Online Learning Success Essay

Online Learning Success Essay

While the essay below deals a bit more with the characteristics of a successful online learner, and yes, I understand you have now seen three different teaching tools regarding success, the essay is also an example of the format, tone, appropriate citation use, and level of writing that will be expected of you in this course. Lev Vygotsky, a proponent of Constructivism, believed that our learning only expands if we feel comfortable leaving our comfort zone. He called this our Zone of Proximal Development (ZPD), and he called the support structure used to expand our ZPD – scaffolding (Ertmer & Newby, 1993).

Asynchronous Project Management Course: Characteristics of Successful Online Learners

I doubt that anyone signs up for a class with the expectation to fail and drop out. However, according to the US Department of Education (n.d.) evidence shows that over 50% of students drop out of college before graduating. The online, for-profit dropout rate is even higher. In 2008, the non-profit advocacy group, Education Trust, found “only 22 percent of the first-time, full-time bachelor’s degree students at for-profit colleges over all graduate within six years” (Lewin, 2010). This information is not meant to discourage you from pursuing online learning, but rather, it is meant to show that success in online learning is not common. In fact, there are many outside influences that make dropping out of online programs easy: competing priorities like work and families, crushing debt, and seemingly no accountability. To be successful, you must want to be successful. What follows are characteristics that you, as an online learners, must develop in order to be successful.


                First, you need to learn to manage time and your course load. There is a misconception that online learning will be easier than face-to-face learning. While online learning may be more convenient, it is not easier. In fact, it may be harder since there is no set time the course meets. With a face-to-face course, you are required to attend a course at a college which means a structured schedule. The first characteristic you need to develop is time management.  I-Seek Solutions (2014) suggests that online students read the course syllabus completely, and then plan out the complete semester including a checklist that can be ticked off as assignments are completed. Fairmont State University (n.d.) takes this a step further and suggests that students set aside a specific amount of time each day, at the same time each dedicated to completing coursework. Another suggestion in regards to managing time and course load is to make sure you create a good study environment that is free of distractions and facilitates learning (i-Seek Solutions, 2014).

Planning for success will only get you started. Success will only happen if you can execute your plan. Simonson, Smaldino, Albright, and Zvacek (2012) found, “one pervasive characteristic of the distance learner is an increased commitment to learning” (p. 218). Do you have the motivation to push yourself to your desired success? You need to answer the following questions before you start an online class or program. Why am I doing this? What do I expect to gain? Let the answers to these questions be your motivation. Print out the answers and tape them to your screen, do something so that you are constantly reminded as to why you are taking online learning. While an instructor or fellow student might reach out to you, only you are responsible for your own learning. Dabbagh (2007) found “students in online learning environments must possess ‘self’ behaviors such as self-discipline, self-monitoring, self-initiative, and self-management, which are characteristics of self-regulated or self-directed learning.” So what happens when you lose motivation, do you drop out? No, you communicate.

Michael Moore’s Theory of Transactional Distance states that the distance between students and instructors is diminished as communication increases (Kang & Gyorke, 2008). If you are going to be successful, you will need to have the appropriate level of netiquette (Fairmont State University, n.d.), which is the ability to communicate effectively via the internet. Dabbagh (2007) suggests that online learners now possess greater experience with collaborative learning. You should be prepared to share your work, comment on the work of others, and actively participate. I would personally suggest that you network with your fellow students and create a “friends” network with which you can communicate with when you feel overwhelmed and need help.

While there are other characteristics that can help you succeed as an online learner, they all fall under one of the three discussed here: planning, execution/motivation, and communication. The last piece of advice that I can give you for developing a successful online learning strategy is this: identify problems early and seek help to solve them. If you don’t understand an assignment, ask for clarification. If you begin to fall behind, take to your instructor (me). I cannot help you if I do not know what you are dealing with. If you feel as though the course is not delivering the learning you need, communicate this before you drop out. I have found in my own experience, as an online learner, that I only succeed in executing my learning plan when I have the knowledge needed to do so, and this knowledge keeps me motivated. Remember, I will always be happy to provide you with more information, all you need to do is ask. Online Learning Success Essay.


Dabbagh, N. (2007). The online learner: Characteristics and pedagogical implications. Contemporary Issues in Technology and Teacher Education [Online serial], 7(3). Retrieved from (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site.

iSeek Education. (2014). What makes a successful online learner? Retrieved from (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site.

Fairmont State University. (n.d.) Characteristics of a successful online student. Retrieved from

arning/successful_student.asp (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site. Online Learning Success Essay.

Kang, H., Gyorke, A.S. (2008). Rethinking distance learning activities: a comparison of transactional distance theory and activity theory. Open Learning. Vol. 23, No. 3, 203-214. Retrieved from

pdfviewer?sid=ca95cf32-ac49-471d-a564-76f553d8c61c%40sessionmgr115&vid=4&hid=121 (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site.

Lewin, T. (2010, November 23). Report finds low graduation rates at for-profit colleges. The New York Times.Retrieved from (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site.

Simonson, M., Smaldino, S., Albright, M., & Zvacek, S. (2012). Teaching and learning at a distance: Foundations of distance education (5th ed.) Boston, MA: Pearson. Online Learning Success Essay.

US Department of Education. (n.d.). Graduation rates. Retrieved from (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site.


Ertmer, P. A., & Newby, T. J. (1993). Behaviorism, Cognitivism, Constructivism: Comparing Critical Features from an Instructional Design Perspective. Performance Improvement Quarterly, 6(4), 50-71. Online Learning Success Essay

Traits of a Successful Online Learner

What are your expectations for online learning and how do you know if it is right for you? Answering these questions involves doing your research about the options available and making some decisions about your plans for the future. In addition to assessing your skills and readiness you need to consider the financial obligation, draft an education and career plan, and evaluate your options to find a high quality program. Online Learning Success Essay.

