Technology has forever changed the world we live in. We're online, in one way or another, all day long. Our phones and computers have become reflections of our personalities, our interests, and our identities. They hold much that is important to us. - James Comey
Today, the internet is ubiquitous. It has come so central to people's lives that 24 hours without internet for many would mean a day turned upside down. According to a survey undertaken by the Office for National Statistics, in the first three months of 2017, 89% of adults in the UK had recently used the internet whilst 99% of people aged 16 to 34 years were recent internet users.
It is possible to find almost any resource you need via the internet. Why not the make the most of it and also use it as a platform for learning to master the ins and outs of the interweb.
IT for beginner's, improvers or advanced - whatever level of learner you are, there will be something to suit you. Whatever computing knowledge you are looking to acquire, there will be an accredited online education institution waiting for you to enroll!
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Advantages of Taking Online IT Courses
Learning to use a computer and all that it entails (basic computer commands, the internet, software, multimedia, designing, etc.) can sometimes take time and very often demand concentration.
This is why many learners use online resources as a way of finding information on how to become an IT pro. But what are the advantages of learning IT online rather than a more traditional learning experience with face to face tuition with a qualified instructor and exams, coursework, etc.?
Do free online courses and online degree programs mean you are less likely to succeed in your chosen computer-based profession than those studying on traditional graduate degree programs or even postgraduate university courses such as doctoral degrees offered by brick and mortar higher education institutions?
Of course not! Very often online programs and training courses can equip you with all the IT knowledge and skills that you need for the profession.
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Have a look at our guide to the best schools to study computer science.
Learn at Your Own Pace
Searching on the internet, learning to make one's own website, managing a blog and editing and uploading videos - it is now possible to do so much online now to digital advancements, online tutorials and online instructional videos and lectures.
A number of videos and forms of interactive online classes exist on the web. Many are geared towards IT enthusiasts and can help you to study different ICT subject areas.
Just find computer-based subjects that you enjoy and gain the professional skills you need to turn them into a career!
Another one of the benefits of following this type of online course curriculum is that you can continue and further your studies by working as quickly or as slowly as you would like to.
Motivation is the driving engine behind any kind of learning.
The chance to work at a moment that is convenient for you (work has finished/not too late and you are not too sleepy etc.) will ensure that your brain is able to remain concentrated for longer periods of time.
Learning What You Want
'What a girl wants, what a girl needs...', so goes the famous song by Britney Spears. However, the lyrics not only apply to one's love life but could just as easily apply for one's search for online IT lessons.
Programming languages (java programming), cybersecurity, computer technology, business communication, algorithms, internet browser, networking, Powerpoint, OpenOffice, free software, computer systems, etc. - the program of study and curriculum needed to become an accomplished IT and computer expert can sometimes turn out to be a long and fastidious process.
For some, it will be necessary to learn all the functions of a computer before starting out on an online course.
The advantage of online IT courses is that they offer students the chance to choose exactly what they want to in terms of the IT skills they have already acquired and their learning goals.
However, computer courses have the advantage of letting you ask questions and get feedback from a qualified tutor.
Get a private IT tutor and learn at you own space.
Learning Through Practice
So that lesson content imparted during online IT lessons is properly absorbed by online learners, it is essential for the students to put into practice what they have learned. The great thing about learning online is that you can immediately try out and practice the elements of the course that you have just been taught by your online teacher or fellow online learners.
There are of course some disadvantages to learning online.
For example, you are not able to directly interact face to face with other students and the teacher, having conversations as you would in a classroom to further your learning - you are effectively self-taught.
What's more, it is important to allocate some regular time each week and stick to a specific timetable to ensure that you do not let your study time slide and slow down your IT learning progress.
Being effectively self-taught through an online computer course can be a challenge, but remember, nothing is impossible!
How to Find Computer Courses Online?
Are you ultra motivated to become familiar with all the main bases of IT but do not know where to find the right course that corresponds to your needs?
There are a number of options available to you if you are looking to learn online from the comfort of the sofa in your front room!
Knowing that e-learning is now more and more common and that it has become very easy to access quality content online. However, now that there is such a huge amount of choice when it comes to online computer courses, locating a good course or courses for your studies can sometimes be a challenge in itself.
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First and foremost, it is probably worth looking at free IT online learning courses.
Some internet sites are entirely dedicated to helping you with your computing learning. Learning to code, to upload/view/edit/download a video, learning graphic design, learning how internet networks work and have a range of resources all available online.
Obviously, being free courses, they are usually not the best quality.
In a nutshell, as soon as you see a course is free, you should have a look who it was created by.
Some lessons can actually be really informative and come from professionals who work in the IT industry (computer engineers, IT experts, systems integrators, programmers, web developers, ICT teachers, computer scientists, IT technicians, webmasters, computer maintenance repair specialists, etc.).
Sometimes content is also written or filmed by amateur IT enthusiasts who are actually very competent and know what they are talking about in the field of IT.
However, many free lessons are simply posted online with the aim of making money thanks to adverts on the webpage.
Whatever the content, whether it is IT related or something completely different, such as, humanities, psychology, mathematics, criminal justice, science courses, etc., just make sure that you do not start wading through free online content with too optimistic an approach and be conned by titles like 'learn to code in 2 hours'. Even if you are a natural and find computer coding not as difficult as it seems, it will still take time to master the different computing languages.
