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Characteristics of Online Learner

​​​To be a student enrolled in college full-time takes dedication. For a non-traditional student working full-time, raising a family and enjoying an active lifestyle, dedication is also a must-have. Whether you are a traditional or non-traditional student, taking a class online or pursuing your entire degree online, that level of dedication must be even higher.

Pursuing education online requires students to be motivated, focused, prepared and proactive. While students in online classes interact with their professor and their classmates, much of the learning is initiated by the student when he or she logs into class, thoroughly reads through discussion board postings and composes responses, undertakes homework assignments and studies for exams.

What characteristics are needed to be successful in an online class? We’ve listed a few of them below:

Initiative: Online students motivate themselves to learn. Online students work successfully on their coursework by planning their learning. Plan how you will stay on track over the duration of your class. Map the upcoming weeks of a class out on a calendar so you know when assignments are due and exams must be taken in relation to work and family commitments. Make a back-up plan if you should suddenly fall behind. How will you catch up? Planning out your coursework will help you to build a strategy for learning and keep you on the path towards successful completion!

Persistence: Persistence is holding steadfastly and firmly to a purpose. Every online student needs persistence. Your education is to be worked at and labored over. It is the level of effort put in that makes earning your degree so rewarding in the end. Online students have to persevere when they encounter technical issues, when homework assignments and course content is not coming easily, or when it’s already been a long day and homework is waiting. Online students quickly learn their sources of support: the CMU Help Desk when technical problems arise, reaching out to your course instructor or academic advisor for curricular questions, your family also provides a great deal of support and encouragement. CMU staff assists with questions on registration, course offerings, financial aid, billing statements and more. Know your sources of support and keep a sheet readily available with phone numbers, email addresses and favorite web pages bookmarked.

Organization: One of the most vital characteristics needed for online learning is organization. It is critical for creating the proper balance between your family, your work and your schooling. Create an Online Class Binder, complete with syllabus, a calendar marking important due dates, instructional materials, and class notes. Create a study area that is quiet, with good lighting, and has the tools needed for learning readily available. Ending a class successfully starts with an organized, well-prepared beginning.

Engagement: Online learning does not mean on your own. You are in class with other students and an instructor who all have much to offer. Reach out to them, communicate with them, learn from them. At your fingertips, you have access to a diverse population that has something meaningful to contribute—take advantage of that. Friendships formed in class can provide a great deal of support and motivation to you outside of the class. While you and your classmates will differ in geographical locations, occupations, even culture, you all have one thing in common—your desire to obtain a quality education through online learning. So get to know your classmates, they will prove a vital resource to you and you to them.

Aspiration: To be successful in your education, you have to want the education you have chosen. As you embark on your online courses, begin with the end in mind. What do you hope to accomplish? Are you looking for additional job skills and training? Are you wanting to earn that degree that has long-eluded you? Is a degree going to help you secure that promotion you want? Establishing goals for yourself will help you to stay focused as you move from course to course. A goal will motivate you to continue and help you to take initiative and to persevere. Write your goal down in large letters and place it where you will easily see it. It will help to remind you of what’s important.