If you’ve resolved to learn some new skills in 2013 then these simple tips will help you get the most out of the time, money and energy you invest in improving your skills.
Online training can be amazing. Personally I love it, a lot. Used well it is a great way to learn the fundamentals of a new software program or recreate some of cool things you’ve seen other people do.
If you’re a self starter and don’t mind putting aside some of your valuable time to really get into the training you’ll definitely reap far more than you sow. But as they say, the road to hell is paved with good intentions and it is very easy to simply buy the training, download it and feel good about how ‘one day’ you’ll learn all that good info. These 5 tips for online training may seem obvious, but if you follow them you’ll be well on your way to expanding your skill set.
1. Break It Up
A lot of online training is pretty extensive, often being 7, 8, 10 hours in length. It’s great that you’re really getting a decent bang for your buck, but that’s quite a lot to get through, take in and digest. Personally I try to go through a couple of hours at a stretch and then my brain feels pretty full.
Doing a little more often is a better way to really take it all in. Set a schedule for working through the training, maybe an hour or two every few days. Be consistent. This will ensure that you don’t burn yourself out in one sitting and actually follow through with your training investment.
2. Follow Along
Don’t just sit there passively watching the instructor clicking away and making it look very easy. A lot of online training come with downloadable project files which allow you to follow along with them, doing what they’re doing at the same time. By doing this you’ll take in far more of the training than if you only just watch it.
This is why I like watching tutorials on my home set up as it has two monitors, one for the training and one for me to follow along. It also helps to be able to replicate (or fail to and figure out why) what they are doing as the first way to learn the software or technique, rather than trying to adapt what they’re doing to your project on the first go around.
3. Take Notes
Taking notes might feel like a throw back to school days, but its one of the best ways to really take in what you’re learning (as you have to understand it, interpret it and scribble it). It also means that when you want to quickly jump to the bit of information you want, you don’t have to scroll through the other 5 minutes of video to find it. It’s right there at your finger tips.
4. Adapt the Techniques to Your Work
The point of training is to learn general techniques that you can then adapt and use in your real world scenarios, not just only replicating the instructors specific example time and time again. While going through training exercises be thinking of how you can adapt the processess and techniques to your own work. Successfully applying these fundamentals to your projects will be the true measure of whether you have truly learned anything.
Knowing that you’re not going to take it all in on the first time around is a good way to start, as it frees you up to go back and dip in for refreshers as many times as you need to. Going back to your notes (it’s important to make them in the first place) is the shortcut to this. If your notes are insufficient, keep re-watching and updating your notes as you go.
Online Training Resources for Video Pros
Sites that have everything - Lynda.com, Creative Cow, Class on Demand, Video2brain, Macprovideo. All of these sites have a vast wealth of online training for different programs, from Microsoft Office to Lightroom, plus all other usual suspects. Creative Cow has a huge range of entirely free training, so maybe check there first. Some of these sites operate on a subscription basis where you can access everything they have.
Here is a handy list of some other places you might want to check out for some free, and paid for, training, products and tips.
So that’s my list, I’m sure I’ve missed some great sites – so why not add to everyone’s learning by commenting below with some of your favourite learning sites.