Part of being an online educator is teaching students how to conduct themselves in the online classroom. A survey of successful adult online learners provides an excellent resource for this advice.
In a survey (see reference below) of a group of adult students who graduated from online graduate degree programs with a cumulative GPA of 3.5 or better, respondents cited the following skills and techniques that helped them achieve success:
- Develop a time-management strategy. Online learners have more freedom when it comes to when they will do work for their courses. This is clearly a benefit for busy adults, but it can also be a challenge for those who lack self-discipline. The students in the survey recommended creating a schedule up front that dedicates specific times to course-related activities—such as logging on and participating in class as well as doing research and reading—and sticking to this schedule.
- Make the most of online discussions. Since threaded discussions are the main form of communication in a typical online course, students need to recognize the benefits of this form of communication. For example, as one student stated, interacting with other students can be a fun part of the course. Another suggested developing relationships with classmates by responding to several student postings with meaningful messages, not simply “good post.”
- Use it or lose it. Students in this survey stated that in order to retain knowledge, it was important to apply it in their work or in threaded discussions.
- Make asking questions useful to learning. Students in this survey made an effort to research and craft questions to engage each other and the instructor.
- Stay motivated. A common sentiment among students in this survey was the need to stay motivated, through the desire either to graduate or to achieve a good grade. One student stated that it helped to team up with a classmate to motivate each other to finish assignments on time.
- Make connections with fellow students. Students in the survey stressed the value of interacting with each other and how they got to know each other through threaded discussions.
Roper, Alan R. “The Development of Online Student Skills: Successful Online Students Share Their Secrets.” Proceedings of the Technology, Colleges & Community Worldwide Online Conference 2007.
Excerpted from Tips from the Pros: Six Suggestions for Successful Online Learning. Online Classroom, October 2007.