Like so many in the 21st century, you have chosen to advance your education and career by enrolling in an online course. Next step—make the new learning environment work for you. Here are some not-so-modern pointers and some modern considerations to maximize your learning, whether you’re studying for a career in insurance, real estate, or medical coding, or even preparing for an IT certification, like CEH or CCNA: Learn the broad outline of your course. Whether you’re studying in a mortar-and-brick setting or an online environment from this initial step is not only recommended, it’s necessary. Getting to know your course gives you a good idea of what you can expect from the course and what you are expected to accomplish by the end of the course. To do this, you will need to know the following: course description, course objectives, course requirements, course credits, tests, technology requirements, and course trainer contact information. Learn how to navigate the online course environment. Even if you’ve been using the Internet for a while now, it still pays to know your way around your online course environment. Unfortunately, there is no universal course environment. Each online course provider tends to have its own custom version. So before you formally start your course, make sure to look around, navigate, and be familiar with the all the menus, fields, and buttons. If you have questions, contact your course trainer, pronto. Learn how to do it online. Of course, the basic skills of learning are the same whether the environment is a traditional classroom or online classroom. However, the tools are very different, so the learning strategies that you need to adopt are different too. A common strategy advocated by many educational institutions that provide online courses is to be where the action is—in this case, the forum, blog, or Facebook page where online collaborations take place between fellow students. Learn how to express yourself and contribute in these virtual arenas. Learning online is also an exercise in learning new tools. Learn how to manage your time. That’s a pre-Internet study maxim, but it still holds true in the time of Facebook, Twitter, and Google. In fact, it’s more difficult to focus now with distractions such as Facebook ready to tempt you at the slightest hint of weakness. So help yourself by turning off the usual online distractions during study time. And speaking of study time, make sure to devote a specific number of hours to study and set deadlines for both intermediate goals (finishing Chapters 1-4, for instance) and major goals (completing, say, the whole course in less time than required). You have to crack the whip on yourself for both minor and major goals—and against procrastination, too. Learn to avoid technical hitches. The best way to avoid technical hitches is to prevent them from happening in the first place. Of course, there’s no guarantee that any pre-emptive measure would work perfectly, but investing on current, quality equipment is perhaps the nearest you could get to a perfect solution. Though make sure that what you’re buying is up to the minimum specs required by your education provider. Acquiring current hardware is always a good way to do that because almost all online education providers have minimalist requirements anyway.