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How to Become a More Effective Online Learner | Page 2

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Understanding the Issue and Your Situation

Before the Covid-19 pandemic, educational institutions that offered virtual courses made sure students understood that online learning is not for everyone. Students who were interested in taking an online course were often asked to complete a questionnaire to assess whether or not they were good candidates for online learning. (For examples, see Gannon University and Lane.)

In 2020, the Covid-19 pandemic forced students into virtual learning (also known as remote-learning) whether or not taking online courses was a good fit for them. If you feel that online courses are not for you, you may even have considered putting your education on hold. Other students may not even have that option.

However, you can take steps to become more effective in virtual learning courses and prevent the negative consequences of putting your education on hold. As much as possible, you can adapt and take control of the situation. Who knows? You may even start enjoying online courses. You may even choose to take them when “things go back to normal” online courses can be very convenient. Besides, opportunities for virtual learning are everywhere, even outside of school.

What Makes Online Learners Effective?

Effective learners, particularly online learners, have a number of common characteristics.

Effective online learners are goal oriented. They take the small steps needed to achieve educational tasks and understand the main goal is to learn and improve their skills.

Effective online learners work well independently. In online courses, the instructor provides learning opportunities; however, it is up to the student to complete them on time and stay on track.

Effective online learners have good time-management skills. Rather than getting to their lessons “when they feel like it,” they develop their own schedules to complete their courses consistently and without wasting time.

Effective online learners have good communication skills. Without the benefit of oral communication, online students must communicate their ideas well, particularly in writing.

Effective online learners are good readers and writers. Most of the information in a remote course is communicated in writing (e.g., instructions for assignments, lesson content ). Unless you can read and write effectively, it will be difficult to understand and complete tasks well. You must also write clearly to complete tasks.

Effective online learners have good technology skills. Of course, you need to have basic technology skills so you can log on to your courses, find materials, download or attach documents, and so on. You should have a basic understanding of how to troubleshoot your software, hardware, and internet connection.

Effective online learners have a good study environment. They set up a study environment that is conducive to learning: quiet, comfortable, and equipped with what you need.

Effective online learners are motivated to succeed. They are motivated to learn and want to complete course tasks well so that they learn the content.

What if That’s Not You?

When they learn about all the characteristics of effective online learners, some students may feel discouraged. They may think, “I don’t fit the profile very well. Does that mean I will never succeed learning online?”

Don’t jump to conclusions! First, not all online courses are the same;, so your experiences with online courses will also vary. Even if you took an online course before, it is probably not representative of all online courses.

Secondly, here is the good news:

... even if you lack many of the characteristics of effective online learners, there are things you can do to change your behavior and become more effective.

Can You Change?

When faced with a course that you were “forced” into, you still have choices.

  • You can complain endlessly about it, which will only make you feel even more frustrated and discouraged, or
  • you can take control of the situation and seek to minimize any shortcomings.

Hopefully, you will choose to adapt to the so-called “new normal,” change you learning behaviors, and adjust your mindset.. Changing long-held attitudes is not always easy and takes a deliberate effort; however, you are more likely to find solutions if you are willing to take active steps.

Take These Recommended Steps

The next portion of this course will walk you through several steps you can take to become more effective as an online learner. Use the buttons below to navigate through the course.

Accompanying Materials

It is recommended you should download and print this PDF document to complete some of the tasks.