at least one person who fits this description. We can learn to fit this description ourselves.

becoming autodidact

Self-Regulated Learning (SRL) strategies include things like goal-setting and structuring learning content, self-evaluation, putting rewards in place, group reflection, and note taking.

But we’re not often taught how to do these things well. One study found that although most students can correctly identify common SRL strategies, they don’t know how to put them into practice or when to use specific techniques. In fact, only a third of students who could correctly identify a learning technique as beneficial admitted to actually using that technique in their own learning.

Just because the future will require us to learn more, and more often, doesn’t mean we will know how. That’s why the only truly “future-proof” skill isn’t a specific job qualification; it’s knowing how to learn. We all need to become experts in Self-Regulated Learning (SRL). So where do we begin?

How to identify which skills you need

The first step in learning how to learn is deciding where to direct your efforts. What skills do you need to develop now, five years from now, ten years from now?

First, learn to identify trends and see where you fit into the shifting landscape. Chances are, you’ll have at least one existing skill that can provide a foot in the door.

For example, say you work in the education industry, as an educational consultant, course designer, or online tutor. Many companies now have internal upskilling and reskilling programs for their employees. You can position yourself as a learning consultant, or train to become a Chief Skills and Learning Officer (CSLO), to pivot your way into the future and stay one step ahead of the game.

Similarly, if you want to move into design but your background is in marketing and communications, take a UX writing course and pivot into the UX world. If you’re interested in entrepreneurship but your background is in biology, lean hard into your research and data science skills and create a data analytics consulting agency. Want to become a software engineer mid-way through your social work degree? Take programming courses on the side, but also direct your formal studies in a way that supports your future vision: take on projects that allow you to showcase your people skills, as employers will increasingly be looking for software engineers who can work well with teams.  

Follow organisations like the Institute for the Future for the latest trends forecast, and build a list of skills you want to have and skills you currently have that will help you get there.

How to make time to learn 

“How we spend our days,” said the American writer Annie Dillard, “is, of course, how we spend our lives.”

Best-selling author James Clear has written an entire book, Atomic Habits, supporting this view: “Every action you take is a vote for the person you want to become.”

I find this way of thinking highly motivating, but I’ve also bought enough Bullet Journals and downloaded enough productivity apps to be slightly disillusioned with it. The most common refrain in the productivity-hacking world, “Just do a little bit each day,” sounds achievable in theory, but the reality is that life gets in the way and always will. 

Is it possible to divide our days into perfectly segmented sessions of the things we want to do? Probably not. Still, we can’t let the occasional slip devastate us into giving up. How do we stay on the right track when time or energy aren’t on our side?

When it comes to adopting any new habit, we need to allow ourselves some wiggle room. But how much? Is a vegan who eats a burger once a month still a vegan? We need to be able to let ourselves slip and still know we’re doing what we said we’d do. How do we calculate this wiggle room?

I find that it helps when I’ve done the thing before, like with distance running: I know that even if I slip, I can get back on the train and run a fast half marathon because I trust myself to achieve the goals even with some slips here and there. I know I can miss up to two days a week if I’m training for a half and still stay in good shape, but if I go beyond that I need to re-focus.

Maybe time is your main issue. If you can only devote a few hours a week to the skill, for example during a self-paced online course, that’s fine too. It may take you longer to master it than if you had time to devote to it every day, but the important part is that you’re actively doing it.

What is the bridge?

When you’re picking up any new skills, ask yourself “what’s the bridge?”. New skills are intimidating only because you can’t see the bridge between what you know in daily life and this huge new field. But if I start with something I know is part of my daily experience, I can frame it within that and stay motivated. For me, the bridge is running. Or any other subject I talk about with people on a daily basis. It’s a better, more rewarding use of my time to start specific and tackle one thing than to cast the net wide and study more generally.

If you’re a designer interested in UX writing, ask yourself what skills you already have that can be your bridge into the new area. You already know UX; you just need to improve your copywriting portfolio. If you’re a biology researcher interested in UX design, consider becoming a UX researcher first and then working your way over to the design field. If you’re a writer interested in entrepreneurship, leverage your communication skills to work your way into marketing and communications, and open up a digital marketing agency.  

