Distance learning has gone through many phases: correspondence learning by mail in the 1700s and 1800s, radio and television formats reaching the masses in the early and mid 1900s, and web-based learning first appearing in the late 1900s. Today, online learning is a not only widely available (there are millions of online learners and almost all colleges universities utilize online delivery methods to offer courses and programs), there are professional standards established by accrediting agencies and consumers demand high quality content. You can literally learn anything online today…
Global Martial Arts University is an industry leader in reaching individuals with high quality, personalized (and affordable) martial arts training. In this article, I will share with you some of the benefits and constraints of this learning format and summarize tips from successful GMAU black belts.
TIP #1: Be Prepared to Train Differently.
There are many benefits of online learning but it also takes a lot of self-motivation and discipline. Where [in-person] learning tends to be more instructor-led, online learning is student-focused and participative. It is truly unique. The format does produce a different type of experience and to be successful, a student must realize this.
” Tracking training time through the GMAU website is very motivating. Much more personalized feedback after sending in assignment or grading videos than at the physical dojo. Sensei Jon is a great mentor and a gentle, nice but also firm person. I regard him as a role model, and I can learn so much from his life and MA experience. ” – Jonas Bieri, Shotokan Black Belt
TIP #2: Set a Time to Train.
This was a common recommendation across the board. Just as a physical school will have a set schedule, students learning through GMAU need to set times for training. This requires prioritizing and dedication.
” Make a training schedule and stick to it no matter what. Even better, don’t just say ‘I’ll practice 30 minutes today’, come up with a brief plan and time of day you plan to train. You will see definite improvement this way and then when the time comes to practice you won’t talk yourself out of it. ” – Levi Potter, Ultimate Bo Black Chevron
TIP #3: Make a Commitment to Yourself.
The GMAU format does require one to be internally motivated, and is commonly used as a screener to answer the question: Is online learning for me? See this article from U.S. News & World Report for further discussion.
” I could certainly see how people are less motivated when training alone and/or without constant direct supervision … you need to train as if you were in a real dojo and for some people that can be hard to do. People who need constant encouragement inside a dojo, for instance, won’t train as hard as required when training by themselves. ” – Rick Langevoort, Ultimate Bo Black Chevron
TIP #4: Take Advantage of GMAU’s Unique Features
One would think that not (physically) being in class with others would be a major drawback of this learning approach. Of course, there is some truth to that but GMAU includes features to overcome this by providing options within the system to allow for (and require) instructor-to-student and student-to-student interaction.
” The interactions between the instructors and myself, as well as the good communication between the other students and myself despite the distance learning [was a positive experience]. ” – Christian Rainer, Shotokan Black Belt
TIP #5: Set Realistic Goals.
Whether you attend a brick-and-mortar school or learn via distance, you need to have goals to guide your progress. Goal setting is highly recommended by the successful GMAU black belts I interviewed. For more information on creating SMART goals, check out this link.
” The way I do training is to wake up at 05:00 and to a follow along workout till about 05:45 that I do for four days a week. Being over 40 it is according to me better to train 4 times a week for 30-45 min. than to train for 2 hours 5 times a week. The body takes longer to heal when over 40. ” – Ferdie Oosthuizen, Shotokan Black Belt
The black belts interviewed for this blog gave several reasons why they chose GMAU and what makes it unique:
A recent Forbes article confirms these comments:
If you are considering learning online through GMAU there are a few other considerations (not mentioned above) to bring to your attention. You must have a basic understanding of and aptitude with computers. At the most basic level, you have to be able to navigate the web and send emails. You should also be comfortable recording yourself and posting videos to YouTube.
Another important skill is understanding “netiquette” or expressing yourself in an electronic format. This is different than speaking to someone in person or on the phone. Because most learning is through videos, if you are a visual learner that is a plus.
Lastly, you must be a critical thinker. Not only do you need to be able to understand and demonstrate physical skills, as a GMAU student you will have to express critical thinking skills through assignments that require you to communicate your thoughts about martial arts concepts and techniques, e.g., by posting on discussion boards and commenting on other student posts.