4 habits of highly motivated learners

Students who stop out on their online courses risk missing out on potential career benefits, Mike Kehoe writes for the Harvard Business Review. Kehoe is cofounder of BitTiger, a lifelong learning platform aimed at Silicon Valley professionals.

About 72% of learners who complete an online course experience career benefits such as finding a new job or getting a promotion, according to a survey from Coursera. And as automation continues to disrupt the workplace, students must build the habit of lifelong learning now in order to be competitive tomorrow.

Luckily, students have a wide variety of online learning platforms to choose from. But as enrollment in online courses grows, so does attrition, says Philip DiSalvio, a dean at the University of Massachusetts Boston.

Drawing from his experience working in online education, Kehoe identifies four strategies students can adopt to make the most out of their online course experience.

1: Pursue in-demand skills. To keep their skill sets up to date, highly motivated learners research trends and emerging skills in their fields. Students can check recent job postings or reach out to professionals working in their industry to get a sense of what skills they would need to become a competitive candidate, Kehoe writes.

Lifelong learning—and 4 other skills students need to prepare for the future workforce

2: Find a buddy. In Kehoe's experience, learners are more likely to stick to an online course if there's an element of live interaction. If synchronous MOOCs aren't available, learners can take an online course with a friend and hold each other accountable, he recommends.

3: Practice. Students who don't practice what they're learning online are more likely to forget the material, Kehoe writes. Students can test out their new skills at work or on a personal project, he suggests.

4: Set a specific career goal. In the short term, the benefits of taking an online course can be difficult to determine, Kehoe writes. But a long-term career objective, like a specific position or promotion, can help online learners stay focused and persist, he explains (Kehoe, Harvard Business Review, 2/7).

Also see: Use proactive, well-timed communication to promote online education persistence


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