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What’s the best way to learn something online?


We spend an increasing amount of our time online. Whether sat at a desk, on the train, or in bed, the Internet enables us to learn anytime, anywhere (as long as we have signal). But identifying the ‘best’ way to learn something online is difficult. How do we make sure our time is well spent and our learning most effective?

Firstly, There is no right answer to this question as we each have our own learning preferences. And secondly, it depends on what we are trying to learn.

To maximise the return on the time we invest in learning, we therefore need to develop the ability to shape online learning around our needs [1]. The recent trends of micro learning [2] and bring your own learning [3] have emerged in response to our increasingly busy lives. We want to learn new things, but we don’t necessarily have time to take a year-long course.

To survive the world of work in the 21st Century, each of us requires the ability to evaluate our own learning needs. At Creative Huddle, we help you develop this ability by asking you questions that help you evaluate what you need to learn, why you need to learn it, and how you might apply it. We do our best to provide you with bite-sized lessons that you can apply directly to your own professional environment.

We believe that the best learning happens through dialogue and reflecting on our actions [4]. Dialogue doesn’t necessarily have to involve more than one person (inter-personal), it can happen just as easily by enabling you to ask yourself informed questions (intra-personal) [5]. Participating in dialogue is a key element in effective online learning because it requires you to challenge your existing beliefs and assumptions. Mulling over and reflecting on your new knowledge then makes it more likely that you will have the confidence to apply it when needed.

Most importantly, we believe that passively watching videos will only get you so far [6]. While videos are a useful and flexible way of acquiring new information, creativity by its very nature involves actively doing something. Simply watching someone else talk to you about creativity won’t necessarily make you more creative. It is only through actively engaging with new information through questioning, discussion and reflection that you will begin to change your behaviour and apply your new knowledge.

So to answer to the question ‘what is the best way to learn something online?’, we have to first learn more about ourselves and our personal learning preferences. Before we begin experimenting with lots of tools, we need to learn how to evaluate our own learning needs. And before we spend lots of time and money on formal learning or watching videos, we need to understand how we can shape our learning and professional development around these needs.

To learn effectively online, we therefore need to be able to access learning content:

  • in our preferred format
  • on our preferred device
  • at the time when we most need it
  • that can be applied to the problems we currently face
  • that requires us to be an active participant
  • that stimulates inter- and intra-personal dialogue
  • with the minimum of technical difficulty

Once we have developed the confidence and ability to build our own personal learning programmes, we will be in a stronger position to determine the the best way to learn something online – for us.

Take a look at our online learning programmes to see if they’re right for you.


  • [1] Grant, J. (2002) Learning needs assessment: assessing the need. British Medical Journal, 324(7330), 156-159
  • [2] Hug, T. (ed) (2007) Didactics of Microlearning: Concepts, Discourses and Examples. Germany: Waxmann Verlag
  • [3] Schad, L. (2014) Bring Your Own Learning: Transform Instruction with Any Device. International Society for Technology in Education
  • [4] Schon, D. (1983) The Reflective Practitioner: How professionals think in action. London: Temple Smith
  • [5] Gorsky, P. and Caspi, A. (2005) Dialogue: A theoretical framework for distance education instructional systems. British Journal of Educational Technology. 36(2), 137-144
  • [6] Stetz, T. and Bauman, A. (2013) Reasons to Rethink the Use of Audio and Video Lectures in Online Courses. Higher Learning Research Communications, 3(4), 49-58

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