There are many factors that will determine your success in an online course. Students considering taking an online course should have a basic level of familiarity with computers and feel should feel comfortable accessing websites and sending emails.
The self-assessment for online learning below is from The Virtual Student: A Profile and Guide to Working with Online Learners, by Palloff and Pratt (2003). It should provide potential students with feedback and points to begin self-reflection about their personal motivation, self-discipline, and learning styles and if they are oriented towards online learning.
This self-assessment is for a students contemplating online learning compiled from assessments found on various websites. Please note that a low score on the assessment it is not necessarily an indicator that you will not do well in an online course. This assessment should be used as a guide only.
1. My need to take this course now is:
a. High-I need it immediately for a specific goal.
b. Moderate-I could take it on campus later or substitute another course.
c. Low-it could be postponed.
2. Feeling that I am part of a class is:
a. Not particularly necessary to me.
b. Somewhat important to me.
c. Very important to me.
3. I would classify myself as someone who:
a. Often get things done ahead of time.
b. Needs reminding to get things done on time.
c. Puts things off until the last minute or doesn’t complete them.
4. Classroom discussion is:
a. Rarely helpful to me.
b. Sometimes helpful to me.
c. Almost always helpful to me.
5. When an instructor hands out directions for an assignment, I prefer:
a. Figuring out the instructions myself
b. Trying to follow the directions on my own, then asking for help as needed.
c. Having the instructions explained to me.
6. I need faculty comments on my assignments:
a. Within a few weeks, so I can review what I did.
b. Within a few days, or I forget what I did.
c. Right away, or I get very frustrated.
7. Considering my professional and personal schedule, the amount of time I have to work on a distance learning course is:
a. More than enough for an on-campus course.
b. The same as for a class on campus.
c. Less than for a class on campus.
8. Coming to campus on a regular schedule is:
a. Extremely difficult for me – I have commitments (work, family, or personal) during times when classes are offered.
b. A little difficult, but I can rearrange my priorities to allow for regular attendance on campus.
c. Easy for me.
9. As a reader, I would classify myself as:
a. Good – I usually understand the text without help.
b. Average – I sometimes need help to understand the text.
c. Slower than average.
10. When I need help understanding the subject:
a. I am comfortable approaching an instructor to ask for clarification.
b. I am uncomfortable approaching an instructor, but do it anyway.
c. I never approach an instructor to admit I don’t understand something.
11. My ability to work with technology is as follows:
a. I have excellent computer skills.
b. I have some computer and Internet skills.
c. I am not familiar with computers and do not feel comfortable surfing the Net.
1. Distance learning students sometimes neglect their courses because of personal or professional circumstances. Having a compelling reason for taking the course helps motivate the student to stick with the course.
2. Some students prefer the independence of distance learning; others find the independence uncomfortable and miss being part of the classroom experience.
3. Distance learning courses give students greater freedom of scheduling, but they can require more self-discipline than on-campus classes.
4. Some people learn best by interacting with other students and instructors. Others learn better by listening, reading, and reviewing on their own. Some distance learning courses provide less opportunity for group interaction than most on-campus courses.
5. Distance learning requires you to work from written directions.
6. It may take as little as a day or as much as a week to get comments back from your instructor in distance learning classes.
7. Distance learning requires at least as much time as on-campus courses or more. Students surveyed say that distance learning courses are as hard as or harder than on-campus courses.
8. Most people who are successful with distance learning find it difficult to come to campus on a regular basis because of their work/family/personal schedules.
9. Print materials are the primary source of directions and information in distance learning courses.
10. Students who do well in distance learning courses are usually comfortable contacting the instructor as soon as they need help with the course.
11. Students who do well in distance learning courses usually have some familiarity with the use of a computer and know how to access e-mail and the Internet.
1. I have access to a computer or the equipment required for an online class.
2. I am not intimidated by using technology for learning.
3. I feel comfortable using the computer for basic word processing, e-mail, and to access the Internet.
4. I am a good time manager, can meet deadlines, and can keep track of assignments.
5. I am an independent learner.
6. I am self-disciplined.
7. I can express my ideas, comments, questions, and emotions in writing.
8. I am generally flexible and can adjust to changing schedules.
9. I have some time available to go to campus, if required, for exams and meetings.
10. I am a self-starter.
11. I easily understand what I read.
12. I am goal-directed and often achieve my goals.
13. I am realistic and confident about my academic ability.
14. I am persistent and obstacles don’t stop me.
15. I believe in taking responsibility for my own learning.
16. I am open to trying something new.
17. I am open to working in an unstructured setting.
18. I enjoy working in teams, doing collaborative projects, etc.
The more “yes” answers a student has to these questions, the higher likelihood of success in an online course.
Where to go from here?