Tuesday, March 3, 2015

The Readiness Characteristics of Successful Online Students

Online education is now a popular educational medium and online students have certain characteristics that set them apart from traditional students. Academic achievement and student satisfaction during online programs can be a major predictor of student retention and success. A study in the Turkish Online Journal of Education Technology helps highlight five factors of readiness that predict online student success (Kirmizi, 2015).

  1. Computer/Internet Self-Efficacy: The ability to be confident in the use of computers and the internet. Students that use the Internet on a regular basis will feel more confident in online courses when compared to non-computer users.
  2. Self-Directed Learning: Those students that enjoy learning, reading, and managing their own learning process are more likely to be successful in online education programs.
  3. Learner Control: Those students that desire more control over their educational experience, time, and curriculum will enjoy online education more.
  4. Motivation & Learning: Students that are successful in online education have higher levels of motivation and feel an intrinsic appreciation of education.
  5. Online Communication Self-Efficacy: Students that are strong with virtual forms of communication, forums, messaging, posting, replying, etc… will have an easier time with online education.

Online education isn’t for everyone and certain types of people are more likely to excel than others. Motivation is a key component of the strong online student. Successful online students will seek out opportunities to have more input in the educational process and control how their work gets done. Online education attracts those who seek more educational freedom.

Before students enter into an online program a level of readiness is needed to ensure they will maintain persistence throughout the entire program and not drop out. Students with poor motivation and low technology skills are at risk of giving up faster than other students. The same low levels of ability and motivation may impact their lives in other ways beyond higher education.

The report doesn’t move into this aspect but one must wonder if assessing or providing a short survey of student’s technological familiarity and personal motivation will be helpful in gauging whether or not students will be successful in an online program. Technology skills may require a pre-requisite course but motivation is part of a life-long learning process. Successful students will naturally have certain characteristics that set them apart from traditional students.

Kirmizi, O. (2015). The influence of learner readiness on student satisfaction and academic achievement in an online program at higher education. Turkish Online Journal of Education Technology, 14 (1).

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