Student Resources - Online FAQs

Successful Qualities of an Online Learner

There are many qualities that are inherent to a successful student. Many of these qualities apply to online students. Jennifer Williamson with DistanceEducation.org describes Six Qualities of a Successful Online Student as:

1. You are Good at Time Management
2. You are an Independent Learner
3. You have Excellent Reading and Writing Skills
4. You are Not Afraid of Technology
5. You are Good at Setting Goals
6. You Have Your Own Space

These same six qualities could also apply to traditional students so let us expound on additional characteristics to consider as a distance or online learner. Jamie Littlefield, an Alternative Education Writer with the United States Distance Learning Associating, stated in About.com that:

1. Successful distance learners do just as well, if not better, without people looking over their shoulders.

While some people need teachers to keep them motivated and on-task, distance learners are able to motivate themselves. They realize that they will never be face-to-face with the people who give them assignments and grade their work, but they don’t need others to encourage them. The most successful students are self-motivated and set their own goals.

2. Successful distance learners never (or at least rarely) procrastinate.

You’ll rarely find them putting off assignments or waiting until the last moment to write their papers. These students enjoy the freedom of working at their own pace and appreciate the ability to complete their work in as much time as it takes them, instead of waiting for an entire class. However, they understand that putting off their work too often can end up adding months, if not years, to their studies.

3. Successful distance learners have good reading comprehension skills.

While most people learn by listening to lectures and taking notes, the majority of distance learners are expected to master material through reading alone. Although some distance learning courses offer video recordings and audio clips, most programs require that students understand a large amount of information that is only available through written text. These students are able to comprehend texts at the college level without the direct guidance of a teacher.

4. Successful distance learners can resist constant distractions.

Whether it’s the phone ringing off the hook, the kids screaming in the kitchen, or the allure of the tv, everyone faces distractions. Successful students know how to filter out the constant disturbances that threaten their progress. They feel comfortable turning down an invitation or letting the machine pick up the phone when they know there is work to be done.

5. Successful distance learners feel alright about missing the social elements of traditional schools.

Sure, they realize that they’ll miss out on the homecoming game, the dances, and the student elections, but they’re convinced that the independence is absolutely worth it. Whether they’re mature adult learners who aren’t interested in the fraternity hype, or younger students who get their socialization from extracurricular activities elsewhere, they are comfortable with their current social situation. In place of classroom discussion, they explore the issues with their peers through email and message boards or discuss what they’re learning with spouses or coworkers.

Definition of Online Learning

Online learning is defined as learning that takes place partially or entirely over the Internet. This definition excludes purely print-based correspondence education, broadcast television or radio, videoconferencing, videocassettes, and stand-alone educational software programs that do not have a significant Internet-based instructional component.

Online - Learning conducted totally online as a substitute or alternative to face-to-face learning.

Hybrid - Online learning components that are combined or blended with face-to-face instruction to provide learning enhancement.

In-Person - Learning conducted at 100% face-to-face.

"Adapted from Evaluation of Evidence-Based Practices in Online Learning: A Meta-Analysis and Review of Online Learning Studies, U.S. Department of Education, Office of Planning, Evaluation, and Policy Development, Policy and Program Studies Service, Revised September 2010"




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