As a student, online or traditional, it will be your responsibility to actively pursue your educational goals. You may have heard the expression: “You get out of it what you put into it.” This is true of higher education! The experience you have and the learning you achieve are the results of not only the curriculum and faculty, but also of the efforts you make along the way. What must the online student bring to the table to foster a successful experience?

  1. Interest in learning: This may sound obvious, but what are your learning habits? Learning is a continuous process and online programs involve learning about technology in addition to the subjects covered in the courses themselves. Are you willing to continue learning new technologies, ways to communicate, problem-solving skills, and troubleshooting techniques?
  2. Inquisitive nature: Are you willing to speak up and ask questions? In an online course it is important to reach out to your instructor and classmates when you have questions and need clarification, as soon as the need arises. Look for opportunities, both in and outside of class, to find out more about the topics you are studying.
  3. Ability to adapt well to change: Higher education is going through a lot of changes and online programs are no exception. You may find yourself having to deal with and adapt to growing pains within your school and program, as well as changes in technology requirements. The process can be frustrating at times and a positive approach will take you a long way.
  4. Focus on personal and professional goals: Completing an online program can be a long process. Why did you decide to become a student? Whatever your reasons may be, remember why you are there and keep your education and career plan handy. Refer to it often to maintain your motivation throughout your program.
  5. Persistence: You will find that some courses are more difficult than others. Some courses will be more interesting to you than others. It’s not always convenient to be a student and juggle the rest of life’s demands. Be persistent and keep in mind that there will be challenges along the way. Work through the tough times and engage your support network when you need to do so.
  6. Self-direction and Self-efficiency: An independent approach to learning, self-direction in getting started in each course, and staying on schedule with assignments will be helpful as you begin your online experience. Start developing good habits with time management and study techniques. Take the initiative to search for answers through all of the services available from your program. These resources are there to support your efforts!
  7. An open mind: You will encounter a world of ideas and perspectives that are new to you. Whether you are enrolled online or in a face-to-face course, embrace the diversity represented by your classmates and instructors. Take a professional approach to class discussions that include thoughts that may be different from your own. Online Learning Success Essay.
  8. Confidence and humility: While this may sound like a contradiction, both of these traits, working in balance with each other, will positively impact your online learning experience. After you have done your research and chosen your program, be confident in your decision. Put your best food forward, but don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it. Often, your instructor won’t know you are frustrated or confused unless you reach out.
  9. An online presence: Develop a comfort level sharing information about who you are with your instructors and classmates online. You may already have some experience creating an online profile, and may be asked to share similar information about yourself in your courses. This provides a way for distance students to get to know each other, and for your instructor to get to know you as well. Consider sharing some of your story along the way. Online Learning Success Essay.
  10. Respect for the educational process: The process of completing a degree or certificate program in higher education is filled with benefits and challenges. You can do a lot to prepare in advance – know what to expect and be ready to get involved. Be an active participant in your own learning!

Take the time to assess your readiness and reflect on the traits listed above. While you may be a natural at some, others will require your attention and efforts to improve. Allow yourself time to acclimate to the online learning environment and expect to make a few mistakes in the process. These lessons learned will move your forward in your higher education journey.

More Characteristics of a Successful Online Learner

Students can direct their own learning environment and methods to fulfill course requirements and achieve individual academic success. Good online students can develop techniques to stay involved and interested in their online course. This is important because if a student does not drop his or her NCVPS course by the tenth day of class, the student will receive a grade for the course that will go on his or her transcript. Online Learning Success Essay.

Independent Learner
The online environment enables students to learn at their own pace, relieving the stress of feeling rushed or pressured and providing enjoyment in the learning process. Online courses are not an easy way out, though. You will have the same amount of work as you do in a traditional course, but you have the option to log in and work 24/7.

Computer Literate
Although it is not necessary to have advanced computer skills, students should possess a working knowledge of electronic e-mail, the Internet, as well as basic keyboarding skills. Successful online learners do have easy access to computers and the Internet. Even if you have a computer at school, you will be more successful if you have additional access elsewhere.

Good Time Management
Students must be able to organize and plan their own best “time to learn.” There is no one best time for everyone, but the key to learning is to make the time to learn.

Effective Communicator
Students must use electronic e-mail and discussion forums to communicate with their peers as well as the instructors. The ability to write clearly to communicate ideas and assignments is essential. This method provides the learner with rapid feedback as well as a means to inform instructors of any concerns or problems that they may be experiencing. In addition, a good online student will ask for help when there is a problem. For instance, if your password does not work, ask for help immediately. Do not wait for two or three days. It might take a day to fix the problem, and you cannot miss a week of work in your online course. Online Learning Success Essay.

Personal Commitment
Because there are no bells that begin and end classes, students must have a strong desire to learn and achieve knowledge and skills via online courses. Making a commitment to learn in this manner is a very personal decision and requires a strong commitment to perform in order to achieve academic success. Remember that an NCVPS course is much like a traditional course at school. You will receive a grade at the end of the course that will go on your transcript. Online Learning Success Essay.

Academic Readiness
The student should have the basic reading, writing, math and computer literacy skills to succeed in the class.

Technologically Prepared
A successful online learner knows how to open, create and/or save a document; use various technology tools (e.g., dictionary, thesaurus, grammar checker, calculator); and identify various file formats (e.g., doc, xls, pdf, jpg). Online Learning Success Essay.

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