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How to get the most out of e-learning

August 2017

K. M. Wong, Chief Financial Officer of Hong Kong Electric Investments and Chairman of the HKICPA Professional Development Committee, highlights the advantages and things to watch out for when it comes to learning outside the classroom

I have been a strong supporter of e-learning for many years. It started about 10 years ago when I was working for a multinational company that required me to travel extensively within Mainland China.

It was difficult for me to attend the Institute’s face-to-face seminars or workshops and comply with the annual continuing professional development requirements. Because of these difficulties, I started to explore whether e-learning could help or not. I registered to a couple of online seminars and started to access them after office hours in hotels when I was travelling. I found them very user-friendly.

First of all, I could do it at a time that was most convenient for me. I could pause the session, do other things and then continue when I’m ready. An important aspect of e-learning is that I can rewind the video if I ever miss what the speakers say. This format was particularly fitting when I was travelling around and had free time during the evening. Despite the Institute incurring a one-time production cost, the fee charged for e-seminars is the same as face-to-face seminars.

Even when I do not have to travel as frequently, I still find e-learning a better mode of learning for me. Nowadays, I can access courses during weekends or lunchtime in the office. While I don’t have the usual advantage of having direct dialogue and active discussions with the speakers, e-learning’s flexibility gives me better control of my own learning pace. But, based on my experience with e-learning, there are some words of caution worth mentioning:

Do not register to too many courses at once

There’s a temptation to oversubscribe to courses, especially if many seem interesting. However, the reality is that you may not have time to do all of them within the same period. Taking too many courses at a single time would defeat the purpose of e-learning’s flexibility and relaxed learning style.

Maintain a proactive learning attitude

Not being in a traditional classroom setting sitting alongside fellow classmates could make you become too relaxed and unfocused. To avoid this, I suggest writing down a few questions about the subject before starting. This may prompt you to actively look out for the answers during the seminar and keep you focused on the subject at hand. With a clear learning objective in mind, the achievements you make during your course would be even more rewarding.

Let friends and family know

It is essential to let them know that you are doing e-learning so that they will understand why you are ignoring them as you sit in front of the computer screen for hours. It will also keep them from interrupting you when you are taking your course. (Of course, you can always take breaks and hang out with them as you like.)

Share what you learned with friends and colleagues

Many of us are hesitant to share what we learned with others because we assume that they might not be on the same page in terms of the topic. But since e-learning has gained popularity over the years, you might be surprised to find that your friends and colleagues may also be studying the same topic as you. Discussing the topic with others and sharing ideas will only enrich your learning experience.

In summary, this is a new way of learning for everyone whether you are a young student or a professional. Given the rapid advances in technology, its impact will surely be big over time. Give e-learning a try and see whether you like it or not. It may even open a new chapter in your life. ◆