How to learn efficiently

With that, here are a few ways to hone the superpower of learning how to learn.

how to learn effectively

1. Decide what you want to learn

Be mindful of what information you want to enter your mind.

Humans spend a lot of time consuming information and very little time deciding what information they want to consume and how they want to consume it. It’s tempting to try to absorb everything for fear of missing out. But that’s not possible. So learning to learn is, fundamentally, about deciding where to place your attention.

Make a list of the things you want to spend the most time attending to, things that deserve less attention, things that can wait, and things you’d like to shut out.  

2. Work out before (not after) you learn

Yet again, the early bird gets the worm. To retain more of what you learn, neuroscientists recommend working out your body before your mind. It’s well-known that aerobic exercise spurs neurogenesis, or the creation of new brain cells. But researchers have found that neurogenesis itself isn’t always a good thing, as it can push old information off the memory circuit, so you need to be mindful of when you work out.

Neuroscientists at the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto have found they can control whether rats retain or forget new information by changing when they exercise. If they exercise before learning, the rats retain the new information. If they exercise after learning, rats are more likely to forget that information. That’s because neurogenesis functions a lot like sleep, clearing away old memories to make room for new ones.

“More neurons increase the capacity to learn new memories in the future,” says Neuroscientist Sheena Josselyn. “But memory is based on a circuit, so if you add to this circuit, it makes sense that it would disrupt it.”

Get out the door early for optimal learning performance.

3. Build your self-control in all areas

In their new study, Just do it: Engaging in self-control on a daily basis improves the capacity for self-control, Dutch researchers found that our general capacity for self-control can be increased by exercising self-control in a specific area. In other words, it builds on itself.

“Self-control is considered a crucial capacity that helps people to achieve important objectives in the face of temptation,” the researchers write. “However, it is unknown to what extent self-control is a stable disposition that is unaffected by how often people engage in self-control, or more like a skill that develops and grows over time.”

Their study answered that question by tracking participants’ behaviour over a four-month period.  

They found that “regular practice led to an improvement of medium effect size in self-control capacity” and that the level of improvement depended on “the actual times of practice during a specific interval” and not on previous beliefs about self-control or self-efficacy.

“We conclude that ‘just doing’ self-control is the underlying mechanism of increased capacity for self-control.” This means that every time you exercise self-control in one area, whether it’s limiting your caffeine intake or working out every day despite the weather, the effect snowballs and helps you achieve self-control in other areas as well.

So, if you want the ability to concentrate better on your work or studies, resisting the urge to check your phone or social media not only reduces distraction but also builds your capacity to focus on the right thing. It also makes it easier for you to get out the door for that evening workout.

4. Think positively of others

Put another way: self-transcendent thoughts make us more likely to engage in otherwise intimidating activities.

In a fascinating study led by researchers at U Penn, people were more likely to take on challenges when they were primed to feel compassion toward others first. The challenge examined in the study was to adopt healthier behaviours, and researchers found that people responded less defensively to health messages (i.e. being prompted to exercise) if they first experienced feelings of self-transcendence.  

Under normal conditions, participants responded defensively to the health messages. But if they were primed beforehand to think about the well-being of others, such as their children and other family members, they responded more positively.

“Focusing on values and activities that transcend the self can allow people to see that their self-worth is not tied to a specific behaviour in question, and in turn become more receptive to subsequent, otherwise threatening health information,” the researchers explain.

Use this logic to enhance your own learning: If you’re resistant to taking on a new skill, don’t wrap up your performance so much with your self-worth. Meditate first on the things you care about beyond yourself.

5. Learn the boring stuff while you’re in the flow

It’s tempting to learn what interests us first and save the boring material for later, but researchers at the University of California say you should learn the boring stuff alongside the interesting stuff if you want to retain it in the long run.

“Curiosity may put the brain in a state that allows it to learn and retain any kind of information, like a vortex that sucks in what you are motivated to learn, and also everything around it,” says Dr. Matthias Gruber, lead author of the study, in a Huffington Post interview.

