Once you have a general sense of what to expect in online learning, you are ready to start your course work…or are you? There are many strategies you can adopt to increase opportunities for success on your journey, but your achievement is also affected by your characteristics as a learner. Do you have, or are you willing to adopt the traits of an online learner? This document will talk about those traits and help you to assess your readiness to begin online learning. We will uncover strategies you can use, along with those online learner characteristics, to help ensure your success.
Qualities of an Online Student
There are certain traits and characteristics you will need in order to successfully complete your online education. Below is an incomplete list of some of those traits. The online learner:
- is self-directed
- is self-motivated
- is not afraid to seek out help
- possesses strong written communication skills
- always reads directions carefully
- has excellent time management skills
- has reliable access to a computer and the Internet
Organization and Time Management
The most important key to your success online will be your ability to organize your time and your resources. While the course materials will be structured online, there is no structure in terms of specific meeting times to help you meter your time. Online courses are available for you to work on any time of the day. We recommend making a schedule that sets aside time specifically for your course work. Plan to login daily when you first begin a course until you find a pace that meets your needs and the demands of the course. Even if you find you do not need to login to your class every day, it is wise to set aside time daily to evaluate your progress to make sure you are keeping up with the flow of the course. If you have a question about an assignment, ask your question early on to ensure that you get a response with enough time to complete the assignment.
Get Familiar with the Course
You will have access to your courses one week before the official start date. You should take that time to get acquainted with the course navigation and calendar so you can plan accordingly. Refer to the Syllabus and Course Calendar frequently – each course is arranged differently, with different assignments, readings, etc. – these, along with your instructor, will be your guide through the course.
Technical problems can and do occur – your Internet connection may go down, your computer may have problems, or Canvas may have problems. Be prepared. Have the email for tech support (firstname.lastname@example.org) and your instructor(s) written down so you have them readily available.
Don’t wait until the last minute to complete course work so that technical difficulties, when they arise, won’t derail your progress in the course. Keep a copy of all your assignments in cloud storage or on a mobile storage device for portability and for a backup.
Keep Up with the Latest Info
Read all announcements posted by your instructor on the Announcements page to keep up with current information regarding your course. Also, keep up with reading the questions posted in the Q&A discussion board (often called “Raise Your Hand” or “Ask the Class”) to see what sort of issues your classmates are encountering – you may have the same questions as they do.
Staying involved in the class means completing your readings and individual assignments but also fully engaging in the class discussions. This engagement helps you to become an active learner, take greater responsibility for your own learning, and feel like a part of the class. While each instructor will have their own criteria for minimum participation in class discussions, active participation and going beyond minimum expectations will help you to get the most out of the discussion.
Alert Your Support System
Help your family and friends understand your commitment to your course work. Their understanding will go a long way in allowing you time to study.
There are many online and print resources available to help you identify success strategies for online learning. Feel free to browse the web for ideas. About.com has some relevant tips to share.