Q & As with E-learning 101 author, Dr Liz Hardy
What makes this book different from all the other e-learning books out there?
It’s the friendliest online study guide around. It will make you smile as you learn.
It proves that e-learning is not as difficult as it looks, by giving you practical strategies that solve your biggest e-learning problems right away.
I think too many books make e-learning look harder than it is. I’m here to show you that online learning is achievable for most people.
How did you decide what to include and how to organize it?
I’ve worked with around 3,000 online learners so far, so I simply spent a lot of time listening to them.
Online learners come from all walks of life, but often they have very similar problems. It doesn’t seem to matter whether you’re young and trying to work out what to do with your life, a professional who’s studying to get a promotion, or a busy parent with about 10 spare seconds a week.
Procrastination, finding time to study, and staying motivated are some of the key problems that most online learners struggle with.
So I focused on those recurring e-learning problems, and developed some fast and effective solutions that will work for all kinds of online students.
Q: Why are there dogs on every page of ElearningTrainer.com and throughout E-learning 101?
The e-learning resources I write are different from the other stuff that’s out there, and the dogs help to express that.
I like to keep things simple and add a touch of humour. Most other websites or books about e-learning take it all so seriously, and make online learning look harder than it is.
Don’t get me wrong, I think getting an education is one of the most important things you can do for yourself. In many ways, it is a very serious business. But that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy yourself while you learn.
So the dogs are there to remind people that e-learning is a positive thing – and it might even be fun!
Which part of the book did you enjoy the most?
Each part of the writing process is entirely different.
I like the early writing phase because it’s so satisfying to see your ideas take solid shape. This part is the hardest work, though – it reminds me of that wonderful quote about writing:
“Writing is easy. All you do is stare at a blank piece of paper until drops of blood form on your forehead” (Gene Fowler).
So after I’ve cleaned up all the blood, I move onto the editing phase. I try not to edit as I write because it stops the ideas flowing. I really enjoy going back over the drafts, smoothing out the rough bits, and making the sentences clear and pretty. (Obviously, the nerd genes are strong in me!)
And with this book, there was a third phase – finding just the right doggy pictures to express each key idea. This phase was so much fun and totally addictive. My husband would keep catching me on the internet and say, “You’re not still looking at doggies are you?” But I had to find just the right ones, and that takes time!
Tell us about your interest in education.
For a really long time I just didn’t get the value of education. I hated high school, and dropped out when I was 16. That led to some truly horrific dead end jobs, and the weird feeling I was stuck in some trashy movie, acting out scenes from an appalling script. In complete desperation, I applied for university. When I got in, everything changed for the better. Suddenly I understood why education is so exciting, and is such a force for good.
These days I write my own life script! I love my e-learning work – it’s such a pleasure to help people improve their lives through something as simple as taking an online course.
What’s the one thing that you need to be successful at online learning?
That’s a hard one, because there are lots of qualities that will make your e-learning experience easier.
If I had to pick just one, it would probably be to have a clear, strong understanding of your motivation to study. When you know why you’re enrolling in your online course and what you want to get out of it, many of the other parts will fall into place.
For example, if you’re highly motivated to finish a course, you’ll also be motivated to set aside time to study, to meet assignment deadlines and all the other things you need to do to pass the course. So that’s a good place to start.
Can you describe the perfect online learner?
Not really! No-one’s perfect – especially while they’re in the middle of the learning process!
Some people are more naturally suited to e-learning than others, for sure. If you’re confident with technology, well-organised, clear about your learning goals and have enough time to study, you’ll likely sail through your course.
But most people need help with one or more of these things! That’s pretty normal, and in fact a lot more common than the “ideal learner”.
If you could give someone just one piece of advice about their first online learning experience, what would that be?
Never, ever panic. E-learning gets easier and easier the more you do it.