When your brain’s curiosity flip is switched on, it’s as though you’ve cast a big net which catches all kinds of information—interesting and boring alike—and helps it stick. Use this to your advantage by switching to the “less fun” material while your brain is stimulated.

6. Swap learning styles for task styles

If you’re not already aware, here’s a news flash: learning styles theory is a myth. There’s virtually no scientific evidence to back up the claim that some of us are “visual learners,” “kinesthetic learners,” or “auditory learners.” For one thing, all humans are visual learners. We may have preferred thinking styles, says cognitive psychologist Daniel Willingham, but these don’t serve us when they don’t match up with the task at hand—for instance, if we’re reading a transcript of a debate instead of listening to the more emotionally charged audio version. 

“The data show that people do have some propensity to use one or another mode of thinking, but people would be better off if they didn’t; rather, they should use the mode of thinking that’s a better fit for the task at hand,” he says.

As an example, Willingham cites a study where participants were asked to memorise sentences:

“Even if you’re a verbalizer, if you’re trying to remember sentences, it doesn’t make sense for me to tell you to verbalise (for example, by repeating sentences to yourself) because visualising (for example, by creating a visual mental image) will make the task that much easier. Making the task more difficult is not a good strategy for motivation.”

Think about how the information you’re learning could best be absorbed, and design your study methods around it. 

7. Use the production effect

The production effect is a memory trick that involves “performing” your learning by engaging with new material in multiple ways. You might try to memorise a new set of facts by speaking it, singing it, drawing it, or interacting with it auditorily or kinesthetically.

“Anytime you retrieve a memory item, it is an opportunity to re-learn it in a sense, and the information gets re-consolidated,” writes Dr. William Klemm, senior professor of neuroscience at Texas A&M University. “So, if you speak, draw, or use another production effect during forced recall, you further strengthen the encoding and subsequent consolidation.”

8. Reflect on past learning

According to Oakley, there are two brain gears involved in new learning: the focused state and the diffuse state. The focused state is when your brain is concentrating on a specific task. The diffuse state is when you’re daydreaming or resting your mind, and that’s when a lot of processing happens, whether you’re aware of it or not.

“We’ve shown for the first time that how the brain processes information during rest can improve future learning,” says Allison Preston, associate professor of psychology and neuroscience at the University of Texas at Austin. “We think replaying memories during rest makes those earlier memories stronger, not just impacting the original content, but impacting the memories to come.”

She adds: “Nothing happens in isolation. When you are learning something new, you bring to mind all of the things you know that are related to that new information. In doing so, you embed the new information into your existing knowledge.”

9. Identify the functional meaning of the information

“What enters into a memory representation (what is encoded) is determined largely by the perceived functional meaning of an item, and this in turn determines which retrieval cues will be most effective for memory retrieval,” say researchers at the University of Oregon and Arizona State University.

This means that if we picture having a conversation about the subject of an article as we’re reading it, we’ll better remember the information since we’re creating a reason to remember it.

10. Use fear to your advantage

Researchers have found that when we’re trying to accomplish something, there are two parts to the motivation process. In the beginning, we’re motivated by wanting to succeed; towards the end, we’re motivated by not wanting to fail. First, we imagine all the rewards we could receive by accomplishing the goal: status, wealth, personal growth, social impact. Later, we are driven by the idea that we might not reach it, and that gives us an extra boost of momentum.

You might adopt this mindset earlier on in the learning process to keep motivation high.

We don’t need to be intimidated by what the future holds for our careers if we stay proactive and invested in our own preparation for it. Even before we decide which skills to master next, we can streamline our education by stepping back and examining the learning process first. The time you spend learning how to learn now will save you time in the future, when the deciding factor between you and another job candidate may not be how qualified you already are but how qualified you can become. 

If you want to future-proof your career and learn in-demand skills, Academy Xi offers a variety of online courses in Design, Business & Marketing and Tech & Data. 

For more information, check out a full list of our courses. If you have any questions, our experienced team is here to discuss your training options. Speak to a course advisor today and take the first steps in your skills development journey.

