There are three essential dimensions of being a successful online learner:

Personal traits

Similar to the classroom successful learners in these classes are motivated to do well. The online environment for learners lacks a level of structure that many students have been accustomed to throughout their educational journey. This change in delivery requires students to be self-disciplined and able to function well independently. The ability to plan and pace your work and complete assignments on time differentiates between those who do well and those are less successful. Student who need structure and others to hold them accountable will find this environment problematic. Effective time management skills have repeatedly been identified as critical for learners in this environment. With the lack of assigned class times and only virtual contact with classmates there is greater emphasis on self-management in this learning environment. Students who are good at speaking up and addressing problems when they arise can function effectively in this environment.

Academic skills

From an academic perspective the online environment is text heavy. In an online environment the opportunity to articulate and discuss things verbally is reduced or non-existent. The text rich environment requires the ability to read and write effectively, an important skill for online learners. Writing in many forms makes up a significant portion of graded work in these courses.

The ability to write effectively and convincingly must also take into account certain thinking skills. The ability to think critically and logically can be an asset in structuring writing for this environment.

Comfort with technology

Students will be using technology for the duration of their program and are expected to have the following skills.

  • Basic keyboarding skills
  • Ability to use word processing software
  • Ability to send and receive email
  • Ability to navigate webpages
  • Ability to save and upload or download a file or image
  • Ability to conduct basic search and or research online.
  • Troubleshoot problems by using HELP feature in software
  • Basic ability to deal with hardware problems (loose cable).
  • Ability to understand basic technical directions from helpdesk staff.
  • Ability to install software

In many cases the technology will work fine however in some cases due to the nature of the learner being potentially at a distance from campus a comfort with technology is an asset. Students should also consider a back-up plan to access a computer in the event they have technology issues at a critical time in the term.