What Exactly is an Online Learning Guide?

Online educational programs are quickly becoming one of the most lucrative fields in the United States and other countries, and various colleges all over the world are expanding their online programs to meet the needs of their students. How did these programs come about? Because of popular demand. With more and more people leaving and returning to school at different periods in their lives, and with the myriad of skills and experiences they bring with them as they enroll and complete various classes and workshops, institutions and resource departments are working to adapt and streamline their services to better benefit their customers. This revolution is not limited to colleges and universities, either: from GED programs and virtual classrooms offered at high schools to online tutorials and learning channels on YouTube, online education has never been more attainable to the average person. With all these resources available, one tool that many students utilize in their studies is an online learning guide. You might be wondering: what exactly is an online learning guide, and how do you use it?

Essentially, an online learning guide is an informative tool that is usually provided directly by the instructor, institution, or company through which the course or training is offered. Online learning guides often focus primarily on the most vital parts of the skill or class that is being taught and can be delivered in many different formats, both physical and virtual.

The goal is for the students to have a tool that they can use during their studies and hopefully have a better experience by having the learning guide.

Purpose and Function

The most important thing an online learning guide can do for you is help you learn the most important parts of the class or module you are taking. Almost any class a student takes will have a mass of information, and the average college class has between two to ten different texts that are meant to be used interchangeably throughout the course.

Whether it is a textbook, a PowerPoint presentation, a series of notes or the syllabus to your course, many students find that they are overwhelmed by the sheer amount of information that is presented to them, especially given the fact that students can typically enroll for 12 to 21 hours’ worth of classes in a single semester.

Statistics show that for every hour a college class is credited for, students can typically expect 2 to 4 hours’ worth of reading and studying material — an extremely heavy workload for those that do not have the funds or feasibility to be students full-time. Learning to differentiate the necessary information from the unnecessary information is an important skill to develop, but it can still be a daunting task.

Who has the time to complete all that reading and still have time for regular life? For those attempting to balance school and work or gain additional licensure for promotion and career advancement, the amount of studying necessary to succeed in their education can seem impossible when the demands of full-time work are unrelenting.

Before online education became more common and accessible, many students complained that they felt they would never be able to complete any training and still be able to balance their lives at work and home. In these scenarios, with more virtual classes and students than ever before, the online learning guide can seem like a lifesaver, as it will contain keywords and phrases, the information or content that will be most heavily tested, accompanying diagrams and pictures, and will often include additional websites and partner texts for further study.

Although it is not always recommended, the online learning guide can be the main resource used in almost any training course, provided there are no specific additional resources to be integrated into the coursework.


The biggest benefit of having an online learning guide? Most if not all the main information you need to pass the class or complete the training is in one easily accessible place! Imagine how much easier studying for exams or preparing an essay would be if you only had to check one source and all the necessary curriculum was in one place.

Now imagine that that same source had built-in practices and other tools that would only make it easier to excel as a student. In order to better tailor their curriculum to fit the needs of their students, many colleges and universities provide online learning guides complete with practice quizzes, online training modules and with regular constructive feedback based on the students’ input.

The whole purpose of the guide is to be centered entirely around improving the experience of its users. Students appreciate that they can practice what they are learning at a pace commensurate with the pace of the coursework as prescribed by the instructor, while also being able to go over difficult or confusing concepts that would slow down their learning as they go along.

Online learning guides can also be used to quickly reference back to information previously covered in the event of an exam or the completion of the training. Whether you are in the midst of a deep study session or just fact-checking before completing an assignment, the learning guide is meant to be as convenient and easy as the student wants it to be.

When you have completed your class or training, it is a good idea to keep the notes, texts, or the learning guide itself—you never know when you might be able to use it again. To that end, many online learning guides have an option for students to set up online accounts through their software or websites, and students can subscribe or enroll themselves in the software to use as much as they want long after the training has been completed.

If you think about it, maintaining access to your online learning guide is the best way to ensure that you never stop learning.

Preparing for the Future

These days, it has never been easier to return to school or enroll in a training for almost anything you can imagine. More and more universities are updating or adding their online curriculum, and new colleges, high schools, and GED programs — entirely virtual — are popping up and advertising their services to the masses of individuals looking to better themselves through education. Many students might prefer to attend school in the traditional fashion: lectures, attending classes in person, study sessions over notes and text lists, and all the little nuances that come with that.

For others, the seamlessness of going to school from the safety and comfort of their computer has allowed them more freedom and opportunities than they would have otherwise. For those students, online learning guides come in a lot of different formats and can be used as much or as little as the student wants, but if they are detailed and fitted to the curriculum, they are worth more than a cursory glance.

For all the convenience that the online learning guide provides, however, no tool or resource can take the place of attention to detail, hard work, and perseverance. No matter what your study goals are or where you are in your education, do not waste a single resource available to you: read the notes, pay attention to the lectures, attend a study session or two—and explore the options your online learning guide provides! You will be well on your way to achieving your goals and acing your class!

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