 

Author: Saga Briggs. Saga Briggs is a journalist, writer and editor covering trends in learning, creativity, intelligence, and educational technology. Follow her on LinkedIn and Twitter

Academy Xi Blog

Why the traditional corporate training model is broken (and three powerful fixes)

By Academy Xi

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It is well documented that investing in quality corporate training solutions can offer numerous benefits to organisations. Many offerings promise to support closing the digital skills gap, increasing staff retention, and boosting innovation and overall productivity. Unfortunately, the reality of many corporate training models is that while the participants might be ‘achieving’ new skills, often these new learnings aren’t translating into solid outcomes back at headquarters.

What’s the reason behind this disconnect?

At Academy Xi, we believe that the value of corporate training exists in the practical application of skills within the learning environment. Often, corporate training events offer single-dimensional products which focus on skills achievement, as opposed to the application of them while learning. While achievement might look good on paper, hands-on based training is what will result in a true return on investment and deliver the real-life outcomes needed for individuals and consequently organisations to thrive.

How to ensure the learning is integrated into your workplace post training? We have established three powerful fixes.

#1 Measure what matters

When it comes to learning and development, it is commonplace that senior management want to understand the following metrics:
  • Training cost per employee
  • Completion rates
  • Return on investment (ROI)
CEO’s want to know that the training is in alignment with organisational needs and supports the overall business strategy. However, when it comes to ROI, research shows that a large portion of organisations don’t evaluate the true outcomes of corporate training programs and therefore don’t gain an accurate insight, if any at all. This is often due to the evaluation not being prioritised – it consumes more time and resources that are already scarce within the business, yet it can ultimately result in wasted time and training budget. If you want to drive meaningful impact in training your workforce, it’s essential to be measuring and evaluating continually, with hard business metrics such as quantitative business-performance indicators, to honestly understand what is needed to elevate organisational performance. Which workforce trends do you need to engage to drive your organisation’s competitive edge and therefore what style and content of training will support this? The more detail you can gain from evaluating training outcomes, the clearer you will be on what is helping to deliver organisational success, or not. At Academy Xi, we focus on metrics that matter. We help your organisation to identify skills gaps and then tailor and design engaging, practical, hands-on training that truly aligns with critical business priorities.

Traditional training metrics (like ease of access to content and course completion rates) were meant to remove hurdles for employees. These should now be seen as table stakes.

Linda Cai. Vice President of Talent Development, LinkedIn

#2 Never go full generic

Sourcing quality hands-on training for teams will empower your people to be proactively engaged, which increases the level of information being retained. Individuals who get to apply their learning as they go within a setting that is closely designed to their workplace scenarios, will walk away with more confidence in their ability to apply their new knowledge meaningfully when they return to the work environment. Recent research revealed that people going into tech roles who invested in ‘traditional’ training approaches were less productive than those who participated in hands-on training in internship roles. In-training skills application also provides opportunities for learners to get immediate support and feedback from the industry experts leading the learning – which further aids the anchoring of new concepts. Ensuring that the training you invest in is run by industry practitioners is important, so you can be assured that you’re receiving proven practices, frameworks, and toolkits. Experiential training is by far the most effective approach to learning and development. Whichever training provider you select, do your research to discover as much as possible about their training approach so you can reap the benefits of hands-on learning for your workforce. Actively investing in employees with relevant training that boosts their digital skills is also vital in the current recruitment climate. Ensuring teams receive practical learning experiences will assist with retention of your staff.

#3 Application over achievement

Off the shelf training courses are all about skills achievement. While this might initially seem to be what your workforce needs, think again. If a learning experience is presented within a real-world context, you are setting your people up for success.

What is a real-world context?

Ultimately, ‘real world context’ is when training is created so that learners can carry out tasks and activities in a way that represents problem solving in their real world. Students are encouraged and supported to connect new learning within a frame of reference that reflects their workplace.

If content is king, then context is god!

Gary Vaynerchuk, Entrepreneur and CEO of VaynerMedia

While this quote originated from a marketing angle, it also carries weight when viewed through the training lens. If learners are actively participating in a training context that is very similar to the environment they need to apply it to in the real world the outcome of their performance, or application of the new learning, will be exponentially better.

If you want your workforce to do new things, give them an environment to learn and practice the new thing.

