Characteristics of a Successful Online Student

    Students in traditional face to face classes get to know their classmates and instructor by sharing interactions on a regular basis. The online student attends class independently of the instructor or other students.  Online classes are “asynchronous,” meaning that students and the instructor are not always logged into the class at the same time.  Online students most often complete course activities during their scheduled in school meeting period and at times convenient to their schedules.

    Here is a list of some important study habits and personality traits of successful online students.

     Independent Learners

    Online students must feel comfortable in a learning environment that places emphasis on individuals taking responsibility for their learning process.  While the online classroom includes interactions between students and instructor, they are not immediate as in traditional face-to face classroom.  Online instructors answer questions and provide clarification of information to students as they would in the traditional classroom, students must be comfortable waiting up to 24 hours for a response to their emails or Discussion Board questions.  A typical week for online student might include:

    • Reading through the current week’s assignments and lecture materials
    • Thoughtfully reading the textbooks for the class as assigned and identifying main points and supporting details
    • Responding by a deadline to discussion questions as posted by the instructor
    • “Discussing” through the Discussion Board Forum or Group Forums the responses of fellow classmates
    • Completing and submitting (by a deadline) an assignment
      Completing an assignment by deadline in a group project
    Successful online students must be self-disciplined and goal-oriented as they work to complete their weekly assignments, post responses to the Discussion Board Forums or Group Forums and work with their classmates in their online class.  Online classes move quickly so it is very important to keep pace with the online assignments, group projects, Discussion Board Forums and Group Forums.
    Proficient Readers and Communicators
    Online classes are reading intensive.  Students are required and expected to read their textbooks for detail information in order to complete their assignments.  Students must carefully read their online lectures in order to use the information effectively to complete projects and assignments.
    Basic Computer Skills
    The computer is an integral part of the online classroom.  You should feel comfortable using a computer.  You will need to complete the Course Orientation to familiarize yourself with some of the basic computer and word processing skills you will need to use while taking an online class.  You need proficiency in sending and receiving emails with attachments, cutting and pasting from a Word document, using PowerPoint, and communicating with classmates in a Discussion Board Forum.
    Set a Schedule and Keep to It
    You will have an assigned period at your school to work on your online class.  This period is not enough time to complete all the work required in your course.  Just as with a regular face to face class, you must spend time outside of class to work on your assignments and projects.  During your class period, you should complete all the Internet related activities, projects and Discussion Board Forums.  At home you should do all the textbook related activities such as answering questions or working problems assigned from the textbook. You will need to devote 5 hours a week of computer log in time during your scheduled meeting time and most courses require an additional 1-2 hours a day for homework.
    Meet Deadlines
    Online students who are successful in completing their courses know how to schedule their time to meet deadlines for classroom discussions, group work activities, and graded assignments.  Successful online students understand that others in their class are counting on their participation in class and group activities.

    Not Easily Frustrated
    Students in an online class sometimes are faced with obstacles that are out of their control: computers can break the Internet can go down; the electric power can go out.  A successful online student identifies solutions for unexpected problems by thinking ahead about solution to potential problems.  Here are some things you can do:

    • Use a friend or relative’s computer
      Go to the public library
      Go into school early or stay after school to use a computer
    • Complete assignments that do not require a computer
    • Be sure to use a flash drive to save all your work.
    Successful online students exhibit respect for the class environment and remember their “manners” when communicating to their classmates and instructor.  They understand that taking out their anger and/or frustrations on classmates and instructor is not proper “netiquette” any more than it is in a face to face classroom.

    Take Responsibility for the Learning Process
    Successful online students understand that their instructors are facilitators of their learning process and that the individual student must be a dedicated and goal-oriented self-starter.  Online students are motivated and goal-oriented.  They put their schoolwork at the top of their list of priorities.  Successful online students are not afraid to ask questions.