Information Age Education Blog
To Be a Successful (Online) Learner
Is there a difference between a successful online learner and a successful off-line learner? The following article addresses this question.
Wolpert-Gawron, H. (2/1/2012). Seven digital learning tips for students. Retrieved 2/1/2012 from http://www.edutopia.org/blog/digital-learning-seven-tips-heather-wolpert-gawron.
Quoting from the article:
Here are seven attributes that [you] should have or need to develop for successful online learning:
1. You have to have a sense of self. Successful learners online have an awareness of metacognition—self-motivation, self-starting, and ownership of one’s actions. In other words, they reflect on how they learn as well as what they learn.
2. You need to be able to manage your time wisely. They must be able to lay out their tasks with a critical eye, plan them accordingly, and follow them through to fruition—many times without someone looking over their shoulder.
3. You have GOT to know how to collaborate. This is a biggie. More than an understanding of technology, more than a perfection of writing skills, the ability to collaborate is one that must be used comfortably online.
4. You need to be able to set goals for yourself. Being able to see the target and backwards plan towards that target is vital.
5. You need to communicate well in writing. The entire online community is based on the language of words and how to communicate them effectively. One cannot use texting language and expect to be heard. A student needs to use their best level of writing.
6. You must follow the community norms. Just like a classroom has a set of rules, so does an online class. A student must function within the norms and rules of netiquette set up by the instructor (or, better yet, agreed upon by the class itself).
7. You must be your own advocate. As slam poet Taylor Mali once wrote when asked if they would be tested on the material, “If not you, then who?” So does it go with being one’s own advocate. If you won’t ask the questions, take control, and make sure your voice is heard in a positive way…then who will?
Here are three ideas that occurred to me as I thought about the list:
- A number—perhaps all—of the items in the list are relevant to both online and off-line education.
- The list does not emphasize Marshall McLuhan's the idea that "the medium is the message." In online education, Information and Communication Technology is the medium.
I think that item 5 about communicating well in writing needs to be expanded. Teaching and learning require a wide range of communication skills. The issue of writing is much more than just texting versus writing with full words, sentences, and paragraphs. We want students to learn to communicate effectively in our multimedia, connected world. Online education makes use of the media. So think in terms of the media being an important part of the message in online education.
If you are a teacher at the precollege or higher education level, you might want to spend some class time discussing this list (and extensions of the list) with your students. For example, you might want them to do a self-assessment, identifying their own strengths and weaknesses, and what they are doing to build upon their strengths and to overcome their weaknesses.
Even if you are not involved directly in online education, what are you doing to help prepare your students to be successful learners in that environment? In my opinion, all students need to be learning to learn in an online environment.
What You Can Do
Gain some personal experience in online learning, and observe students working in online learning environments. If you have not used online learning with your students, begin to do some small experiments. For example, if there is even one desktop, laptop, or tablet computer in your classroom, you can use it as a tutoring aid for one student at a time. You can also create assignments that require your students to make use of computers—in school labs, at home, and so on—to do online learning.
Suggested Readings from IAE and Other Publications
You can use Google to search all of the IAE publications. Click here to begin. Then click in the IAE Search box that is provided, insert your search terms, and click on the Search button.
Click here to search the entire collection of IAE Blog entries.
Here are some examples of publications that might interest you.
A game changer in higher education. See http://i-a-e.org/iae-blog/a-game-changer-in-higher-education.html.
A new kind of learner. See http://i-a-e.org/iae-blog/a-new-kind-of-learner.html.
Effective study skills. See http://i-a-e.org/iae-blog/effective-study-skills.html.
Open courseware is changing the world of education. DAVE get URL and make it hot
Personalizing educational content and delivery. See http://i-a-e.org/iae-blog/personalizing-education-content-and-delivery.html.
Supersized online courses. See http://i-a-e.org/iae-blog/supersized-online-courses.html.
Written by davem, February 06, 2012.
It is the basic nature of your human brain that it learns from whatever comes in through your senses. Your brain also learns through thinking—consciously and subconsciously—about what it has previously learned.
I don't think that on-line versus off-line as sources of information and aids to learning is nearly as important as learning to learn, learning your strengths and weaknesses as a learner, and learning to take responsibility for your own learning.
There is a lot of accumulated research on effective study skills (learning skills). Our educational system can be improved by helping students learn to make effective use of some of this research.