Skills for online learners


Online learners may learn most effectively if they possess certain skills. You don't necessarily need to have these skills already. With time, you may be able to develop these habits through practice.


To earn a degree online on your own time and in your own space takes a certain amount of commitment. If you're in a self-paced program, you are the one setting deadlines and organizing material to learn. Being self-motivated means that you set your priorities independently. Good time management is important. Make sure to create checklists and calendars to stay on track toward completing your course. Pacing work can ensure that you finish a class within your desired time frame.


An important part of any education is not being afraid of making mistakes or asking questions. These are essential parts of the learning process. You should also be aware when you need extra help or practice. Speak up by emailing your teacher or asking a question in a course chat room (if applicable to your program). Others may be grateful you asked - it's likely you weren't the only one with a question. Take the initiative to direct your learning with questions and discussion.


While being self-motivated and speaking up when you're confused are important, you should also be self-aware. Be honest about your progress in a course to make sure you're on track. It's also good to acknowledge when you've done better than expected, and think about what made a particular course go well. Assessing yourself can help you learn from your mistakes and remember what approaches work well. Studying effectively for you could be different than for your classmate, but as long as you know what works, you can be prepared to learn. Keep track of your progress, successes and mistakes.

Figure out what materials and resources you need to learn effectively. If you know that you work better at certain times of day, try to be consistent with your schedule. If you focus better at a coffee shop than at home, work there when possible.


Can you successfully finish a project or assignment on your own? If you understand how to do most of your learning on a self-directed basis, you may be a successful online learner. Your education may not include group projects or in-person discussions, so consider if this environment is right for you. Some students learn better independently, without the distraction of classmates and the campus environment. If this sounds right for you, the online learning environment could help keep you focused.

Basic computer skills

While you probably won't need advanced computer skills, you should at least have basic ones. Are you familiar with typing, the Internet and email? If not, make sure to get these skills to a basic level before starting a course. The medium of instruction shouldn't be a distraction to your learning. Also make sure to have reliable computer and Internet access, since this can make the process easier for you.

Most of all, allow yourself to be open and receptive. Learning new ideas will be easier if you give yourself the opportunity to see the world in new ways.

About Anjali Desai

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