Are you ready to be an online student?

Online Learning Self-Assessment Quiz

Take this quiz to see if you are ready for online learning.

Online learning provides:

  • greater flexibility and convenience in scheduling time
  • timelines for coursework completion, they are not self-paced
  • travel time and cost savings: you decide when and where to learn
  • additional time to reflect before responding to discussions and other activities
  • an environment where the independent learner flourishes

These are some general skill sets and learning characteristics that are necessary for a successful online education experience.

Learning Characteristics

Are you independent and self-motivated? Are you self-disciplined and self-directed? While some of your academic work may be collaborative and take place in groups, you will also be expected to complete many assignments on your own.

Reading will also be an important part of your online experience. Do you like to read and do you have good reading comprehension? A lot of your instructions will also be provided in writing.

A willingness to learn new things is a must! Not only will you learn about the topics covered in class, you will also need to learn how to do new things, like actively participate in small group discussions and log into a virtual classroom.

Online learning fits learners who are:

  • self-directed
  • effective time managers
  • able to access a computer with reliable internet daily
  • competent working with a variety of computer applications; navigating email; and uploading, saving, copying and opening documents
  • willing to problem-solve independently  

Communication Skills

Writing - Are you comfortable with your writing skills? A lot of communication in your course will involve written work in the form of papers, projects, and discussion forums as well as email with your instructor.

Speaking Up - Are you comfortable asking questions of your instructor and peers? The online format means that you will receive a lot of your instructions in written form. You should feel comfortable asking questions for clarification whenever you have them. You should also feel comfortable participating in class discussions that might take place using web-conferencing technology.

Reading – Much of the material covered in a typical online class will require you to learn from reading. This may include textbooks, Internet-based materials and posts to discussion boards.

Listening - Many, if not all, of your lectures will be presented in video format. The lectures are typically condensed to a 10-15 minute presentation and require your active listening skills to integrate the video lectures with the readings and the other requirements of the course.

Time Management Skills

Time management skills play a role in all aspects of our lives as we try to balance multiple priorities. How much time do you have to devote to coursework during the week? Do you need reminders for deadlines?

Online courses require you to structure your own schedule. You will need to balance your time around the assignments/requirements of the class. Without the need to show up in a particular place at a designated time each week, some learners find it all too easy to put work off until the last minute.

For example, you would be expected to spend between 7-10 hours per week during a regular 12-week online course.

Stress Management Skills

Stress management is often linked to time management. As we work to fulfill all of our personal and professional responsibilities, we also need to master techniques to manage the stress that comes along with hectic schedules. How are your problem-solving skills? Even the most prepared student will encounter unexpected situations occasionally. What would you do if your computer stopped working or your internet connection was lost while working on a class assignment? Do you have a support system in place? This system may include a combination of people and resources that can provide you with assistance when you need it. For example, help is available at the following locations:

Technology Skills

Online courses rely heavily on technology. You will need to be confident working with a computer, accessing information via the internet, and using email as a primary means of communication. Are you comfortable with email attachments, troubleshooting an internet connection, and downloading software?

Are You Ready for Online Learning?

Becoming a successful online student takes time and practice. With each new assignment and course you will develop your skills and enhance your online learning characteristics. Understand what to expect and where you need to focus your energy before you start. What can you do to prepare yourself for success in an online class?

Tips for Being a Successful Online Learner

  • For a fully online course, log in daily. When it comes to discussion-based activities you will be required to post and reply to others’ posts. Developing a community of engagement requires regular and ongoing contact with colleagues in your group (anticipate informal, small group work) and in the class in general
  • Make sure to review the Course Syllabus thoroughly. Your instructor will provide a comprehensive syllabus which will have direction for the various components in the course, deadlines, and explanation on how to interact with your colleagues and with the instructor. Make note of all deadlines because your interaction will have an effect on your peers, especially those with whom you are working with in a small group.
  • Take responsibility for your own learning and plan to be self-directed. Don’t expect the Instructor to provide you with all the information and direction you need in the course.
  • Stay on top of your required reading assignments, lecture videos and discussions.
  • Become good at research and analysis using the online library support. Asuume that taking initiative on your part will be positively received and will maximize your learning.
  • Rely on and be responsible to your peers in your course. Be willing to provide good, constructive feedback to one another.
  • If you feel lost or confused, ask your instructor or peers.
  • Be prepared for the amount of time online learning takes and make time for it in your day and week.
  • Work on being flexible and patient. Life intrudes and technical difficulties arise. You will need to be able to “go with the flow” at times.Created by:

Dalhousie University
Centre for Learning and Teaching
Revision April 15, 2015

Adapted from:
Online Retrieved 25/07/2014

Northwestern State University of Louisiana Retrieved 25/07/2014

Northwestern Michigan College Retrieved 25/07/2014

*adapted from Pallof, R.M. and Pratt, K. (2003) The virtual student: A profile and guide to working with online learners. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass. retrieved from 25/07/2014