Best online learning skills

Students who succeed at distance learning are self-disciplined, self-motivated, prepared, good readers, good organizers, and have good time management skills.

Article is provided by online learning website

As a successful student, you should also get adequate sleep, eat healthily, drink water, exercise, and prioritize your time. Your physical and mental well-being comes first.

Orient yourself to online learning by taking the Online Readiness Quiz to assess your time management and technical skills while thinking about yourself as a learner.

Listed below are a few tips and keys to success in online learning:

Developing self-discipline and self-motivation

Managing your time

Study space

Help is available

Studying in the library by a student

Time management, self-discipline, and motivation

In order to succeed in online learning, you must be independent and self-directed.


In order to succeed, you will need self-discipline and self-motivation to monitor deadlines and complete your course work on time.

Learn what your best learning settings are and proactively shut off or minimize your distractions (such as your mobile phone, music, etc.).

Make sure you read all of your instructor’s emails, announcements, and communications. These often contain important deadlines, to-dos, assignment instructions, etc.

Check your email and Blackboard regularly. Make sure to dedicate time to your course work and minimize obstacles that prevent you from studying and participating.


Do you have enough time to complete the course? You should expect to spend a minimum of 2-3 hours more for each hour of class time, whether you are taking the class in person or online. So, you should expect to spend at least 6-9 hours per week completing readings, assignments, and participating in class discussions in a 3-credit hour course.

Make sure you log in regularly by using a time/task calendar or schedule and setting reminders. Creating a daily schedule, marking important due dates for learning activities and assessments, and blocking off time for reading course content and participating in course requirements is crucial.

Break up readings, assignments, and projects into smaller manageable chunks so you don’t procrastinate.

Make the most of your time. We all have the same amount of time available to us: 24 hours a day and 168 hours a week.

Resources for Online Learners

University of Georgia

Academic Skills Resources – Student Academic Success Center

Resources for Student Success – Division of Student Services

Websites outside of our domain

Self-discipline Development

College Students’ Time Management Tips

College Students’ Time Management Tips


Read course materials, complete class assignments, and participate in class discussions in a quiet study space. You should log on to your course site during this time to read the course content, complete a learning activity, participate in class discussions, or submit an assessment.

Organize your space, yourself, and your course materials!

The development of online learning skills by students

A growing number of adult learners are finding online learning convenient and flexible enough to meet their learning needs and busy lifestyles. In the past decade, online degree programs, courses, and virtual universities targeting adult learners have proliferated. Although students can easily locate an online course or degree program that’s both convenient and accessible, developing new skills for this type of education may prove to be a significant challenge.

Educators have speculated on the development of student skills necessary to succeed in online learning, but few publications cover the topic from the perspective of successful online students. To provide this perspective and to identify useful strategies instructors can use in their online courses, I developed this study.

The methodology

The study began with the development of a set of questions that emerged from a group of online course designers, faculty, and administrators I consulted for ideas. A larger group of faculty and administrators reviewed and edited the question set, and an online survey instrument was developed.

For this study, participants were selected from a list of students who earned their degree by enrolling exclusively in 80% or more of their courses online. Students who achieved a 3.50 cumulative grade point average were invited to participate in the research. Of the 93 students assigned to take part, 59 did so. They were allowed to answer the survey with any response they liked about online learning and what methods they found useful for it.

Seven tips for successful online students

Survey respondents agreed on a number of practical steps that helped them succeed in their online courses:

Developing a time management strategy is the first step.

A survey was conducted to find out which time-management strategies students found most helpful. A challenge online students face is how to devote adequate time to class when they may not have regular times to meet synchronously online or in person. One student commented that establishing a schedule for class time helped them to ensure enough time for class participation.

For example, I read my lessons in the evenings throughout the week, while on Saturdays I usually worked on writing assignments. Setting and sticking to specific study days was a key factor for me. On Saturdays, I responded to other online postings and worked on what I had already submitted.