We worked closely with the Academy Xi team as our strategic design partner to co-design a customer-centric ‘Way Of Working’ framework, set of supporting capabilities and a guidebook containing tools and templates. Academy Xi contributed hugely to our program’s success

Carmelina Senese, Director of Customer Experience, EDConnect, Department of Education

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The bottom line

Skills application based training is the most effective learning and development approach organisations can invest in for genuine return on investment. By engaging with a training provider who focuses on metrics that matter to design learning experiences that reflect what your organisation truly needs to thrive, you will ensure your L&D budget does not go to waste.

Ready to transform your workforce from within?

Get in touch with the team at Academy Xi to discuss how we can support your workforce by designing bespoke training solutions that will meaningfully engage your people and impact your business bottom line. We can transform your workforce through the delivery of highly contextualised programs to suit individuals, teams, and organisational needs, all guided by world class experts.

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5 ways to make the most of your professional development budget

By Academy Xi

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It’s that time again where we are nearing the end of the financial year and for many organisations there is unused learning and development budget tucked away.

This isn’t simply a case of ‘use it or lose it’, but a golden opportunity to seriously consider where your workforce can truly benefit from upskilling and personal development training.

There’s also the reality that the ‘great resignation’ has hit Australian shores. Perceived to be spurred by the COVID-19 pandemic, rates of people quitting their jobs in the U.S hit a 20-year high at the end of 2021, with a lack of opportunities for advancement being stated as one of the main reasons for leaving roles. On local turf, recent findings from PwC Australia show that 38 percent of employees want to find a new job in the next year.

With all of this in mind, how can you meaningfully make the most of professional development budgets in the current climate? 

We’ve rounded up the following five ways to consider.

  1. Reflect on where you and your people want to go
  2. Select an in-demand skill
  3. Choose hands-on training
  4. Gain insights from mentors and managers
  5. Find training that serves professionally and personally

#1: Reflect on where you and your people want to go

For individuals, it’s important to consider which direction you see yourself moving in professionally. Take the time to clarify your short- and long-term goals in your current job, or the role you are aiming for in the future. Are there any skills that you need to learn to meet these goals, or at least work towards them? This process of reflection can help you to identify areas for further research.

For individuals and teams, digital skill gaps are always worth addressing and can help to future proof any role. There are upskilling courses for teams and individual employee development opportunities on the market, depending on the skills needed.

#2: Select an in-demand skill

Understanding the current skills that are in-demand in your industry can be a great way of identifying which areas you might like to focus on for your professional development training. Be open to the idea that a skillset worth gaining might not be something you have considered before. Digital skills, for instance, are in great demand across all industries and not only needed by I.T professionals. If you can harness the power of using company data effectively and learn how to visualise it, you will be an asset to any organisation. For those in learning and development management, empowering your people with data skills is one of the most strategic training decisions you can make right now.

#3: Choose hands-on training

Wherever possible, you want to invest your time and budget in training that gives you practical opportunities to practice your newfound skills as you are learning. This experiential approach will enable you to better retain new information and apply what you learn much more efficiently and effectively in your workplace environment. Better still, try to find training that supports you to use real life projects or scenarios from your current position as the basis for your learning.

Effective hands-on training doesn’t need to be face to face either. The last few years have seen a rapid increase in industry leading institutions migrating their offerings online. This enables flexibility for people to fit their training into their existing lifestyles and commitments. The key: search for best-in-class training where student success is prioritised.

#4: Gain insights from mentors and managers

Working with a mentor or manager can be a helpful approach to clarify any skills that could be beneficial for your career growth. Having an outside perspective from someone who is aware of the broader direction of the company or industry can give you insights into which direction to investigate, which can then influence learning and development opportunities.

It is also worth noting any positions within the company that you are interested in and discovering if it is possible for you to be seconded to that department or if some form of mentorship could be established to support you in learning more about that business function.

#5: Find training that serves professionally and personally

Perhaps there is an opportunity for you to upskill in a way that can support business needs and at the same time benefit your own personal interests. Is there a freelance business you would like to establish in addition to your in-house role that could gain traction from a new skill?

