Between the hustle and bustle of people’s lives paired with the increase of remote learning opportunities, obtaining degrees online is a practical option. Whether you have children and need to be home more often, you are geographically disadvantaged, or you simply don’t learn well in a classroom setting, there are ABA certificate programs out there for you to take online.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, more and more people began turning to their computers and tablets to take in knowledge and earn certificates and degrees. Reasons for this were for health and safety, but people also choose to learn online because of convenience, reduced cost, and learning style preference.
Many people today are asking themselves the question of whether or not it is possible to earn a certificate in Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) online. The short answer is yes, it is entirely possible!
Keep reading to understand some of the benefits and things to consider when choosing an online learning environment when in an ABA certificate program.
Establishing Connections While Online Learning
Those who learn online don’t get the entire social experience compared to those who attend on-campus classes. Being able to navigate an online platform while still engaging with others is important. There will be times within the ABA program when students will be asked to connect and collaborate with others—and this includes establishing an internship/supervision site. ABA students may even be asked to Zoom or Skype other students or professors to practice communication techniques and ABA interventions in real-time.
Some ways to connect with other ABA students are to find a group of students in your area and hold regular in-person study sessions, hold virtual study sessions, make sure you introduce yourself and try to find similarities between you and your peers, and utilize technology to communicate and collaborate.
The advantage that comes from the challenge of connecting with others during remote learning is that you will emerge naturally more tenacious and creative about interfacing with others when it is most difficult.
Building connections is a necessary skill to have when working in the world of ABA.
With that said, it is important to do your research and choose an ABA certificate program that acknowledges the need for enhanced networking initiatives and builds them into their curriculum. Don’t sit along the sidelines while learning online; be engaged, connect with others, and make networking relationships that can help you flourish in your career.
Getting Your Certification Online Offers Flexibility
One of the biggest advantages of online learning is the flexibility that it affords students.
Remote students can generally complete all coursework whenever and wherever it is most convenient for them. This allows them to complete their certificate without sacrificing other desires and obligations, such as jobs to financially support their endeavors, family commitments, and extracurricular interests.
Learning face-to-face does not offer the convenience and flexibility that remote learning does.
ABA students not only get to have the advantage of learning wherever they choose, but they also get to learn a thing or two about flexibility in general, as this is one major skill ABA therapists need to know.
ABA therapists must be flexible both mentally and physically. Most analysts work with a variety of clients and travel to schools, homes, and other locations to help them learn how to function in their natural environments. They have to observe and work with children and adults who are in various behavioral and mental states and be able to tailor their interventions to each individual. And sometimes things happen that are unexpected and out of the analyst’s control.
Completing an online ABA certificate program takes flexibility and self-discipline that will pay off exponentially in the long run.
Organization is Required for Online Learning
To be a successful ABA specialist, you must be organized. There is no way around this. Between meetings, client observations, professional learning, physical interventions, training parents and teachers, and a packed daily schedule, being organized is a priority.
This is also true for students who learn online. Some may think you would need to be more organized while learning the traditional way on a college campus, although it takes extra motivation and organization when learning in the comfort of your own home or office.
You want your space to be organized to provide a calm atmosphere for you to complete your work. Have a designated place on your desk for your books, calendar, and other school materials. How you decorate your workspace is a personal preference, however, remember the more clutter you have around your office, the easier it will be to get distracted, (CampusExplorer).
Other great tips for staying organized while learning online are:
- Print off all syllabi.
- Make a list of assignments and track them in a planner.
- Have separate folders (physical and digital) for each class.
- Use task-management tools and apps.
- Regularly contact your professor.
- Set up a workspace according to your learning style.
- Stay ahead of schedule.
- Set reminders.
- Have a backup plan.
Even if you aren’t naturally organized, this is something that can be easily worked on with some effort. Staying organized will save you a lot of time and a major headache in the long run.
Practice Self-Care While Online Learning
Working in ABA can be highly stressful and emotionally draining. You come to care for your clients, whose behaviors can be difficult to work with. It is therefore crucial that you learn during your certification process to make time for self-care.
Without a campus gym and support groups built-in as they are for many traditional certificate programs, you must get creative and seek them out on your own. Find what relaxes you and replenishes your energy, and work it into your study schedule. Getting in the habit now will help you naturally work it into your appointment schedule when you start practicing.
A few ideas to create a practice of self-care as you learn online include:
- Set specific work hours and stay organized.
- Take frequent breaks and get your eyes off the screen.
- Don’t compare yourself to other online learners.
- Learn in a relaxing environment (outside, at a park, in a calming room).
- Get moving and don’t remain sedentary.
- Set short-term, realistic, and measurable goals.
- Take a shower and get dressed just as you would if you were on campus.
- Connect or network with someone else in the program—make a friend.
- Find time to unwind and unplug after each session/class.
Conclusion to Getting An ABA Certification Online
Distance learning is growing in popularity. Aside from the more obvious benefits of reduced cost and flexibility, online learning comes with challenges that will make you stronger as an ABA specialist when you finally complete your certificate and enter the field.
Being able to establish professional connections and networks, remain flexible, stay organized, and practice self-care are all crucial to your success as an ABA student and in your career.
By highlighting your success with these skills in your job applications and interviews, your online certificate will read as a definite asset!
Master of Education (M.Ed.) | Northeastern State University
Behavior and Learning Disorders | Georgia State University
Updated August 2021