In today’s digitally-enabled world, on-demand online learning is an incredible paradigm for developing new skills and accelerating growth in your career and beyond. Online learning has some distinct advantages over traditional classroom-based learning. Perhaps its most important advantages relate to the flexibility and convenience of its asynchronous format.
With asynchronous online learning, you can work at your own pace without a set time for when class starts or ends. This contrasts with traditional synchronous learning in instructor-led classrooms, with regularly scheduled class times and structured interactions with other students.
Asynchronous online learning formats mean you can engage with educational content when and where it makes sense for you, offering more overall opportunities to learn and expand your skills. Also, without the limitations of synchronous learnings’ dedicated physical locations, you can learn at the local coffee shop, while commuting to work, or from the comfort of your own home.
However, asynchronous online learning can present some challenges. For some, it can be hard to stay motivated when learning independently. Some learners find it challenging to hold themselves accountable to completing courses on time without the presence of a teacher and community of other students. And the comfort of your own home can mean more distractions that get in the way of learning.
Another obstacle is how students must be determined to reach out for help when engaging with challenging material. Because the instructor isn’t also in the room, they may not see the confused look on your face and realize you aren’t following the concepts just explained. In order to really “get” it, you have to take the initiative to connect with the teacher to clarify the concepts. With traditional instructor-led training, you can just ask the teacher on the spot, clarify the material, and move on.
Understanding The Importance of Learning Styles
It’s also important to consider different learning styles, which include visual, auditory, reading/writing, and kinesthetic. Each person has their preferences for which works best for them, and it may vary for learning different things. For example, watching a video on how to swim (visual) is likely less impactful than getting in a pool and practicing the strokes with an instructor (kinesthetic). Reading the turn-by-turn directions for how to get to a new park (read/write) might work better for some, but for others, listening to a friend give directions using landmarks (auditory) would be more effective.
Understanding your preferences for which styles is something to keep in mind as you continue your cybersecurity skills development journey. However, focusing solely on your preferred style doesn’t necessarily increase learning. Often, it’s most effective to combine several styles.
Finding a Winning Combination
Blending multiple learning styles and methods is ideal for retaining information in general, and that’s definitely the case with cybersecurity skills development. You might start by listening to the instructor during a lecture or reading about the subject in a book. To study that same information, you’ll want to choose a different format. Let’s say you are studying for a certification exam. Taking an on-demand course where you can learn at your own pace gives you time to digest a lot of information and focus on learning the concepts. Before you sit for the exam, taking a live, bootcamp style course where you can review the material with a highly qualified instructor can help you to clarify anything you weren’t sure about during self-study and fill in any gaps that you need to continue studying before exam day.
This method would also work in reverse. You can participate in a bootcamp course first to get an overview of all the material you’ll need to be familiar with. Then, dive into a structured course where you can take your time digging into specific concepts at your own pace. Having already reviewed the concepts during the bootcamp, your brain will connect the material more quickly, and you’ll be exam-ready in no time.
Optimizing Study Time
It’s also important to mix different methods when studying outside of the classroom format, whether it’s on-demand or live. Spaced repetition, or studying in several small chunks, is much more effective than long cramming sessions since it encourages you to engage with the concepts vs just memorizing facts.
If you take notes during class (which you should!), it’s important to review those. For more challenging concepts, consider drawing out processes and organizing information into charts that make sense to you. And don’t discount the power of simple study tools like flashcards.
Testing yourself on the material is also key. That could include practice exercises or actual sample test questions for exams. You could go even further and use a blank sheet of paper (or word document) and write out more complicated concepts from memory, then later reference the course material to fill in the blanks.
Group study is also incredibly useful. Reviewing concepts with other people can help to solidify your understanding. If you aren’t sure about a concept, the group can use their collective notes to figure out what it means. Individuals can test their knowledge of concepts by teaching others. Instead of giving each other answers, it is more effective to help the group figure out how to find the answer. Asking questions about the thought process someone used to derive an answer can help determine where a misstep or misunderstanding occurred.
Complementing Online Learning with Cybrary Live Instructor-Led Training
At Cybrary, we’ve helped tens of thousands of cybersecurity professionals learn new skills, advance their careers, and better defend against cyber threats through online learning. We also realize the importance of the best practices mentioned throughout this article related to blending different modalities and formats for our learners. That’s why we’ve always prioritized combining hands-on labs, assessments, and practice tests with our video and text-based content.
Earlier this year, we took that approach a step further with the introduction of Cybrary Live. Available for Cybrary for Teams accounts, Cybrary Live encompasses live instructor-led training in dynamic virtual classroom environments. Currently Cybrary Live is focused on boot camp style certification prep courses for the most in-demand certifications, across all skill levels, including Security+, Network+, CISM, CRISC, CCSP, CISSP, and many more.
When combined with our industry-leading in-app, on-demand content, Cybrary Live offers a host of benefits:
- Tailored Content: Veteran instructors adapt lectures to meet the learning style and needs of students in the session.
- Immediate Feedback: Live, interactive sessions allow students to immediately resolve questions on challenging concepts.
- Insights from the Field: Instructors share real-life examples drawn from decades of field experience to clarify the material.
- Low Student-to-Teacher Ratio: Each course is capped at 25 attendees for a classroom environment that encourages engagement and interaction.
- Training for All Skill Levels: Cybrary Live includes courses that align with beginner, intermediate, and advanced cybersecurity roles.
- Calendar Availability: We’re offering a variety of calendar slots for each course to fit within your staff’s busy schedules.
Schedule a demo with one of our cybersecurity skills development experts to see how Cybrary for Teams and Cybrary Live can help your team better defend against cyber threats.