The world was made to plunge into digital learning two years ago. By now, enough time has passed for trainers and learners to experiment and gather effective strategies as we move forward with this new way of learning.

Digital learning has become a part of many people’s lives, and since it is here to stay, here are some tips on making the different mediums effective for you!

First, let’s look at the different digital learning formats. It is necessary to highlight the various forms as there are varied strategies to learn better for each.


Some of the digital learning formats today are:

  • Podcasts and Audiobooks
  • Videos
  • Microlearning Courses
  • Live Webinars

We’ll go into each of them one by one.

Podcasts and Audiobooks

One of the main reasons this medium of content consumption has risen in popularity is its convenience. Podcasts and audiobooks allow for multitasking, and you can listen to audio episodes while running, cooking, cleaning, etc., freeing your eyes and hands to do something else. It is also especially great for commuting and travelling.

A great tip to enhance your learning is to jot down some notes along the way. It could be key points or things you want to google later for more context. The best way would be to write something down by hand, as that forces your brain to process information in a more detailed manner, which increases the chances of storing the knowledge for later. I find it helpful to have a pen and paper lying around in different places around the house so that if I’m cooking or cleaning, I can write down my thoughts wherever I am and refer to them later.

Of course, writing may not always be feasible when doing other activities such as running. In this case, I would recommend typing a digital note or recording a voice memo so that you can get back to it after the run.

As tempting as it is to learn while doing something else all the time (it could save so much time!), we also must be mindful that humans have never been great at getting two things done at once. Here is a BBC Science Focus podcast that can help us understand how our brain helps us achieve our goals through something called executive function and can help to explain why we’re so bad at multitasking.

So sometimes, the best way to learn is not to busy yourself with other things and just focus on the podcast or audiobook.


Why are videos so effective in helping you learn? One theory that can help explain this is the dual coding theory. Our memory has two channels that deal with visual and verbal stimuli. While our memory stores them independently, they are linked, and these linked memories make retrieval of the information much easier. Videos work well because they are a great combination of visual and verbal stimuli.

One problem with videos is that platforms have such a massive catalogue of videos that it is hard to pick the best ones to learn from. Ever tried learning something on YouTube but ended up getting distracted by other video recommendations and falling into an endless-video watching spiral? Don’t worry; you’re not alone! For users 18 years old and above, YouTube’s Auto-play is switched on by default as we are deemed to have better self-control and know when to stop and get off the platform. My first recommendation is to adjust your autoplay settings on YouTube. This simple mindful act of disallowing autoplay can also be used on other video platforms to help you stay focused.

Another tip to help you learn better is to cross-reference and fact-check what you are learning to ensure that it is accurate. YouTube is said to be a significant conduit of online disinformation and misinformation worldwide. As anyone can make and upload a video these days, it is crucial to ensure you are learning from reliable sources. Besides, fact-checking could also help you retain information as you actively engage your brain to learn more about the topic.

This video by BBC shows us some examples of how fake news has led to tragedy.

Microlearning Courses

Microlearning courses are self-paced digital courses delivered in bite-sized chunks. Different elements such as text, infographics, videos, audio clips and quiz questions are combined to create an engaging learning experience. These courses are designed to be consumed easily and can usually be done on your mobile phone. Many microlearning courses are available for you online, so you’re very likely to find a course on whatever you’ve been itching to learn.

In these microlearning courses, many shy away from being quizzed as they find it easier just to consume the knowledge. However, actively participating in the quizzes engages your brain and helps you retain the knowledge better. Here, we can see how quiz-based microlearning helped spread information about the COVID-19 pandemic.

Unlike podcasts or videos, you set the pace of your microlearning. This is great because you can learn at a pace that is suitable for you. However, it may also be an issue as it requires you to put in the effort to continue learning instead of just letting a video or audio play. As such, another way that may help you learn better is to do modules in sets. You decide the number of sets; it could be sets of 3, sets of 5 etc. Setting such targets encourages you to learn more and to keep learning.

Live Webinars

One of the most popular forms of digital training yet, the popularity of live webinars has exploded since the pandemic began. It allows trainers to continue delivering lessons similarly to how they would in person. However, over time, trainers and learners are both starting to realise that a two-hour in-person seminar feels very different from a two-hour online webinar. Learners find it harder to stay engaged virtually than in person as they are behind a screen.

If you are feeling the same, one way to learn better is to take advantage of opportunities to discuss with your peers or ask the trainer questions to feel less isolated. If available, you can also read up on pre-webinar materials to prepare yourself for a more fruitful discussion.

Another reason that you may be disengaged could be that you are distracted. It is easy to whip out your phone during a live webinar or switch the tab to answer emails. To encourage you to focus, you can consider using one of these apps to block off other distractions and help you learn better.

With digital learning becoming a large part of our lives, we hope you will find these suggestions helpful in helping you learn better online.

Here at SmartUp, we constantly evolve our product to bring the best learning experience to the market. We are now incorporating live webinars (synchronous) and self-paced (asynchronous) learning features on our platform, based on our years of accumulated knowledge of adult digital learning behaviour. If you’re curious about how we have blended live and self-paced learning, get in touch to find out more!