My eLearning experience

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By Chijioke Otikpa

I started my journey digital learning further than I can remember.
The nearest estimate I can give is the preparation for my JAMB exam 5 years ago that was when sites like myschool.com.ng came in handy, I can’t recall how I stumbled on it
I could say I was among the most active users of the platform so much that I reviewed and corrected over 50 different answers in the platform.
It was at that point I started finding out that I was not much of a pen and paper person, I also for one disliked long boring classes right from my Senior Secondary school. I wished for teachers I could easily rewind, fast forward put on repeat in order to perfectly grab a concept but well, physical classrooms never met my expectation for one day.
I see myself more on the audiovisual and task oriented learning spectrum but most conventional classrooms I passed through succeeded in offering just the opposite.
Despite the fact that I never loved boring classes, who does? I always came out tops in my class but never satisfied with teaching methods I encountered.
Another deep immersion experience I had with eLearning was my first undergraduate year. I did read a lot in my first year but I had a way of augmenting my learning with YouTube, yes YouTube.
That was where my journey changed gear and kicked off at full speed. I remember completing most of my course outline on zoology and biology with videos I saved offline on YouTube then.
We formed a reading group then made up of 3 persons which later grew to 5 persons.
I remember going for night classes almost every day with a load of excitement on  how I was going to empty YouTube ,I didn’t have all the money for crazy data plans to accommodate what I wanted but trust me I set alarms for 12am, thank God for MTN night subscriptions.

