Are You a Good Online Student?

posted in: Study Tips 4

Studying online is really convenient. It gives you the flexibility to combine study with work and other things. But succeeding at online study is not always easy.

Some people who are good students in a normal classroom environment struggle with the online format. Often, it's because they're used to getting motivation from face-to-face interaction and being in a group. They have different learning characteristics from people who are naturally focused online and do great as distance learners.

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

  • Online courses require just as much serious study time as traditional classroom courses.
  • They also require computer skills and learning strategies.

To see if you’re likely to be a good online student, see how many items of the following qualities you have.

1. Computer skills

Online learners need basic computer skills. These include the ability to create and edit documents, install and manage software, and find information resources on the net. Being able to use Microsoft Excel spreadsheets can also help for many tasks.

Most online universities have student orientation programs. These teach students how to use the university's online learning systems and other online 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 uni may be able to help, and there are plenty of technical support forums on the net.

2. Reading and writing skills

Reading and writing is the main way of communicating in an online class. Although there may be hard copies of course material, 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 an online degree. If you type less than 25-30 words per minute, consider doing a typing training course before starting.

3. A good study environment

A helpful start on your journey to academic success is to set up a good study environment. Get some peace and quiet. You will benefit from 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.

4. Persistence

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

A good way to be persistent 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 going to university online starts to wear off!

5. Independent motivation

To be a good online student, you should 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 attending university? Are you determined and self-motivated to succeed?

There are many worthwhile reasons to work hard at university. You might want to boost your career prospects. Or perhaps it’s personal pride in achieving academically. When it comes down to it, getting pleasure out of learning and improving will give you motivation to do the next bit of work.

6. Communication skills

Communication skills are important in online learning because 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 to communicate with people. Online universities 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.

7. Time management skills

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 good online student 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. I'd suggest reviewing the syllabus for each unit and constructing a plan for completing major assignments.

4 Responses

  1. Bev Cunliffe

    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.

  2. Brett Tandy

    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. Dominic

    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

      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.