Look on online platforms like YouTube. A lot of people post IT tutorials (learn to program, or lessons in using computers for admin purposes, using the internet, making a PowerPoint presentation, analysing data, etc.) in order to learn a few of the fundamental areas of IT.
Try to come up with a desired program of study once you have watched a few videos.
You could always turn to paid courses later on. Some sites sell packs or blocks of tutorials which may be helpful. But as always, make sure you check carefully by whom they were created. For example, you can be assured that tutorials on Adobe software that have been filmed by reputable companies such as Adobe will be of a high quality and worth the money.
Read around to see what other learners have to say about the courses before purchasing and look carefully at the course content to make sure it meets your requirements.
There is also another formula for learning information technology online - having 1 on 1 coaching sessions with a private online tutor via a shared screen.
This is very often a good compromise between having a private face to face tutor and teaching oneself.
Whatever path you decide to go down, it is always advisable to carefully look at the program of study to see that the learning outcomes are clear and match your desired targets. The program of study should be explained clearly with practical titles detailing each area to be covered.
What Equipment do I Need for IT Online Learning?
Learning IT lessons at home can be very practical, but only if you have the right materials. Computer, software, accessories and the knowledge to set them up and use them.
Which Computer to Choose?
If you are starting IT lessons, you will probably already have a personal computer within arms reach. Given that using a computer has become such a staple part of life, most people will already have one in their homes.
But are all types of computer and laptop adequate enough to manipulate information, use software and complete all the functionalities needed for a professional IT course?
Well, it will all depend on what subject matter you would like to cover in your classes and the existing equipment and software you already have. Despite laptop technology significantly improving in recent years, desktop computers are very often still more powerful and tend to have a greater amount of memory than laptop computers.
To ensure that your computer is able to handle all the software that you will need to install onto it, make sure that you check not only how much space is left on the device but also how much RAM it possesses. Having a sufficient amount of RAM is important because your computer will support a large amount of software without slowing down greatly.
You could conservatively aim to have around 8 gigabytes of RAM before the start of the course in order to guarantee use of software and computer functionalities run smoothly during your lessons and waiting for the computer to react does not cut into your lesson time.
If you do not have all the basic Microsoft software (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, etc), you can always use free versions of these types of text and data manipulation programs that have similar functionalities, for example, Google Spreadsheets and WordPad.
Nowadays, a lot of software is available to purchase via a monthly or annual subscription. Paintshop Pro, Photoshop, Lightroom, etc, are all rather expensive and you should, therefore,e plan to allocate a budget for the purchase of such programs to be certain that you will be able to get your hands on the necessary software for practical use during the course.
But don't panic! If you do not particularly want to shell out for expensive software subscriptions, you could always turn to free software such as gimp and Free Open Office in your hour of need!
Not all computer accessories are completely indispensable when it comes to learning IT online. You can easily learn how to create and set up a website or learn to code simply by using a computer with internet access and nothing else (apart from a mouse, keyboard and monitor, obviously!).
However, if you are lacking space on your computer or simply want to back up your files for extra security then you would do well to purchase an external hard drive.
Tips for Improving Your IT Skills Through Online Computer Courses
Improving your IT skills is not always easy without the presence of a teacher who is there to correct you or help you fix certain issues or bugs you may come across.
However, with a bit of motivation and hard work, it is still completely possible to make good progress in your online IT training and become a veritable expert in all things digital!
Getting the skills you need through a distance learning course, an online course, a MOOC or any other form of e-learning that teachers the skills you need to program, code or whatever else you may require in order to become a computer engineer or work as an IT maintenance specialist is completely feasible and doable!
Regular IT Online Learning
The most important part of e-learning and the first thing you should do before you start your course or program of learning is to create a timetable of when you will study and stick to it. You will need to take regular online classes or watch tutorials at the same time each week or even every day in order to guarantee that you reach your learning targets.
It is better to learn small nuggets of information every day rather than to have marathon e-learning sessions once every three months!
You will retain a lot more of the information that you learned during your study sessions if you are learning regularly. What's more, you should not overload your brain with too much information in one go - like most things, little and often is the key to success!
Set Yourself E-Learning Targets
One of the first conditions for study success is that you should know from the outset where you want to go with your IT learning. Learning to code, for example, is not necessary for successfully editing videos.
So unless you are a true IT and tech enthusiast, make sure you study only the essential areas that will help you reach your targets to avoid wasting time and brainpower!
Before starting your course, define your targets and the level that you would like to acquire. This will help to keep you motivated and stop your studies falling by the wayside!
Write a list of all the things you would like to learn (using the internet, Outlook Express and email, algorithms, Microsoft Word, computer programing, computer networks, computer architecture, Java, cryptography, digital and IT technologies etc).
Check out our complete guide to learning computer science.
Do Regular Practical IT Exercises
Don't forget that just because you don't have a physical teacher to get on your back about doing homework does not mean that you should not give yourself regular practical computer exercises to go over during the course of your online IT training. Try to set yourself targets, like learning the A-Z of creating a web page. This will help you to cover several areas at once, for example, computer coding, but also graphic design and cybersecurity.
It might even prove to be fun and useful at the same time!
IT tools, IT project management, antivirus, becoming familiar with Python, etc. - these are all good exercises that will help you to progress quickly.
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