I would read till it is 12 and once my alarm goes off, streams of joy flow in my heart and I quickly roam about to find the area around with the highest network signal strength. Next; downloading…  … … till it is finished, the I will leave it for the next day, I usually come back to my reading when my night subscription gets exhausted which is usually about 1 hour after I start downloads..
This my new found love did not just help my grades but helped my thinking as well.
After watching my videos and being taught by some of the best heads in the world, I rise to a whole new level of confidence and absorb my textbooks like a sponge. 
YouTube became my best friend and go to for almost everything. I remember those days I would come to school as early as 7am and I won’t even have made it to the middle row due to the flood of students all packed in one lecture hall and to finish it up, the lecturer will not be audible and uses uninteresting teaching methods, I never panicked as I reassured myself constantly that my good friend YouTube will be there waiting to help, all I need was to jot down relevant topics and key words to input in my YouTube search bar later on and enjoy.
I really did enjoy the virtual space, one I could explore and make the teacher repeat as many times as possible, I could rewatch the videos to grab some tough concepts.
This pretty much continued when I moved over to my second year, my friend and teacher, YouTube was there for me when everyone was trying to survive…
One thing still baffled me; why should I pay my school fees and then come to school just to get frustrated and end up getting my education on YouTube?
There was also a problem, a lot of medical videos existed and I had a hard time sorting to kn0ow which should be in my catalogue.
Prior to crossing over to the college of health sciences which was in a different campus from the main campus I already had a foretaste of what the so called university life will look like and no one told me to start looking out for means to thrive. I decided to resort to eLearning, this time I took out the course outline I managed to have access to and marched to Google. I was randomly searching until I found something- edX platform. I quickly enrolled in some of the courses that had a link with my outline.
As early as it was then, it was from edX that I learnt a lot about the anatomy of the upper limb. I was feeling like I was so privileged to lay my hands on such a platform before anyone else. It was a treasure to me, the course was entirely free but the certificate cost some dollars. Guess what, I completed the course and the 49$ fee for the certificate I happily ignored it and pretended I never saw it. I was happy for the knowledge acquired.
As time went by, my love for eLearning grew so much and my tentacles spread as well, by my third year, I had started taking courses in platforms like coursera.
The first two courses I intensively engaged in via coursera were mind blowing and really eye opening. I remember doing a course titled sit less, get active on courser which plunged me into the physical activity advocate that I am today. This has helped me in more ways than one, not too long after completing the course, I was invited by an organization I was volunteering with to give a health talk in any topic of choice since I was among the very few health persons in the group. I was nervous at first but I decided to give it a try out of enthusiasm and it turned out just excellent, with commendations and personal gratitude notes flooding after the lecture. How would I have been motivated to do that much if I had noit learnt from some of the best instructors in the world.
I have been invited in different virtual platforms ever since, local and international to discuss matters relating to health some of which include CTY-Initiative which I was invited to talk to over 100 ladies about lifestyle with emphasis on physical health and nutrition and also NPS Africa instagram live event to talk about the impact of the COVID19 lockdown on mental and physical health and how to remain mentally and physically healthy through the lockdown, I was really on panic mode toward the event  but I simply had to calm myself down, revise some of my notes which I made earlier from the course, add a few things necessary and I was good to go. The event turned out to be awesome and I was even pleading to have more questions thrown at me. So indirectly, eLearning helped me combat imposter syndrome.
What gave me the courage to accept these invitations was that I reminded myself that I have gotten tangible knowledge in that area via eLearning, I see myself as a product of many trainings.
My eLearning journey turned explosive in my 4th year, that was when I encountered Udemy and had access to and completed some free courses on first aid via Udemy, it was unbelievable how such good stuff could come for free. I started looking out for more free courses and from time to time I would stumble on one or two and demolish them, I also encountered and experimented with many other platforms, I got some of their apps that I could find on appstore and I started playing around them.
After my 4th year second semester while at my clinical vacation postings I stumbled on a free learning opportunity offered by Futurelearn.com in affiliation with the UK as they were doing study campaign. They were offering free digital upgrade to take any course of choice, I quickly grabbed the opportunity and started the journey, a lot of things still vague to me but I persisted, it was hectic and intense but pleasurable, I ensured I was never idle throughout my clinical posting days which lasted about 3 weeks, I finally completed the course on Educating Children with disabilities and my joy knew no bounds the day I wrote the exam and received my certificate of completion. What actually prompted my decision to learn this course was the nonprofit organization I volunteer with which is mainly serving the purpose of improving standards of child education and care.
After completing the course, I thought to myself, since the offer is still on and will run for a few more weeks, why not introduce my friends to also benefit? So I created a WhatsApp group immediately and named it –Study online with Jay. I created a brief description and sent out the link. Once people started joining, I started sending them details of the free digital upgrades offered by futurelearn and how to access them, the group continued to grow, on getting to about 20 members, I thought to myself again-the name of this group may not allow members to express themselves properly and for the fact that I saw people older than I was joining the group, the name suggested more of a mentorship scenario which I was not really ready for especially because I had some of my senior colleagues in the group so I discussed with one of the team members I had recruited as an admin in the group and we did a name change and that is how the name LEARN247 was born.
Earlier that year 2019, I became a member of YALI Network and later discovered I could benefit from eLearning through their website, by the time I found this out, I was in my home town for the Christmas break which was after my clinical vacation postings. I took a few courses and they ‘tasted’ good so I extended then offer to all my siblings and then to everyone around me at that time. That period was hot for me as there was only one special zone in the compound where we could find network signal good enough to do our businesses and engage our new found love. I was doing a race with my immediate elder brother we were busy completing courses and celebrating with shouts of victory after each one completed, the associated bliss I can’t explain.
Then finally I continued to stumble upon opportunity after opportunity, most of them completely free especially via Udemy. My life has never remained the same. I started multitasking a whole lot, combining my self ‘’education’’ with school work and completing course after course which has helped me build a whole great level of confidence and competence.
I won’t fail to include my recent accomplishments, the many times I was invited to educate and train people on COVID19 what it is and its prevention, I was selected after I taught an alumni group about the disease to train about 40 person to launch out for a community project which I did to the best of my ability. I had the confidence to do that and more after I had already consumed up to 6 different courses on the topic by some of the best instructors and health institutions.

I landed a lot of other speaking and teaching invitations because I branded my expertise with some certifications I had acquired and the knowledge I share relentlessly via different platforms.
This is just a glance at my journey, it has been really more intriguing and exciting than what I have narrated above and I will certainly advice anyone to come join me in this train. 
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