Expert Tips for Online Learning at Home

By BrainStation March 24, 2020

In 2019, BrainStation expanded our online learning options – which we call Online Live – making online digital skills training accessible to learners around the world. 

Online Live has since delivered over 150,000 hours of live online instruction to Learners in 50 cities and 17 countries around the world. The future of education, we believe, is online, and the challenges presented by the COVID-19 outbreak have made that increasingly clear. 

There is evidence to back up that belief. A survey of 1,000 online student learners found that 91 percent said it improved their professional life and 93 percent said it improved their resume. Clearly, online education can have an impact on career success but it can be an adjustment for those more familiar with in-person learning.  

If you’re considering taking an online course, or have just started your online training, here are some expert tips for online learning from home.


Develop new digital skills to boost your career – from home!

BrainStation offers Online Live Certificate Courses in data, design, development, marketing, and product management. Attend live classes and interact with Instructors and peers from anywhere in the world.

Speak to a Learning Advisor

Optimizing Your Learning Space

Find a Quiet Space with no Distractions

The general consensus among professionals working from home is to find a dedicated workspace. The same applies to those looking to study from home. Find yourself a space that can be dedicated to your online course, and make sure it’s a quiet, well-lit spot that you know you’ll be able to concentrate in. 

“Our most successful students tend to be those that have taken the time to create a dedicated study space that is comfortable and free from distraction,” says Trevor Martin, Digital Marketing Instructor at BrainStation. “Having a separate space reserved for your studies can also help you stay on top of your work and stay motivated in the same that going to a classroom would.”

Make Sure you Have a Strong Internet Connection

Nothing interrupts an online lesson like a bad internet connection. If you find your internet is not strong enough at home, look into options at your local library or a nearby co-working space. You might find that colleges or universities in your city have a library open to the public that will be popular amongst those looking for a quiet place to study. 

Use a Dual Monitor if Available 

Having two monitors is a nice-to-have when learning online. It allows you to see the instructor and classmates while also taking notes, testing out the curriculum, or referring to the deck slides. While this may not be necessary, if you do have a second monitor or tablet to display the course material, this is a good use case for it. 

Treat It Like an In-Person Class 

Dress for Success

We all know that pyjamas are comfortable and relaxing, but that relaxed approach can have an impact on your mindset and motivation. Just like going to an in-person class with other ambitious professionals, you’ll want to dress for success. And besides, dressing the part will save you any embarrassment if you unexpectedly have to answer the door during the class while on camera. 

Turn on the Camera

One of the real advantages of an online live course is the ability to work with your classmates and get real-time feedback from your Instructor. Keeping your webcam on allows you to stay attentive to your fellow learners and signal your engagement. 

“I always ask Learners to keep their cameras on. It’s a much more personal and engaging experience that way, and I can more easily see which content is resonating, and when it might be time for a break,” Martin says. 

Ask Questions

If you need clarity on something, chances are one of your classmates does too. The benefit of Online Live is that you have an Instructor who can immediately help clear up any questions you might have. 

“Don’t be shy to ask questions when learning online, especially when it’s live online instruction. This is an opportunity to talk through ideas with an industry expert – take advantage of it! The other idea to remember is that questions often lead to engaging class discussions about real-life experiences and applications, all of which will improve you overall learning experience,” Martin says. 

Take Notes

Don’t use online learning as an excuse to just sit back and listen. Most people retain information better when writing it down or translating it into their own words. In fact, according to Professor Walter Paulk at Cornell, only 10 percent of an audio lecture will remain in memory, but students who take and review notes can recall up to 80 percent of a lecture. 

If you’re using a second monitor, use it to take notes or keep a notebook and pen beside you to jot down key points and ideas.

Make the Most Out of Technology

Participate in class forums

Many online learning courses and programs use messaging systems to encourage collaboration and communication. BrainStation, for example, uses breakout rooms and Slack channels to connect students with their Instructors and classmates. 

Apart from being a great tool to get feedback on your work, these channels can be a fantastic resource for finding and sharing content. For example, during a Data Analytics course, students might share interesting data visualizations they came across in the news that day.

“Some of the best projects I’ve seen were born in class Slack channels,” says Martin. “Someone suggests an idea and people get excited about helping that person make it come to life.” 

Use Zoom and Other Collaboration Tools for Group Work

As many in the press have noted, we are currently engaging the world’s largest work-from-home experiment. It seems likely that when a level of normalcy returns to the world, remote work will become more commonplace. There is a secondary benefit to online learning, therefore, as it can provide a great opportunity to familiarize yourself with many of the leading digital collaboration and project management tools, like Zoom. 

These tools are also an easy way for you to stay connected with your classmates and track progress on group work. Try setting up a standard weekly touchpoint with your group members to keep yourself on track. 

Expand Your Network

Each learner will have different motivations for enrolling in an online course, but a real benefit may get overlooked is the ability to expand your network. For example, Max Smilie, the Regional Community Lead at Lululemon, took a BrainStation Certificate Course to become more data-savvy and ended up meeting like-minded professionals around the world. 

“The people who are in the classes are all working to better themselves and are real go-getters; it felt like a family and I think that’s what made the class so special,” he said. 

To take the networking opportunity a step further, take notes about people’s roles and learning objectives and ask a few for 15-minute virtual “coffee chats” throughout the course. Also, make sure to add the connections you make on LinkedIn to stay in touch after the class. 


BrainStation offers Online Live courses in data, design, marketing, development and product management. Speak with a Learning Advisor.