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A successful online student …
… takes responsibility for his/her own learning
Online learning can be a powerful, stimulating, engaging experience for the student who can work and think independently. However, since most—if not all—of the learning takes place on your own time, you will not have the kind of direct supervision you would in a classroom. Online learning therefore requires a significant commitment from you. All education comes down to what you’re willing to invest in the experience—this is particularly true in the online environment. Commitment, self-discipline and self-motivation are all key qualities to ensuring success in an online course!
… understands that online is a convenient way to learn—not an easier one
Online courses require at least the same commitment as face-to-face courses do. You should expect to spend at least nine hours per week per course studying and should plan to log into the course five to seven times per week. Keeping up with the work schedule in online courses is imperative—once you get behind, it’s nearly impossible to catch up. And most courses are collaborative, involving discussion board postings and replies. Not being prepared and not participating fully in these discussions is equivalent to skipping class. Hone your time management skills before enrolling in an online course!
… is comfortable and confident with written communication
Reading and writing are the basis of most online courses, so it’s critical that you feel comfortable with this form of communication. While some courses contain modules that include videos or other activities, all of them require significant amounts of reading. And nearly all of your communication with your classmates and your instructor will be in writing. If these are weak areas for you, you will want to address those issues prior to enrolling or while enrolled in an online course. The PSU Writing Center is available to assist you.
… is willing to be a member of an online community
There are a number of ways that you can ensure you get the most out of your online experience. First, participate fully. Engage regularly in the discussions and be willing to share you personal, professional and educational experiences. You can get to know your classmates through the dialogue that is created in an online course environment—sometimes even better than in a face-to-face class. And the same goes for your instructor. Be sure to contact your professor—especially if you are having problems. Although the course is offered online he/she is still your instructor and will be there to guide and assist you as needed.
… owns or has easy access to a computer with Internet access and e-mail
You don’t have to be a computer expert to be successful in online learning—but you must have access to a personal computer with reliable Internet access, as well as a basic level of competency in using them. Owning a computer with Internet access from your home is ideal but many students use the computer labs on campus or at their offices to complete their work.
… has basic computer skills and is willing and open to learning new ones
We said you don’t have to be a computer expert to be successful in online learning. However, there are some basic technical skills you should have mastered prior to enrolling in an online course.