What are the characteristics of successful e-learners? What does it take to succeed in an online distance learning degree or program? Knowing something about learning styles can help you determine if online learning, e-learning, or distance education is for you because the mode of interaction and system of instructional delivery is quite different from what many students are used in face-to-face (f2f) classes.
Knowing the traits of successful e-learners helps you determine the best study habits and help you in the decision-making process. Actually, knowing this information will also help you in traditional campus classes as well. Let as look at successful e-learners and strategies for online distance learning. There are some main learning styles.
Howard Gardner’s Multiple Intelligences speak further to this. Many people fall under the categories of visual, auditory, and tactile/kinesthetic learning styles. This means:
- Reading (visual)
- Listening (auditory)
- Seeing (visual)
- Speaking (auditory)
- Doing (tactile/kinesthetic)
The first three on the list are passive types of learning, while the last two are active types of learning. Most people remember that which they do (active) while passive learning means that you may have to repeat the instructions or steps that are required. How does this relate to learning online? Well, in online classes there is little or no physical and social interaction so one needs to interact with the instructional content actively e.g. viewing audio, reading notes, and listening to audio (podcasts) and at the same time be active through online communication through discussion boards, chats, email, etc.
Motivation is a huge determinant of online learning success. Being motivated means that you need to be interested in the courses and program, keep in touch with the instructor, classmates, readings etc and see the light at the end of the tunnel. You may have heard of the ARCS Model of motivation. ARCS, a concept coined by John Keller stands for Attention, Relevance, Confidence, and Satisfaction.
- Attention: Establishing and maintaining curiosity and learner arousal
- Relevance: Linking the learning situation to the needs and motives of the learner
- Confidence: Learner attributing positive learning experiences to their individual behavior
- Satisfaction: Developing the desire to continue the pursuit of similar goals
Goal setting and personal rewards i.e. both intrinsic and extrinsic motivation will keep you going. Successful e-learners have adequate planning goals and setting milestones is certainly helpful. For example, tell yourself, “I will have completed half my coursework in one year” and then create a program of study to help you accomplish that. That will give you a degree of satisfaction and the energy to keep going. Always set aside a study place and time with no distractions. For example the library, computer lab or your study room at home may be the best place to concentrate and get work done.
Successful e-learners know how to balance work, school, family, and leisure. Don’t forget to surround yourself with positive family, friends, and co-workers who will root for you! Also don’t forget to take time off to relax and recoup. Do something different and fun from time to time. That will keep you refreshed. All said and done, hard work, determination, discipline gets you to the finish line!