Students often wonder if they will be successful in online coursework and programs. The list below presents common characteristics found among the most successful online students. This list is not meant to be exclusionary in nature but to present a list of actions, behaviors and skills sets that will lead to your success.
Students should be comfortable with computers and technology. Knowing how to use the Internet will save time and energy.
Students should be strong readers. There is often more reading in an online class because the instructor and classmates communicate through writing.
Students should be self-motivated. The flexible structure of an online course means students will have to organize their time wisely and take responsibility for getting help, turning in assignments on time and communicating with the instructor.
Take the quiz below to determine whether online courses are a good fit for you!
1. My technology access is best described as:
I have a computer at home with Internet access.
Great! You'll need to be able to download course material, get assignments and communicate with other students and your instructor.
I have regular access to a computer with Internet access and have permission to download files.
Fabulous! You'll need to be able to download course material, get assignments and communicate with other students and your instructor.
I don't have access to a computer or an e-mail address.
Contact your advisor to help with other options. If you do not have a computer or access to a computer and the Internet, online courses may not work for you.
2. My technology skills are:
Very good. I can use e-mail, Web browsers, word-processing software, and can download files and create attachments. I like trying to solve technology problems on my own and don't get frustrated easily.
Good. These are all skills you'll likely need in any course you take.
Average. I can use e-mail, Web browsers and word-processing software. I don't feel comfortable solving technology problems on my own.
It's good you understand these basic skills, and it would be wise to have a backup plan in case you have technology problems.
Very basic. I have used e-mail, Web browsers and word-processing software, but I get frustrated when things don't work the way they should.
Beware! You may need to get more comfortable working online and develop technical problem-solving skills before taking an online course. Contact your advisor for information on courses to help you build your skills.
3. Face-to-face communication is:
Not essential to me. I am comfortable learning without face-to-face interaction.
Good. You'll probably feel comfortable in an online course.
Important to me, and I wonder about my ability to learn without being able to see the instructor or other students.
Consider how important this is to your learning and decide whether or not you are currently willing to challenge yourself to learn in a new way.
Essential, and I learn only if I can interact in person with the instructor and other students.
Stop here! If you can only learn in a face-to-face classroom then online classes are not for you. You may consider taking a hybrid class (a class that combines online learning with at least half of the time spent in a traditional classroom). A hybrid class may be more flexible than traditional classes.
4. When I need help in class:
I feel comfortable asking questions and asking for help.
Great. It is your responsibility to speak up if you have any questions or concerns (that may be the only way the instructor can tell if you’re challenged in any way).
I hesitate to ask questions of the instructor, but I will ask for help if I need it.
Great; it’s good that you realize when it is important to speak up. It’s likely that if the instructor doesn’t hear from you, he/she will assume you’re doing fine.
I often feel intimidated asking questions or asking for help.
It is important that you contact your instructor if you’re having any sort of problem. If you’re not likely to do this you should consider taking a face-to-face class which may be more comfortable.
5. The amount of uninterrupted time I have to devote to an online class is:
15 hours or more per week, anytime during the day or night.
Super! You’ll likely need this time to complete assignments and stay on task.
10-15 hours per week, mainly at night.
Good. This is the minimum amount of time you will probably need to stay on schedule in your class. Find the time of the day that works best for you and make a habit of studying then.
Less than 10 hours per week.
Reconsider. To increase your online success rate, consider taking an online course when you have at least 10-15 hours per week for class.
6. I would describe my personal style as:
Self-motivated, self-disciplined and organized.
Just what you need to succeed! Keep it up.
Motivated, but I need help remembering assignments and due dates.
Keep sharp! You may need to push yourself to complete assignments because no one will be showing up to remind you.
Spontaneous and not too disciplined - I need someone to motivate me and help me stay on top of my coursework.
If you tend to procrastinate, watch out; online classes often require you to regularly participate in discussions and assignments in the classroom. Also, in online classes you have only yourself to rely on and can fall behind quickly!
7. My reading and writing abilities are:
Above average. I enjoy reading and writing and have confidence in my abilities.
Learning and communicating in online courses requires much reading and writing; these skills are essential.
OK. I read well but I'm not comfortable expressing myself in writing.
You may need to work on your writing skills in order to be successful in an online course. If you are unable to accurately express yourself, it will be difficult to succeed.
Below average. I don't like reading and look for classes without a lot of writing assignments.
Online classes center around reading and writing. If this is a struggle you will have more success taking online courses once you’ve improved your reading and writing skills. Check with your advisor about classes to help you with this.
8. When it comes to analyzing class materials and expressing my own opinions about them I feel…
confident; I can analyze class materials and formulate opinions on what I've learned.
Many online classes require you to evaluate material and give your opinion- you may enjoy this opportunity to express yourself and participate in discussions with other classmates.
a bit nervous; I can sometimes analyze class materials and form opinions, but it is a struggle for me.
You’ll need to decide if you feel confident enough to spend the extra time it takes to understand the material well enough to express your own opinion about it.
like I would rather do this with a group guiding me; analyzing material is not something I do well.
You will probably not want an online course; many online classes require you to evaluate material and give your opinion. A college advisor would be very helpful in guiding you toward other modes of learning that fit your comfort level.
9. Class discussions are:
Important to me and useful in helping me learn the information presented in class. I almost always participate in class discussions.
Great! You will probably really enjoy your online experience as discussions are a large part of many courses.
Somewhat important to my learning. I sometimes participate in class discussions.
Discussions are a large part of online courses and often play a significant role in your final grade. If you’re not sure that you’ll be a consistent participant, you may want to reconsider taking an online course.
Not very useful to me. I don't usually participate in class discussions.
Discussions are a large part of online courses and often play a significant role in your final grade. If you don’t think you’ll participate in class discussions, you’ll probably be better off not taking online classes. Ask your advisor about other options.
10. When it comes to learning:
I welcome opportunities to learn new things and master new technologies.
Great. You’ll probably really like online courses!
I get nervous around new technologies, but I like to learn.
If you’re up for a challenge, online learning may still work out for you. Allow yourself ample time to work through any difficulties that may arise and consider a computer course to help you become more familiar with new technologies.
I get very nervous around technology and would rather not try it.
If online learning would be considered a new technology for you it would probably be best for you to look at options other than online courses. Speak to someone in the advising office for assistance.
11. I am considering taking an online course because:
I've taken an online class before and enjoyed the experience.
Super! Although classes may greatly vary, you have a general idea of what to expect.
I'm curious about online classes and have room in my schedule.
Great; you should check out the TRN-100: Student Xpress Courseroom Tutorial for information on the online courseroom.
I need the class for a graduation requirement or job situation, and I can't fit it in to my campus schedule.
If you are looking to squeeze a class into an already full schedule, it may be wise to skip an online course. If you’re just adding a class that fits your schedule better and you have all the time required to be successful, go for it.
Northeast Iowa Community College
Northeast Iowa Community College (NICC) is a public, tax-supported, two-year educational institution serving eight counties in northeast Iowa.
It is the policy of Northeast Iowa Community College not to discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, disability, age employment, sexual orientation, gender identity, creed, religion, and actual or potential parental, family or marital status in its programs, activities, or employment practices as required by the Iowa Code §§ 216.6 and 216.9, Titles VI and VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (42 U.S.C. §§ 2000d and 2000e), the Equal Pay Act of 1973 (29 U.S.C. § 206, et seq.), Title IX (Educational Amendments, 20 U.S.C. §§ 1681 – 1688), Section 504 (Rehabilitation Act of 1973, 29 U.S.C. § 794), and Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act (42 U.S.C. § 12101, et seq.).