Online Learning: Ready, Get Set, Learn!

Lesson 2: Ready, Get Set, Learn!


Ready, get set, learn!

Questions to ask yourself

Online education is a field that’s rapidly expanding. The benefit of having so many choices is that you can be picky! Remember that as a learner, the power is in your hands; you know yourself better than anyone else.

As you start exploring your options, here are three key questions to reflect on…

  1. What are my goals? What am I hoping to get out of this learning experience?
  2. Considering my current schedule, how much time and flexibility do I need?
  3. Can I spend money on this, or am I looking for little- to no-cost options?

It might be helpful to jot down your ideas. The next step is finding a learning environment that will inspire and motivate you.

Since we’re motivated by different things, we succeed in different learning environments. Let’s talk about how the environment (or format) is connected to motivation, and why this is especially key in online education. 

 The connection between motivation and learning

Many of us have had the experience of feeling frustrated in a regular classroom. Maybe we don’t relate to the subject; maybe the instructor moves through the material too quickly, or too slowly. We might enjoy collaborating with others–or we wish we could just do projects and other tasks on our own.

We go on to deal with similar issues at work. A lot depends on our personality and how we process information. It also depends on what motivates us to learn. There are two main types of motivation…

  • Extrinsic motivation is related to rewards in our external environment. If we complete a class, for example, maybe we get a certificate at the end that makes us feel like we accomplished something. 
  • Intrinsic motivation comes from within. We’re curious about a topic and hungry for more information; we want to learn just for fun.

Motivation plays a big role in what we get out of an online learning experience. Some group-based options are more structured than others, leading to an “end result.” Others are less formal; the participants are intrinsically motivated, or there to learn because they want to.

So think about the topic and your goals. Are you extrinsically or intrinsically motivated to explore this subject? Is there something you want to achieve? This will give you some ideas about the type of format that might fit your needs.

Ultimately, understanding what motivates you will help you to grow as a learner. In the next lesson, we’ll talk more about the wide variety of group-based options that are out there. 


  • As you start looking into online education, consider outlining your goals, time/flexibility, and how much you can spend (if anything).
  • When it comes to learning at work or in school, online or offline, a lot has to do with our personality and how we process information. 
  • Extrinsic motivation is tied to external rewards, whereas intrinsic motivation is another term for self-motivation. 
  • Think about if you’re intrinsically or extrinsically motivated to learn about a topic. This will help you choose an online learning format that works for you.