One student said that setting specific times to read, complete written assignments, and post dialogue to other students helped them. Students also emphasized the need for a schedule that is reasonably flexible and doesn’t demand too much of them at once. One student explained “I was careful not to put too much pressure on myself when completing a homework assignment.” Intelligent scheduling can help promote success in an online course by designating specific times to log onto and participate in the class, and undertaking other course-related activities such as reading and research. The most helpful time-management strategies identified by students are setting study time (78.9%) & allocating time every day (31.6%).

A key difference between in-person and online learning is the independence it gives students, as well as the ability to participate at a time that’s convenient to them. This presents a potential problem, though, in that they could procrastinate more easily. The study revealed a few strategies that students used to keep up with their part-time courses. Fifteen percent of participants commented on how logging into their course portal every day helped them stay on top of things, while 36% said they relied on weekly assignments from their instructors. One participant explained how

Maintaining your schedule requires discipline and you must not let distractions distract you. It was found that I could complete the weekly assignment by Thursday or Friday if I put in about 3–4 hours of study during the week. I would allow myself one hour to wind down from work, eat dinner, and then get to my study room.

Due to the fact that studying was integrated with many other responsibilities, an upfront planning process was crucial to success in the online course.

Take advantage of online discussions.

Student interaction mostly occurs through an online threaded discussion that allows students and instructors to interact in asynchronous time. This is a significant shift for students accustomed to in-class discussions, but it may provide opportunities for richer discourse through written discussion that allows students the chance to spend time crafting their responses. When we asked these students how they made the most of their digital interactions with other students, they revealed some very interesting techniques. One student commented, “I really appreciated interacting with the other students during my classes. Whenever I posted something, I would try as much as possible to post a response, question, or comment to another student’s posting if it was offered. This led me to build a friendship relationship with them.” Another student mentioned, “Respond to several student postings, but try not to simply say ‘good post.’ Also, don’t always interact with the same few classmates. Look for some way you can say something about what others have said.”

Interacting with their classmates through threaded discussions helped 52.6 percent, reading their classmates’ replies helped 15.8 percent, and e-mailing outside of the course platform helped 21 percent.

The instructor has a critical role in ensuring that online discussions are successful. One student noted that “weekly discussions were best when the teacher engaged with them” and made sure to encourage them by asking specific questions or having pro versus con discussions. Students who incorporate a plan for regular communication with their classmates into their overall course schedule will have greater success in their online course.

It’s either you use it or you lose it.

Learning online can pose a challenge for some students in terms of retention. According to students surveyed, applying concepts helped them to retain information. “I used the ‘use-or-lose’ technique.” After reading or studying it, I put it into practice by collaborating with students or working at my workplace.”

Using online threaded discussions is one way to apply these concepts. Concepts can be interpreted and restated in each student’s own words.

Learning should be hands-on and active. One strategy to think about is how the new material can apply to what you already know. For example, if you read about workflow, you may want to apply those concepts at your job or in a past project that used similar techniques. Another strategy is to take handwritten notes from the online text so that you have an additional perspective to compare with. A study found that 47.4% of students said this was the most helpful way for them – it’s basically like notetaking in a real-life course!

Make your questions useful to your learning.

One student commented that “asking questions is integral to learning. By asking questions, fellow students and instructors would go deeper into the subject. Going deeper made the subject matter more understandable.” The online course environment typically provides communication tools (such as threaded discussions, emails, and live chat) that students can use to ask in-depth questions. Students also have the time to craft questions that may go beyond what they would ask in an in-person course, probing the subject with greater precision. Another student explained

As a student who did not have much experience in [online] classes, asking questions helped me to understand the material. By asking questions to other students, I gained a better understanding of the principles and practices professionals face on a daily basis.

According to this survey, successful online students spent time researching and crafting questions, as well as making them clear and understandable (10.5 percent). Though 26.3% of their peers admitted just asking questions, they found thoughtful questions to be a valuable resource in supporting their online learning experience.

Motivate yourself.

Online students can lose their drive or motivation to constantly study and complete their courses or programs. The graduates who participated in this study were asked what helped them keep going when studying online, as one student said, “keeping your eye on the prize” was always helpful. Another student commented, “The main motivator was envisioning myself in cap and gown, walking up and receiving my degree, and having all my dear family and friends there.”

