E-learning can make you wonder if you’re secretly stupid. It’s easy to get really stuck, and start to panic. Before long, you’re asking yourself…

Am I that dumb?

But don’t hit the panic button yet. Let’s look at a really common scenario.

Say you’ve just started a course. You’ve found your way around the online system. You know when your first assignment’s due. It’s all systems go.

Opening up your first online lecture, you start to read.

What does it mean? You don’t quite get it.

So you read it again. It still doesn’t make much sense.

Your stomach starts to churn. The panic rises. And once again, you ask yourself:

Am I smart enough for e-learning?

Of course you are. You’re just having a really common, fear-filled reaction.

Let’s look at why this happens, and what you can do about it.

New is scary!

Both the topic and the learning method itself are completely new to you. And new is scary. It’s unknown territory. For now at least, everything feels pretty weird…

• The topic is new

You may be looking at this topic in depth for the first time. So it’ll take a moment or two to grasp it. It might involve terms you’re not familiar with, or concepts you haven’t come across before.

That’s not so surprising. If you were already an expert, you wouldn’t be taking the course, right?

• The learning mode is new

All your learning materials are online. That takes some adjustment, too.

When you haven’t studied online before, you’ll be worrying about how you learn, nearly as much as what you’re learning about.

Most people have to get through a fear barrier to take on new skills. Everyone has insecurities about what they’re capable of.

This is normal! And it’s also normal to keep asking yourself, "Am I smart enough?"

The important thing is to make sure you can answer this question with a resounding "YES".

5 ways to feel smarter fast

Next time you get stuck, you don’t need to shout "Am I really that dumb?" loud enough for the neighbours to hear. Try one of these ways of finding your way through the new territory.

1. Climb down off the roof

Give yourself a second to adjust to this new topic, and new way of learning. It’s way too early to panic. It might take a few days (or much longer) to get comfortable.

A calm approach will help the new ideas to sink in more easily.

2. Use the e-learning forums or discussion boards

Outline your problem on the electronic discussion board for your course, and ask for feedback and ideas. If you’re struggling with an issue, chances are other students probably are too.

3. Track down additional resources

Look around the course guide or course outline sections of your Learning Management System. Are there additional readings with the course material? Do the online lessons include recommended resources? Is there a chapter of the textbook which explains everything?

The solution you need might’ve been there all the time.

4. Find your own resources

E-learning involves developing independent learning skills. Take the initiative, and do a little of your own research. The clarity you need could be a Google search away.

5. Talk to your tutor

If you just can’t come to grips with the topic, ask your tutor for help. You may simply need a little more explanation. It’s not a crime. Your tutor’s the expert, and is there to support you.

Sometimes you need help when you learn online. That’s normal.
If you’re really smart, you’ll ask for some!

Author's Bio: 

Dr Liz Hardy is the owner of ElearningTrainer.com and the author of E-learning 101, the friendliest online study guide around. Dr Hardy takes a unique approach to online learning. Blending simple e-learning strategies with a little humour and pictures of friendly dogs, she presents accessible e-learning advice that works.