Taking Responsibility in Your Online Course There is often a misconception that online courses are “easier” than face-to-face classes as you do not have to commute to campus and can complete the work on your own time. However, online courses can be more rigorous and students have to work harder, assume a greater individual responsibility, and be more proactive learner to be successful. The following are 10 key qualities of a successful e-learner: 1. Log into your online class every day. Be a regular class participant and contribute your ideas, perspectives, and comments, and read those of your classmates. Even if you miss a day or two, it can be very difficult to catch up with the discussion and you may feel left behind. Your instructor is not the only source of information in your course and you can gain great insight from your peers and they can learn from you as well. Testing and challenging ideas is encouraged, so be prepared to accept friendly challenges from your colleagues and your instructor. 2. Take your program and yourself seriously. Elicit the support of your colleagues, family, and friends before you start out on your online learning experience. This support system will help you tremendously since there will be times when you will need to work for extended periods of time without interruptions and your network should respect your privacy during these times. 3. Make sure you have a private space where you can study. Ensuring that you have a private working space will help lend importance to what you are doing as well. Your own quiet, personal space where you can shut the door, leave papers everywhere, and work in peace is necessary. If you try to share study space with the dining room or bedroom, food or sleep will take priority over studying. 4. Be sure you have a capable and reliable computer environment at home and at work. Establish and maintain a smoothly functioning and secure working platform on a personal computer, including adequate backup procedures and virus protection. Be sure that you have all the appropriate productivity software loaded and up-to-date on your workstation and establish and maintain a reliable, high-speed Internet connection. Be sure that your workstation is able to receive e-mail and attachments from outside your home or workplace, and that any firewall issues are addressed. 5. Be open-minded about sharing life, work, and educational experiences as part of the learning process. Sharing experiences is made easier by the anonymity of the online environment and as a result, may appeal to a broader range of learning styles and personality types. Students who are typically shyer in face-to-face classroom environments may be more willing to share their opinions online. 6. Think through ideas before responding. Meaningful and quality input into the online classroom is an essential part of the learning process. Time is given in the process to allow for the careful consideration of responses. 7. Be professional. Unfortunately, some people become aggressive or disrespectful within the anonymity of an online class experience. Being polite and respectful to others is not only common sense, it is absolutely required for a productive and supportive online environment. Remember, you are dealing with real people in your virtual classroom. In a positive online environment, you will feel valued by your instructor, valued by your classmates and your own work will have greater value as well. Read on to find out more about the topic of "netiquette" in hybrid and on-line classes. 8. Be willing to speak up if problems arise. Many of the nonverbal communication cues that instructors use to determine whether learners are having problems (confusion, frustration, boredom, etc.) are not obvious in online classes. If you experience difficulty on any level (either with the course content, assignment instructions, or technology), you must communicate this immediately so your instructor will know that you are having difficulty. 9. Apply what you learn. The more opportunities you have to apply what you learn, the more you will retain from your learning. This will vary according to where you are in your life, but try and apply what you learn in your online course to your other courses, your workplace, and everyday life. Also, try to make connections between what you are learning and what you do or will do in your career. Contributing advice or ideas about real world application of on-line learning will help both you and your colleagues. 10. Have a positive attitude. One of the most important qualities of being a successful online learner is having a positive attitude towards your online course. You recognize the benefits and value that an online course provides and you view online learning as a viable option and alternate form of education, and not a replacement for face-to-face courses. In advocating the merits of distance learning, you will reinforce the value of your efforts in taking the course for yourself.
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