Adventures in Machine Learning

Online Learning for Adults: Choosing Courses Defining Learning Needs and Finding Your Learning Style

Introduction to Online Learning

Learning is a continuous process that does not stop even when an individual reaches adulthood. As an adult, one has the responsibility and freedom to pursue education to enhance their career or add new skills to their repertoire.

Online learning has made it possible for individuals to conveniently access courses of their choosing while balancing their personal and professional life. This article examines the importance of defining learning needs and how it helps in choosing a specific course.

We will also look at the various benefits of online learning.

Responsibility and Freedom as an Adult

As an adult, one has the responsibility to choose their career path and develop skills that will enhance their personal and professional life. The freedom that comes with being an adult also means that one can decide how to pursue their education without depending on their parents or institutions to make choices for them.

Online learning platforms provide adult learners the opportunity to choose courses tailored to their specific needs and interests. The freedom that comes with online learning accommodates the busy schedules of working adults.

One can learn at their own pace, anytime, and anywhere as the materials are available online 24/7. Online learning can also be personalized to meet the requirements of the individual.

All the resources, including books, articles, videos, and lectures, are readily available online.

Benefits of Online Learning

Online learning provides numerous benefits to individuals who want to pursue further education while managing their personal and professional lives. Here are some of the benefits of online learning:


Flexibility: Online courses provide freedom and flexibility to learners to complete the coursework at their own pace while balancing their professional and personal life. 2.

Diverse options: Online learning provides learners with access to a wider range of courses that may not be available to them locally. 3.

Affordability: Online learning is often more cost-effective than traditional on-campus learning, as learners save money on transportation and other expenses associated with traditional learning. 4.

No geographical barrier: Online learning provides an opportunity for learners from all parts of the world to access quality education from reputable institutions. 5.

Skill development: Online learning enables learners to develop new skills and progress in their current field of work.

Defining Learning Needs

Before enrolling in an online course, it is crucial to identify the learning needs of the individual. Determining learning needs allows learners to choose a course that meets their specific needs and interests.

Here are some reasons why defining learning needs is important:

1. To choose a course: Understanding learning needs helps learners to choose a course that aligns with their career goals, interests, and competence level.

2. To set goals: Defining learning needs assists learners in setting achievable learning goals that align with their learning objectives.

3. To create a customized learning plan: Identifying learning needs enables learners to develop a personalized learning plan that accommodates their schedules, preferred mode of learning, and available resources.

Deciding on a Specific Course

After establishing the learning needs, the next step is to decide on a specific course. Here are some factors to consider when choosing an online course:


Course objective: The course objective should align with the learning needs and career goals of the learner. 2.

Course content: The course content should be comprehensive and tailored to the needs of the learner. 3.

Course delivery method: The delivery method should accommodate the preferred mode of learning of the learner. 4.

Course cost: The cost of the course should be affordable, and the learner should get value for their investment. 5.

Interactivity: The course should be interactive, offering opportunities for learners to engage with the instructor and other learners.


In conclusion, online learning provides adult learners with flexibility, diverse options, affordability, and skill development opportunities. Defining learning needs is crucial to choosing a specific course that meets an individual’s needs and interests.

Considering the objective, content, delivery method, cost, and interactivity of a course assists in choosing the right course. Online learning provides an opportunity for individuals to pursue their education while managing their professional and personal lives.

Choosing the Right Course

Online learning offers adult learners the flexibility to choose courses that align with their interests, career goals, and lifestyle. However, selecting the right course can be challenging, especially when there are numerous options available.

Here, we will explore how trying different courses and considering time constraints can help an individual choose the right course for them.

Trying Different Courses

It is common for adult learners to feel unsure about what course to take. In such situations, trying different courses can help them identify the courses that align with their interests, skills, and career goals.

Most online learning platforms offer free short-term courses that one can try to determine if they like the subject matter and course structure. Trying different courses also exposes learners to new experiences and broadens their knowledge base.

Additionally, learners can join online learning communities to get insights and recommendations on courses that align with their interests. Through such communities, learners can ask questions and get advice from other learners who have been through the course selection process.

Online learning communities can also help learners to develop a better understanding of the various subject domains and the prerequisites for different courses.

Considering Time Constraints

Another factor to consider when choosing an online course is time. Time management is crucial when studying online as learners need to balance coursework with their professional and personal life.

Choosing a course with a flexible study schedule allows learners to manage their time efficiently. Online courses can take different lengths of time, and learners should consider how much time they can allocate to the course per week.

It is essential to choose a course that fits into a learner’s schedule to enable them to keep up with the workload. Therefore, learners should evaluate the time commitment required for each course to ensure they can allocate sufficient time without affecting their other obligations.

Setting SMART Goals

Once a learner chooses a course, they should establish specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART) goals to ensure they achieve their set objectives. SMART goals are essential as they help learners to focus on their learning objectives and manage their progress towards achieving them.

Here are some factors to consider when setting SMART goals:

Definition of SMART Goals

SMART goals are defined by the following characteristics:

1. Specific: The goals should be clear, concise, and well-defined to give learners a clear understanding of what they should achieve.

