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Characteristics of Successful e-Learners

Photo of an online student studying at home.

Studying online is not as easy as it may seem. Traditional students have the opportunity to develop relationships with faculty and fellow classmates through real-life interactions by attending class on a regular basis. Set semester schedules allow on-ground students to develop routines that work within MacMurray College's academic structure. MacMurray's online students learn through an "asynchronous" environment where faculty and students do not have a set time to meet. Coursework — participating in discussion boards, completing in-class activities, writing and submitting homework assignments, and completing quizzes — and interactions occur at the convenience of individual schedules.

The online learning environment is not for everyone. Some students need to have set meeting times and face-to-face interactions with faculty and fellow classmates to get the most of their academic experience. Successful students in the online environment should possess the following important traits.

Goal-oriented

To succeed in the online environment, students must remain cognizant of their short- and long-term personal, professional, and scholastic goals. They must enjoy the challenge of learning because some classes will be more difficult and less interesting than others. Students should set weekly short-term goals of completing all assignments and being an active participant on the discussion board. These weekly goals play a major role in helping reach the long-term goal of earning a degree.

Fundamental Time Management Skills

MacMurray College's online courses are eight weeks long, and the time can pass very quickly. It can be easy to fall behind when life and other classes get in the way. Students who thrive in the online environment excel at time management. The e-learning classroom differs from on campus because class does not occur at a specific time, date, or place. Since the learning process is independent and unique for every learner, students are encouraged to create a process which adapts to their specific lives and needs.

MacMurray College online students are required to participate in the discussion forum and other classroom activates throughout the academic week, which runs from Monday through Saturday. Online faculty expect students to be organized, remain active in the classroom, and submit all classwork and assignments prior to the deadline. Creating a schedule can help online students develop a routine which includes checking messages and discussion board content and complete assignments and quizzes with the help of constant classroom engagement.

With the exception of MATH 131 (College Algebra and Trigonometry), all courses in MacMurray College's Business Administration, Criminal Justice, and RN to BSN programs are three credit hours. In the online classroom, students are expected to work 3-4 hours a week per credit hour. As a result, students in the online program need to plan to devote 9-12 hours per week per course.

Understanding of Basic Computer Skills

Students who attend MacMurray College through its online program complete all schoolwork through Moodle. Weekly course activities include the discussion forum and a written assignment. Faculty can also assign projects and other work which require different uses of technology. Students attending MacMurray online should be comfortable using Microsoft Office products, complete the Moodle student orientation course, and understand how to save and upload attachments.

Good Communication Skills (Writing and Reading) and Netiquette

Discussion forums are a quintessential element of the e-learning environment. Each week, faculty will post one or two questions which require critical analysis of the readings, supplemental materials and personal experiences. As a part of this discussion, students are required to provide constructive feedback and responses to posts from their peers and faculty, creating an engaging "conversation" which equals the in-class discussion found in the traditional classroom.

Writing quality discussion posts involves brainstorming, critical analysis, and high-level thinking. Successful students take time to digest comments written by their faculty and peers to provide intellectual, insightful responses. The learning process is improved when students are open-minded about sharing life, work and educational experience as part of their analyses. Being tactful in the discussion forum is imperative as faculty and fellow classmates will test the validity and ideas found in forum posts. During these and all discussions in the forum, students must show proper online etiquette and respect toward everyone in the classroom.