Online learner with successful characteristics

7 Characteristics of Successful Online Learners

Only a certain percentage of the population are really cut out for successful online learning. A few characteristics of high achievers come with maturity, such as the ability to set and achieve goals. But other qualities are more innate and difficult to acquire.

Students who do well in a normal classroom environment may or may not succeed with the online format. A problem could arise, for example, if you are used to getting motivation from being part of a group. Successful online students have a particular set of characteristics.

Online learner on a break.
Online learner struggling with concentration.

Are you considering doing an online course? Good for you! But first, make sure you’re ready to succeed. Online learning offers tremendous benefits but some students start with unrealistic expectations.

Online courses require just as much serious study time as traditional classroom courses. They also require personal qualities, study skills and learning strategies. To see if you’re likely to be a good online student, see how many of the following characteristics apply to you.

1. Reading and Writing Skills

Reading and writing is the main way you communicate in an online class. High proficiency will allow you to get through course material quicker and interact effectively with instructors, classmates and study pals.

Although hard copies of course material may be available or can be printed, you should be comfortable reading documents on a computer screen for lengthy periods.

You should also be OK at typing information. Some tests and quizzes have multiple choice questions. But many of your assignments will involve typing short or long answers.

If your written English language skills are weak, you may not be ready to attempt a difficult online course. If you type less than 25-30 words per minute, consider doing a typing training course before starting.

2. Persistent Nature When Studying Online

Determined climber

Persistence is vital to success in online learning. You need a can-do attitude. A good online student tolerates technical problems, seeks help when needed, works consistently each day, and persists through personal challenges.

Social factors form an important consideration in theories of student persistence. If studying online makes you feel isolated, the chances rise that you may lose interest and even drop out.

Successful online learners have personality types that allow them to cope without face-to-face interaction. They could find comradery elsewhere, successfully connect to classmates or instructors online, or have low social needs.

One way to cultivate persistence is to set up a manageable study schedule that you can realistically stick to. Students who do well make progress each day. It is especially important to push through after the initial novelty of studying online starts to wear off!

3. Decent Computer Skills

Successful online learners have reasonably good computer skills to make studying easier and more efficient.

Competencies include the ability to: create and edit documents, get on top of software, and find information resources quickly. Being able to use Microsoft Excel spreadsheets can also help for many tasks.

Most online universities and colleges have student orientation programs. These tutorials teach students how to use the institution’s online learning systems and other tools.

Being good with computers is most important when problems arise. You can save a great deal of time by solving problems quickly.

Bear in mind that, if you have a problem, you can bet others have encountered it too. Other students or the education provider may help. And there are plenty of technical support forums that can be easily found online.

4. A Good Study Environment

Woman studying online in a peaceful environment
Find a quiet place to study

A helpful start on your journey to academic success is to have a good study environment. Do you have access to a quiet place to study without distractions from things like television, family or roommates?

You will do better at online study if you able to maintain a tranquil study setting out of habit.

  • Avoid games. Consider uninstalling any computer games to avoid temptation. Or keep them on a different computer. Gamers are generally poor students.
  • Turn off your mobile phone. Let friends and family members know the hours that you will be unavailable.
  • Beware the black hole of internet surfing. It is easy to lose track of time.

In setting up your student office, consider ergonomics.

  • Adjust the height of your chair, keyboard, and screen for maximum sustained comfort.
  • Forearms and thighs should be level and parallel to the floor.
  • Wrists should be straight while typing.

Also, set up effective lighting and comfortable seating. Lighting in the room should be as bright as the computer screen to avoid eye strain.

5. Communication Skills

Communication skills is an important characteristic for successful online learning.

With an online course, you are aren’t normally speaking to people in person. Clear written communication avoids misunderstandings. Writing in a friendly way can elicit more helpful interactions with classmates and instructors. Follow these tips:

  • Use the tools provided by the university or college to communicate with people. Online education providers provide multiple ways for students to communicate with teachers and other staff. These might include e-mail, discussion groups, chat rooms, phones, and even text messaging. Instructors want to help you to succeed and will answer your questions. Learn to use social media, not just for online study but also to gain useful professional skills.
  • Use appropriate style and language. Many students are used to a very informal style of writing in chat rooms, blogs, text messages, and so forth. When communicating in a university setting, you should normally write in full, with grammatically correct sentences and a respectful tone.
  • Because of distance, it is all too easy to write things out of anger or frustration that you wouldn’t say in person. This will not get you very far. Politeness and courtesy normally will.

6. Time Management Skills

Time management in an office
Time allocation gives online study structure

Managing time well can make online study a whole lot easier. Most courses are not taught in real time. There are no set times for classes. So, it is up to you to create some structure.

A successful online learner doesn’t procrastinate, is able to stick to a weekly study schedule, and completes assignments ahead of time without reminders.

Effective time-management skills can be learned if you put the effort. Lasting benefits come from making time management a habit. One study tip is to review the syllabus for each unit and construct a plan for completing major assignments.

7. Independent Motivation

Successful online learners really want to succeed. Online learning requires independence, internal motivation, personal responsibility and a healthy dose of maturity.

Have you given some thought to your personal reasons for studying online? Are you determined and self-motivated to succeed?

Gaining pleasure from learning and improving can motivate you to keep doing the next bit of study. Students can find inspiration by contemplating worthwhile reasons to work hard at an online course. You might want to boost your career prospects. Or perhaps it’s personal pride in achieving academically.

5 Responses

  1. Dominic
    | Reply

    I think one concern about studying online is that the student has all the excuses NOT to do the work. It can be discouraging to study online because there are many distractions like Facebook, texting, and relaxing. One should have strong discipline to succeed.

    • Andrew Lancaster
      | Reply

      Agree with you Dominic that discipline is essential. It’s something you can learn though. Helps to really commit to doing well at online study from the beginning and create good habits.

  2. Brett Tandy
    | Reply

    I’ve completed several online courses and with each course the only barrier to completion was myself. When I focused on dedicating the time I needed to get the curriculum done, I was successful. My computer skills have always been excellent and I’ve always given myself a good study environment, but if I’m honest with myself I’ve always had a few issue with motivating myself when there’s something more enjoyable to do and also with my time management. It looks like I’m beginning to get them under control now though.

  3. Bev Cunliffe
    | Reply

    What I lack in in computer skills I gain in self motivation, I want to suceed. I’m hoping the computer skills catch me up. I’ll be using Lynda Campus to help me.

  4. Karl MacGavin
    | Reply

    Fantastic list. Here are two favorite pieces of advice: 1) “Beware the black hole of internet surfing. It is easy to lose track of time” and 2) “Time Management Skills.” If you fall victim to 1), you won’t have a chance of succeeding with 2). I found I had to disconnect from the Internet when I was doing any online classes. Otherwise, I had no chance of getting my studies done.

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