2. Measurable: The goals should be quantifiable to enable learners to track their progress effectively.

3. Achievable: The goals should be realistic and attainable based on the learner’s skills, knowledge, resources, and time available.

4. Relevant: The goals should align with the learner’s interests, career goals, learning objectives and contribute to their personal and professional growth.

5. Time-bound: The goals should have a deadline, ensuring learners have a sense of urgency and can track their progress towards achieving them.

Creating a Specific and Achievable Learning Goal

Creating a specific, achievable learning goal requires learners to evaluate their skills, interests, and career goals. Here are some tips on creating effective and achievable learning goals:


Evaluate strengths and weaknesses: Learners should evaluate their strengths and weaknesses in the course subject matter and set goals that will enhance their knowledge and skills in the areas they need improvement. 2.

Align goals with career objectives: Learning goals should align with learners’ career objectives and provide skills that will enhance their employability in specific fields. 3.

Set realistic deadlines: Setting deadlines helps learners to track progress towards achieving their learning objectives and motivates them to keep working towards their goals. 4.

Break goals into smaller objectives: Breaking down larger goals into smaller objectives makes them more manageable and allows learners to regularly assess progress towards achieving their learning objectives.


Choosing the right course can be a daunting task, but by trying different courses and considering time constraints, learners can make informed decisions. Setting SMART goals enables learners to focus on the essential aspects of their learning objectives and achieve them effectively.

Choosing the right course and establishing achievable goals is essential for adult learners who want to pursue their personal and professional growth through online learning.

Finding and Using Learning Styles

Learning styles refer to the different ways that individuals prefer to learn, process, and retain information. Recognizing and understanding your learning style can help you customize your learning approach, which can improve your comprehension, retention, and overall success rate.

In this article, we will discuss the theory of multiple intelligences and how it relates to learning styles, as well as how to customize your learning approach.

Theory of Multiple Intelligences

The theory of multiple intelligences was developed by Howard Gardner, and it suggests that intelligence is made up of various components. Gardner identified nine different types of intelligence, including:



2. Verbal/Linguistic



4. Bodily/Kinesthetic



6. Interpersonal



8. Naturalist



The different types of intelligence suggest that individuals have different modes of learning. For instance, auditory learners may prefer to learn through listening, while visual learners may prefer to learn through diagrams or images.

Similarly, logical learners may prefer to use logic and reasoning to understand concepts, while interpersonal learners may prefer to learn through group discussions and collaborations.

Customizing Learning Approach

Once you have identified your learning style, you can customize your learning approach by choosing the most appropriate learning resources, tools, and techniques. Here are some tips for customizing your learning approach:


Use a range of resources: Using a diversity of resources, such as videos, podcasts, ebooks, and webinars, can help you to engage with the information in various ways, which can improve your comprehension and retention. 2.

Utilize technology: Technology offers various resources such as interactive learning tools, adaptive learning platforms, and virtual environments that learners can use based on their learning style. 3.

Take frequent breaks: Taking regular breaks helps you to reflect on the material you have learned, process the information, and recharge, which is especially important if you are working on a complex topic. 4.

Engage in group work: Work in groups helps learners who prefer social learning to share ideas, communicate and learn from each other. 5.

Use self-evaluations: Self-evaluations, such as quizzes and self-reflection exercises, are useful tools for evaluating your understanding of the topic. Rest, Motivate, Reward, and Repeat

Learning can be challenging and stressful, but it can also be rewarding.

In this regard, rest, motivate, reward, and repeat are essential elements to keep in mind as you embark on your learning journey.

Importance of Taking Breaks

Taking breaks is essential to rest your mind and will help you stay focused and engaged during learning activities. Taking regular breaks keeps you from burning out and can improve your overall mood and productivity.

Motivation and Overcoming Challenges

Motivation is a crucial factor for success in online learning. When motivation levels are high, learners are engaged and focused on their studies.

Finding sources of motivation, such as affirmations, support from family and friends, and engaging in extracurricular activities, can help learners overcome challenges and stay focused on their goals.

Rewarding Oneself

Rewarding oneself for completing tasks and achieving milestones is essential in maintaining motivation and staying focused. Rewards could range from something as simple as taking a break, going for a walk, or treating yourself to something you enjoy.

Repeat and Revise

Effective learning is a process, and that means repeating and revising the learned material. Repetition and revision help learners retain information and improve their chances of success.


Customizing your learning approach to match your learning style, taking breaks, staying motivated, rewarding yourself, and revising are crucial elements that can improve your learning experience. Understanding your learning style and adjusting your approach is an important factor that promotes effective learning, and helps learners achieve their overall goals.

By incorporating rest, motivation, rewarding yourself, and repetition, learners can improve their retention, comprehension, and success in online studying. Online learning provides a flexible and accessible way for adults to improve themselves personally and professionally while balancing their other commitments.

To choose the right course, one must first recognize their personal learning style, evaluate their learning needs, and consider their time constraints. It is also important to set SMART goals, customize the learning approach, take breaks, stay motivated, and reward oneself along the way.

Effective learning is an ongoing process, not a one-time event, and requires the use of various resources and tools. Ultimately, when implementing these strategies, adult learners will gain the most out of their online learning experience, achieve their learning objectives, and improve their overall skills and competencies.

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