Online courses are increasingly popular, both in the B2B and B2C markets. That is not surprising given the global situation.

What’s perhaps a little bit more surprising is that students are not making the most of it.

There are a number of mistakes they are making when taking online courses. For now, I am going to focus on the biggest four.The 4 Biggest Mistakes Students Make With Online Courses

Mistake #1 – Not managing their time effectively

This is all about time management.

With some students, they are simply not allocating enough time to work their way through the course, to get everything just right.

There may be assignments to do. You might be on a drip-fed course where a new lesson is released regularly, perhaps every other day, and in between, you need to do things. Tasks, homework, additional reading. That sort of thing.

Please read the instructions for your online training. Make sure you set aside the right amount of time to complete the course in a timely fashion.

Mistake #2 – Signing Up, Paying and Doing Nothing with It

This is an absolute classic. And it’s remarkable how common this is.

People sign up for a course, hand over their money and assume that by doing that they have earned the skill. Well, sorry to be the bearer of bad news. Unless you put in the work, you won’t get the skill.

That is a complete waste of time and money. If you’ve bought in advance, knowing you have set aside a specific time in the future to go through the course, that is fair enough.

But to pay someone for training and learning, and then do nothing at all with it. Not ever! That’s not very smart. A course not used, just gathering dust on the virtual bookshelf of your computer, helps nobody. Not you, not the people you serve.

And, believe me, it’s also very frustrating from the instructor side of things.

Of course, as professional trainers who are running a business, we like to see the money coming in. But we’re motivated by helping and making a difference to others.

So, it does pain us when this happens. When people pay over good money and leave those skills languishing in the learning management system, it’s not a good feeling. If they never access that course that they’ve purchased in good faith, in a way it feels that we’ve failed.

If you are going to sign up for an online course, do ensure that you set aside the time – referring back to mistake number one – to go through that course. Embed that learning so that you can do more in less time, be more productive and earn more money.

That way your online course is not a cost to write off but instead a genuine investment.

Mistake #3 – Procrastination

Maybe I should write about this next week. Only joking but, of course, there is a serious side to this mistake.

It is a common one, so if you’re prone to this you’re not alone. However, it is important to address it if you’re going to learn from your online training.

Procrastination manifests itself in a number of different ways. People will find anything to do to avoid doing their course.

When you hear yourself saying things like…

  • “I’ll just put the washing on”,
  • “I need to feed the dog/cat/budgie”,
  • “I’ll just watch one more episode on Netflix before getting back to my studies”
  • “I’ll just nip to the shops”
  • “Maybe I need to invent a new process for something”

… these may well be avoidance tactics. Do anything but get stuck into the course.

This is all about time management, of course.

Do me a favour, get stuck in. The quicker you get stuck in the more engaged you are with the learning you will be acquiring. And that is better for you in the long run.

Banish procrastination. Throw it out the window. For good.

Mistake #4 – Not Asking for Help

The whole point of training is that people learn. And they learn not just by taking in the new knowledge but by understanding it. That provides clarity and ensures the skill is picked up.

A common mistake with students is not asking for help, whether that’s from the instructor direct or from other students.

There’s no reason not to ask. Asking is not a show of weakness, it’s a sign of strength.

Your instructor will be delighted when you ask for help. As trainers, we create our courses in good faith. We run through them, we listen back to them, we watch them over. We make sure that we think we’ve done the best job we can do.

However, it’s great when our students ask us questions about our courses. That might be questions for clarification or questions for knowledge. Anything which they are not sure about. Or where they ask for a little extra help with something.

When students are curious and engaged enough to question things, we love that. So do ask your instructor for help.

As well as help from your trainer, there will be mechanisms within your course – the course that you’ve purchased – to assist you.

If there’s a community element to your course (whether that’s a Facebook group or, as in my case, a Community) then use that community. Post questions to other members who are also taking that course. It’s quite interesting to see other perspectives on an issue that you may be having.

You can learn from your instructor but also learn from other students taking the same online course as you.

These are the four biggest mistakes with online courses I see. Maybe you can think of any others? If so, do let me know.

And if you want to share what holds you back from getting stuck into online learning around Microsoft 365, please get in touch. I’d be happy to answer any questions.

Shelley Fishel



P.S. By the way, if you’ve been putting off investing in training in one or more applications in Microsoft 365 do take a look at my range of online courses. I’m sure you’ll find something that’s a good match.

P.P.S See the video that this article is based on along with the other videos in the series on my YouTube Channel.

The session was well structured and the explanation was very clear. It was amazing how Shelley managed to squeeze so much info in just one hour and a half! Colin’s support and contributions were also very valuable, and so were “Virtual Veronica”‘s. Thank you for a most interesting and useful training session at the Miss Jones Virtual Summit!

