Tips for Being a Successful Online Learner
1. Be self-motivated and self-disciplined.
With the freedom and flexibility of the online environment comes responsibility. The online process takes a real commitment and discipline to keep up with the flow of the process.
2. Log on to your course every single day.
…or a minimum of 3-5 days a week. Once you get into the online system, you will be eager to see who has commented on your postings and read the feedback of your instructor and peers. You will also be curious to see who has posted something new that you can comment on. If you let too many days go by without logging on to your course discussion group, you will get behind and find it very difficult to catch up
3. Be polite and respectful.
Just because you are anonymous, doesn’t mean you should let yourself go. Remember, you are dealing with real people on the other end. Being polite and respectful is not only common sense, it is absolutely obligatory for a productive and supportive online environment. In a positive online environment, you will feel valued by your instructor, valued by your classmates, and your own work will have greater value as well.
4. Be willing and able to commit to 4 to 6 hours per week per course.
5. Be able to communicate through writing.
In the virtual classroom, nearly all communication is written, so it is critical that learners feel comfortable in expressing themselves in writing. Be sure to use the spell check before posting responses.
6. Be willing to “speak up” if problems arise.
Many of the non-verbal communication mechanisms that instructors use in determining whether learners are having problems (confusion, frustration, boredom, absence, etc.) are not possible in the online paradigm. If a learner is experiencing difficulty on any level (either with the technology or with the course content), s/he must communicate this immediately. Otherwise the instructor will never know what is wrong.
7. Be able to meet the minimum requirements for the program.
The requirements for online are no less than that of any other quality educational program. The successful learner will view online as a convenient way to receive their education, not an easier way.
8. Accept critical thinking and decision making as part of the learning process.
The learning process requires the learner to make decisions based on facts as well as experience. Assimilating information and executing the right decisions requires critical thought.
9. Have access to a computer and a modem.
The communication medium is a computer, phone line, and modem; the learner must have access to the necessary equipment.
10. Be able to think ideas through before responding.
Meaningful and quality input into the virtual classroom is an essential part of the learning process. Time is given in the process to allow for the careful consideration of responses. The testing and challenging of ideas is encouraged; you will not always be right, just be prepared to accept a challenge.
11. Be open-minded about sharing life, work, and educational experiences as part of the learning process.
Introverts as well as extroverts find that online learning requires them to utilize their experiences. This forum for communication eliminates the visual barriers that hinder some individuals in expressing themselves. In addition, the learner is given time to reflect on the information before responding.
* Adapted from the Illinois Online Network