Characteristics of a Successful Online Learner

Students are encouraged to consider enrolling in online courses through the Virtual Instruction Program and Virtual Virginia even if they do not have any previous online learning experience.  While online learning is an environment where some students thrive, it is not equally suited to meet the needs of every student.  Before signing up for an online class students should consider to what degree they possess characteristics of successful online learners listed below.

  1. Self-Motivated
    • Online learning is not the “easy” way out; online courses often require as much time and work to complete as traditional face-to-face course.
    • Students must be motivated to succeed on their own by having a legitimate reason, paired with a goal that is attainable, for taking an online course.
  1. Independent, Interested, and Inquisitive
    • Online learning requires students to develop their own study habits, time management skills, and discipline to complete coursework without being prompted by a teacher.
    • Successful online learners enjoy new experiences, including learning how to learn online, and they naturally want to know more about the subject matter they are studying.
  1. Computer Literate
    • Students do not have to have advanced computer skills to succeed in an online class. They do need access to a laptop or desktop computer with internet access, a valid email account that they check every 24 hours and respond to messages, and knowledge of how to open, create, and save documents in a word processing program.
    • Being “tech savvy” using social media and mobile devices does not translate to success in an online course.
  1. Effective Communicator
    • Successful online learners are comfortable using email and discussion forums to communicate with others; they must be able to write clearly and maturely.
    • Students need to be able to advocate for themselves if they encounter a problem, or don’t understand a concept, by reaching out to their teacher for help before they fall behind in the class.

Complete the “Is Online Learning for Me?” survey, provided by Washington State Board for Community and Technical Colleges, to see if you would be a good candidate for taking an online course.