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The online learning process requires a commitment to independent study, staying on task, and completing work on time. Typically, online students who are successful possess the following qualities:

  • Be open minded about sharing life, work, and educational experiences as part of the learning process.
    Introverts as well as extroverts find that the online process requires them to utilize their experiences. Online communication eliminates the visual barriers that hinder some individuals in expressing themselves. Additionally, learners are given time to reflect on the information before responding.
  • Be able to communicate through writing.
    In the online environment, a lot of communication is written, so it is critical that learners feel comfortable in expressing themselves in writing.
  • 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 workload and deadlines.
  • Be willing to "speak up" if problems arise.
    Many of the non-verbal communication mechanisms that instructors use in determining whether students are having trouble (confusion, frustration, boredom, absence, etc.) are not present in the online classroom. If a learner is experiencing difficulty on any level (either with the technology or with the course content), they must communicate this immediately. Otherwise the instructor will never know what is wrong.
  • Be willing and able to commit to 4 to 15 hours per week per course.
    Online courses are not easier than traditional courses. In fact, many students will say it requires much more time and commitment. Successful students know upfront the time commitment necessary to successfully complete online coursework.
  • Have practically unlimited access to a computer and Internet Service.
    Course content and interaction are accessed by computer through the Internet. Some content and activities may be accessible by mobile devices or slow connections, but most online learning will be best accomplished with a computer that has stable broadband service.
  • Feel that high quality learning can take place without going to a traditional classroom.
    Learners who feel that a traditional classroom is a prerequisite to learning may be more comfortable taking traditional courses. Online learning is not for everybody. A student that wants to be on campus attending traditional classes is probably not going to be happy online.
  • An online student is expected to:
    • Participate in the online classroom and check in regularly

    • Be able to work with others in completing projects

    • Be comfortable with technology

    • Be able to manage time effectively and complete assignments on time

    • Enjoy communicating in writing.


Adapted from What Makes a Successful Online Student?