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.