Essential skills for online learning

Once you've completed the self-assessment, you may have some idea as to how your skills match with online learning expectations. Whether your responses indicated that you are the ideal candidate, or the survey indicated that you might not be quite ready, there are many things that you can control to improve your ability to succeed as an online learner. Next, let's address those essential skills and consider suggestions and strategies to prepare for success!

Some general considerations:

Online Study Skills and Strategies

Online Learning Requires:

The ability to be self-directed in your learning.

  1. Self-discipline and self-motivation
    Without the structure of going to class at a set time and location it can be difficult to keep attentive to course work. If you are prone to procrastination it will be an even bigger challenge for you without the reminder of having to show up to class prepared.  
  2. Effective time management
    A study by Bozarth, Chapman, & LaMonica (1) indicated that the primary thing that online students reported was the need for time management skills. When asked what they would have found helpful to know before taking an online course, they addressed the amount of time the course demanded. The reading, writing, and daily attentiveness to the course significantly increased.

          Have you planned enough time? Consider this: The rule of thumb for class time and homework is the same for both in-seat and online classes. You should expect to spend a minimum of 2-3 hours additional for each hour of class time. Therefore,
          in a 3-credit hour course you should expect to spend at least 9 hours per week to complete the readings, assignments and participate in class discussion.

How do you spend your time?

We all have the same time available to us: 24 hours in a day, and 168 hours in a week.

Use this tool to find out and review the additional helpful strategies.

Use this interactive tool to determine if your planned schedule will work for you.

Note that procrastination is an online learner's enemy! Once you fall behind in an online course, catching up can be very difficult. Make sure that you plan your time wisely.

A couple of suggestions:

  • Plan to check in to your course site a minimum of 4-5 times per week. For a class discussion to be effective it should be an ongoing dialogue, meaning that students will engage each other and not simply post a single response. Contribute early in the discussion and return often to read your classmate's contributions and reply.
  • Try to develop a consistent schedule when you will do your course work. Create a quiet study space for yourself to read course materials, work on class assignments, and engage in the class dialogue. During this time, you should log-on to your course site to participate in class discussions.

(1) Bozarth, J., Chapman, D.D., & LaMonica, L. (2004) Preparing for Distance Learning: Designing an Online Student Orientation Course. Educational Technology & Society, 7 (1), 87-106.

Page last modified July 20, 2017