The Wrap Up

The importance of upskilling employees is vital to increase retention, motivation, and innovation and to ultimately equip your people for the future needs of the organisation.

Don’t let your own personal professional development budget go to waste, nor the learning and development budget of your teams. The benefits of upskilling for employees are well documented, with digital upskilling courses increasing in importance and popularity as many businesses recognise the digital skills gap within their ranks.

Need support in how to upskill your employees?

At Academy Xi, we understand how complex digital transformation can be. We help people thrive by training and supporting teams with the skills they need to stay ahead with genuine confidence, instead of being left behind. Our learning designers are experienced industry professionals and create customised programs that offer real, long-lasting change for individuals and teams.

Our training is offered at every level of experience, from introductory through to advanced and we ensure that our outcomes are highly practical so your teams can apply their new knowledge as quickly as possible back at HQ.

Don’t let your unused training budget go to waste

We’d love to discuss your organisation strategy for supporting upskilling and professional development. Get in touch with our team today and discover how we can design and deliver training to keep you thriving.

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Learning curve: The growth of online courses

By Academy Xi

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The pandemic’s closure of the bricks-and-mortar facilities used by schools, universities, academies and other institutions providing vocational courses has led learning and skills development to migrate online.

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In the lockdown landscape, education and skills development moved into the endless expanses of the digital space and the feeling is that large parts of the industry will set-up shop there permanently. Forbes boldly claims “it’s a fact that online learning is the future and will undoubtedly replace land-based learning.”

The world of online courses and skills development is one of boundless potential, whereby anyone can do anything at any place and time. Characterised by a mindset of ‘yes I can’, it’s the polar opposite of what the rest of the covid life’s been about – frozen to the spot (possibly eating ice cream in your gym gear) and ultimately feeling a bit limited by restrictions.

The thaw of covid’s deepfreeze on our everyday potential is finally setting in and you, like the rest of us, want more from the future, starting with your career.

Luckily, everything you need to make that future a now thing is right at your fingertips – fully digitised, instantly accessible, wherever and whenever.

It’s an inspiring position to be in, but how did we reach it? And crucially, what kind of an experience does an online course offer?

This blog will chart the growth of online learning in Australia and also explain what a digital course offers. Read on – we’ll help you do your homework on the emergence of online learning, so you can decide if amping-up your CV by adding an innovative skill set online is a good fit for your career ambitions and all round lifestyle.

The Online Learning Curve 

The statistics for online learning and skills development show that the industry was already on a steep upward trajectory long before lockdown. Forecasting for online education in early 2020 predicted growth of 21% across five years, with the industry anticipated to be worth $350 billion by 2025.

You won’t be surprised to learn that these numbers have soared in the past year. Following a covid-induced uptake in digital courses, Australian online education is now: 

  • Valued at a colossal $8 billion.
  • Made-up of 1,856 online course providers. 

Many online learning companies have set-up their services in response to a widening digital skills gap. The recent surge in online lifestyles and digital industries means that the nation’s workforce suddenly needs to be tech-savvy. 

This means educators have had to radically rethink and redesign the courses they offer, with: 

Currently, there’s a wide range of digital roles that are underserved and waiting to be claimed by skilled professionals. These are the kinds of jobs Australia needs to fill and the good news is, these are the roles many of you have your hearts set on. 

For a more detailed look at the perks of plying your trade in Australia’s booming digital industries, read our blog article on remote roles and ‘The Great Resignation’ that’s still sweeping through the world’s workforce. 

In a nutshell, lots of people have decided they want to work in remote roles and realised that qualifying for those roles remotely is the optimal way to prepare for industry demands and the everyday remit that awaits them.

With digital learning set only to expand and online skills development increasingly focused on designing and delivering improved student experiences, you’re probably wondering what advantages an online course offers.

The benefits of an online course

1. It’s flexible

Online learning often offers more compromise on coursework deadlines, meaning it’s easier to schedule your studies around the rest of your diary.

  • This means it’s possible to upskill for increased responsibility (or even a completely new career) while still carrying out your existing job. 
  • You can learn quickly or slowly, scaling the timeframe of your development according to your ambitions and personal circumstances.
  • Self-paced study requires good time management skills, which is always a useful professional attribute to develop. 
  • A flexible learning environment can also prompt you and your coursemates to accept new responsibilities and work with more autonomy. Again – these are qualities you’ll definitely need on the job.

