A survey of successful adult online learners provides and excellent resource for this advice. In a survey (see reference below) of a group of adult students who graduated from online graduate degree programs with a cumulative GPA of 3.5 or better, respondents cited the following skills and techniques that helped them achieve success:
- Develop a time-management strategy. Online learners have more freedom when it comes to when they will do work for their courses. This is clearly a benefit for busy adults, but it can also be a challenge for those who lack self-discipline. The students in the survey recommended creating a schedule up front that dedicates specific times to course-related activities—such as logging on and participating in class as well as doing research and reading—and sticking to this schedule.
- Make the most of online discussions. Since threaded discussions are the main form of communication in a typical online course, students need to recognize the benefits of this form of communication. For example, as one student stated, interacting with other students can be a fun part of the course. Another suggested developing relationships with classmates by responding to several student postings with meaningful messages, not simply “good post.”
- Use it or lose it. Students in this survey stated that in order to retain knowledge, it was important to apply it in their work or in threaded discussions.
- Make asking questions useful to learning. Students in this survey made an effort to research and craft questions to engage each other and the instructor.
- Stay motivated. A common sentiment among students in this survey was the need to stay motivated, through the desire either to graduate or to achieve a good grade. One student stated that it helped to team up with a classmate to motivate each other to finish assignments on time.
- Make connections with fellow students. Students in the survey stressed the value of interacting with each other and how they got to know each other through threaded discussions.
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