Getting a good grade (21 percent) and setting personal goals (42 percent) also motivate students. As one student stated, “I always aim for an A grade in every class I take. Although it doesn’t matter as much in graduate school as it did as an undergraduate, it still motivates me.”

Students (15.8 percent) benefited from opportunities to work with other online students, who encouraged and provided feedback. One student explained, “I had a friend (in my online courses) that I teamed up with, and we tried hard to make sure we not only finished our assignments, but we submitted only the highest quality work.”

Keeping motivated can be different for each individual. One student promised himself a new truck if he achieved the degree. A new online student would do well to consider developing personal techniques for staying engaged, specifically by developing a self-motivation plan, since online courses require a greater amount of independent work.

Communicate effective instruction techniques.

There are a lot of different types of techniques available for online instructors, so it’s important to pick one that suits your learner. For example, a student commented, “I liked instructors who logged in often and asked lots of questions as it not only helped to increase understanding but also gave people the opportunity for class participation.” Another student said, “One teacher did something that I would never have expected to work with me as well as it did; he posted the initial question for discussion, then asked us individual questions based on our answers. This technique worked well with a variety of learners (42%).” The instructor was able to craft questions that matched each student’s level of understanding and provide online resources which helped them (15.7%).

Make connections with your fellow students.

Participants in this study were able to share some successful strategies and practices that helped them achieve their online student skills. The first student mentioned that making a friend connected with online, who helped me through difficult times, helped her feel better. As well, she found herself less isolated because of classes she attended online with other students and learned more this way than if she was alone. Another student said that “having good classmates in the class made a huge difference for me.”

It amazes me how well we got to know each other, even though we were thousands of miles apart and only virtual classmates.

It was a rewarding experience that I wouldn’t have expected to have in a traditional classroom. I learned as much from other students as I did from the instructors.

Students can extend classroom conversations beyond the traditional boundaries of physical class time by using threaded discussions in their course management system. Instead of identifying each other by physical attributes, students in the online class may get to know one another better by recognizing the writing style and expression of thoughts and ideas. Connecting with online classmates can lead to career networking opportunities later in life for many students.

Skills in time management

It is not a phrase anymore; it is a skill. Online instruction gives students a great deal of flexibility when it comes to their schedule and pace.

Graduates of distance learning programs can easily transfer their skills to the corporate world of deadlines and board meetings.

2. Self-confidence in your technical abilities

For online learners, this job requirement would not even cause them to break a sweat, since technology permeates every aspect of the corporate environment.

With virtual experience, online degree graduates become familiar with and familiar with a wide variety of technologies. Virtual experience teaches one how to use each medium of technology properly. When you have all this insider knowledge, how can you fail to stand out?

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The ability to motivate oneself and to drive oneself

All of these things can prove quite challenging, including finding the right program, keeping up with the accelerated format, scheduling time to study, and meeting course deadlines, all of which are part of the virtual academic experience. Let your potential employer know how dedicated you are to accuracy, efficiency, and success.

Communication skills of the highest caliber

As students interact with different people and technologies in the online classroom, they learn all types of communication techniques, each of which requires a different form of etiquette. Explain how your experiences online have built an excellent foundation for communication skills.

The ability to lead

Online courses utilize group projects to compensate for face-to-face interaction. Group projects offer students the opportunity to assume different roles in the learning process.

By coordinating schedules, setting goals, evaluating work, and guiding a project to completion, team leaders can demonstrate their leadership skills. Be sure to emphasize your ability to lead a team and produce a successful project to potential employers.

6. Ability to work in a team environment

E-learners often encounter opinions, skill levels, and work efficiency levels that differ from their own. Interacting with and learning from a variety of people is part of the distance learning experience.

A major benefit of online education is the ability to adapt and highlight individual strengths.

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Keeping up with industry trends

Since distance education is always connected to the internet, students always have access to a wealth of useful and reputable resources.

Some universities offer online degrees that can help develop the skills listed above:

Online courses at the University of Bath

Online learning at Nottingham Trent University

Online education at the University of Birmingham

Glasgow University

Online at Swinburne

In fact, a good teacher sows the seed, inspires and models knowledge, passion, will to grow and will to become, just as it takes a village to raise a child.

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