If you’re looking to gain an in-demand digital skill set with maximum flexibility and study support, Academy Xi offers Self-Paced courses in: 

Built by industry experts, all of these courses also come with: 

→ 24/7 online access and no set deadlines

→ 1:1 sessions with your Course Expert 

→ A personal Study Coach who’ll help plan your progress and keep you motivated   

If you want to fast-track your next career move at times that work for you, this format might just do the trick.

2. It’s accessible

Online education enables you to study anywhere in the world. All that’s needed is a mobile device and a wifi connection and bam – you’ve got yourself a fully-connected virtual classroom!

  • There’s no need to commute from one place to another, or follow a rigid schedule of needing to be somewhere in particular. 
  • If you’re often mobile in your day-to-day life, online education means you can develop digital skills and still be ‘on the move’. 
  • If you’ve got the travel bug, there’s no reason to give up on studying while exploring new and exotic places (click submit on your final piece of coursework as you plant a flag on Everest’s summit, wifi strength pending).

3. It offers customised learning

The flexibility of online education and skills development not only enables you to set your own study pace, but is also adaptable for your individual requirements and level of ability.

  • Online classes tend to be smaller than conventional class sizes, allowing greater interactivity with your coursemates and teacher or mentor.
  • There’s often access to more diverse learning materials, such as videos, e-workbooks, eBooks, checkpoint tests, quizzes and infographics.
  • Online courses also integrate other forms of interaction, like forums, chat channels or discussion groups, maximising student engagement and development.
  • Online educators have a massive amount of user data which enables them to constantly improve platforms and course content based on feedback loops.

Plus, all this extra content is available at any moment, anywhere, which will offer you a more dynamic and tailor-made learning experience.

4. It’s cost-effective

Because online learning providers often have reduced overheads compared with traditional educators, course offerings can come at a reduced rate. Though the monetary investment is less, the results can be better than other options.

  • Unlike in-person education, online education tends to be more affordable. There’s normally a wider range of payment options that let you cover the cost in installments, allowing for better budget management.
  • You can also save money on commuting and learning materials (which most of the time are free, not to mention environmentally friendly!).

5. It offers a wide selection of up-to-date courses

In a space as vast and diverse as the internet, there’s an almost infinite array of skills to learn. The best online educators are innovative in their offerings, always updating a range of courses to better reflect the changing needs of industries that constantly evolve.

  • Traditional educators often follow long bureaucratic processes when updating or adding courses. Online educators tend to be more agile and responsive when it comes to delivering up-to-date skills that industries are actively searching for.
  • In considering online courses, you’ll widen your options and increase the chances of developing skills relevant to your career dreams and personal interests.

So, all this leads us to the inevitable million dollar question…

What online digital skills course should I study?

With so many digital skills courses available these days, narrowing down your options might seem like a bit of head-spinner. It’s also not a decision to take lightly.  

Udemy president Darren Shimkus says, “The biggest challenge for learners is to figure out what skills are emerging, what they can do to compete best in the global market. We’re in a world that’s changing so quickly that skills that were valued just three or four years ago are no longer relevant.” 

If you’re not sure what skills are in-demand and likely to stay that way – fear not, we’ve got your back again! 

To find out which skills are destined to be in high demand for the year ahead and way beyond, check out our blog article covering top digital skills needed to power-up your CV for 2022.  

Academy Xi courses are built and taught by industry experts, offering practical digital skills centred in three core fields of Design, Tech & Data and Business & Marketing, all of which are in rising demand with today’s recruiters. 

Our courses are bootcamp style, taught online and come in a range of flexible options, offering you the chance to build a professional profile for a career you’re passionate about at a time, place and pace that works well for you. 

Chat to one of our course advisors and we’ll help you find a course that’s a perfect fit for your ambitions, in a format that enables you to maintain that all-important study-life balance.  

After all, there’s more to life than just developing the latest digital skills (or at least that’s what everyone keeps telling us 😉 ). 

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