Laura Carizzo- Royal Norwegian Embassy in Argentina

I haven’t used PowerPoint in 20 years, this has really boosted my confidence.

Lyn Parker

Course is packed with so much valuable information in a easy-to-understand and follow language, even for a complete beginner. I can respect the fact that sometimes it’s very hard for an expert to break the information down to basics. but Shelley has done it brilliantly. I was sure that I knew quite a bit but Shelley has proven me wrong even at the very beginning of the basics of PowerPoint. Lessons are short and precise which allowed me to easily transfer the new skill into practice without being overwhelmed and to carry on adding on more with each lesson. I had so many ‘Aha!’ moments and for most of them I couldn’t believe I used to pay graphic designer to do it for me, now, thanks to Shelley, I am looking forward to creating, designing, converting my presentations all by myself!

Iva Freeman – Vertex Human Capital

Shelley was very thorough and knew a lot of tip’s for using Teams, thank you 🙂

James O’Connor – Cavannah Homes

Very informative, constantly getting everyone in the meeting involved, loved every bit of it!

Dylan Teal Hopkins – Cavannah Homes
Fantastic and informative training and great to see all of the exciting functions with Microsoft Teams.
Laura Rigby – The Apprenticeship College
Shelley was really clear in her teaching and went at a pace that was helpful to us. We covered all we needed to know to get us started, as a small team, using MS Teams. She was also very helpful in the run up to the session, with check in calls and ensuring our platform was set up correctly. I would highly recommend Shelley to anyone wanting to learn to navigate their way around MS Teams.
Leigh Dowling – Innuous

Microsoft Teams One to One Training Session

Shelley was approachable, easy to work with, and agile with answering questions to apply the session to my specific needs

Melissa Marshall – Present Your Science

A course on Outlook had been on the top of my list when Shelley asked VA’s what they wanted to learn.

It was a real case of ‘so that’s how you do it’ or ‘I never knew that’. I have to say that I learnt so many great tips it has definitely improved the way I work in Outlook and my inbox is looking colourful and organised and I can’t wait to share this knowledge with my clients.

Jacqueline Leake – JLeake VA Services – Outlook

A great course with lots of examples and step by step instructions. I can now confidently create infographics and as a bonus, I learnt a lot of new PowerPoint functionality that will enhance all my PowerPoint work and save me so much time.

Jessica Bailey – Integral Resource

I really like Shelley’s courses. She has a clear and easy to follow teaching style. In ‘How to Create Fillable Forms’ I’ve learned about the functions of the Developer ribbon which will mean I’ll be able to create a bespoke Returns Form for a client who has an online shop

Freya Henderson – Virtual Office Orkney

Shelley was really clear in her teaching and went at a pace that was helpful to us. We covered all we needed to know to get us started, as a small team, using MS Teams. She was also very helpful in the run up to the session, with check in calls and ensuring our platform was set up correctly. I would highly recommend Shelley to anyone wanting to learn to navigate their way around MS Teams.

Sarah Clements – Inuous

Absolutely superb course, easy to follow and to refer back whilst putting it all into practice! I was unaware of the extent you can customise a presentation and it’s just made me want to know more – what’s next Shelley?

Denise Williams

I thought I had a pretty good grasp of Outlook until I did this course! In her videos, Shelley is clear and concise, and the language she uses is straightforward and jargon-free. Each module is broken down into manageable chunks, which helps keep your attention and means the course is easy to fit in around other commitments. I’ve created email templates and implemented rules that are already saving me time, and as all the other things I’ve learnt start to become second nature, the positive impact on my efficiency is fast becoming clear. This course has been incredibly beneficial and I would highly recommend it to anyone looking to strengthen their skills and boost productivity.

Pip Doleman VA

I thought I knew Powerpoint really well, but I wanted to specifically learn how to use Powerpoint to create better infographics, easily and quickly. Shelley explains everything in a very logical and clear way, so I understood everything the first time I heard it. The most useful thing I learnt was that Powerpoint can do so much more than I thought it could. By also using the short cuts that Shelley showed me I am much quicker than I have ever been and I thought I was already quick!

Susan Marot

Shelley Fishel of Tomorrow’s VA has a wealth of experience in Microsoft Office. I met her in person 2 years ago at the PA Show in London. I also saw her in action in a fab workshop and knew she was the whizz that everyone had told me she was. I have since bought a lifetime access to her HUB and all the courses in there are a MUST if you are a VA on a mission. The courses will give you confidence in all the Office 365 components and will catapult you to dizzy heights

Alex Hughes