Learn the Traits of Successful Online Students


Have you wondered whether online classes are for you? About 10,000 DCCCD students decide each year that online — or distance learning — classes are right for them. For many who work or have other obligations, it makes sense to take courses at their convenience.

You can get an idea whether distance learning is a good fit for you: Take the SmarterMeasure assessment. (The user name is “Dallas TeleCollege Online” and the password is “student.”)

Here’s another way of figuring out whether you would thrive as an online student. Greg Gross, a member of the Richland College Office of Technology Enhanced Learning, has compiled a list of traits and strategies for successful distance learning students. See whether you have these qualities:

Traits often found in successful distance learning students:

  • Strong self-motivator: You start and finish work without having an instructor remind you what is due and when it is due.
  • Can handle a variety of learning methods: You can learn through reading, videos, podcasts and other visuals rather than in-class interaction.
  • Highly organized: You balance course work with work and personal responsibilities. You use scheduling and time management skills.
  • Comfortable with technology: You have basic computer skills and access to a computer with reliable Internet connection. You easily adapt to a variety of software and learning technologies.
  • Strong communication skills: You’re comfortable with methods that are not simultaneous or face-to-face. You show respect for your classmates and instructor by using standard American English for course email and discussion boards.
  • Academically prepared: You have clear educational goals. You know why you are taking this class and what classes will follow. You buy materials ahead of time and become familiar with the learning environment quickly.

Strategies to build or strengthen skills for successful distance learning students:

  • Participate regularly: Build a strong community with your instructor and other students in the class through regular email and discussion board communications. Reach for help often. Do not get behind in course assignments!
  • Prepare your space: Create a learning environment full of resources and limited distraction. Make sure all materials needed are present: books, computer and reliable Internet connection. The area should be well lit and free from distractions. Your family should be respectful of a do-not-disturb policy during dedicated study time.
  • Set regular goals: Break down your ultimate goal into small, manageable steps. That’s the best way to make regular progress while feeling like you’re actually achieving something. Think ahead for problems that may occur and have a backup plan; where will you submit your assignments if your Internet connection goes down at home? Stay on track!
  • Use available resources: Then find more. Your course textbook and electronic materials are designed to give you the basic knowledge to complete the course. Follow instructor directions for maximizing effectiveness of all course materials. Use online search engines to provide deeper understanding and practical application of course topics. Your school library has a host of research tools and library assistants available to online students.
  • Boast! Then treat yourself: Tell your family, friends, even your boss about your studies. Use their encouragement for greater motivation. Share your successes with them. Plan personal rewards for achieving milestones on your academic journey. All work and no play can make it difficult to succeed in distance learning courses.

Learn more about online classes, contact a distance learning advisor, see the current schedule or look at the complete list of degrees, certificates and awards you can earn entirely online.

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