Note: While research regarding best practices for online learning is difficult to obtain due to the relatively infancy of the industry, four key areas of focus critical to program success have been identified. This week I will be posting four keys to student success in online courses. These "best practices" were gleaned through research that I conducted through a wide variety of sources. This is part 4 of 4
Read Part #1 Here
Read Part #2 Here
Read Part #3 Here
4. Student Preparation and Attitude
While teacher quality and mentor support are critical components to helping students succeed in online courses, the attitude and preparation of the student is also a contributing factor. Students will not be naturally successful in an online program. Rice (2006) indicates that “younger students need to be provided guidance in developing characteristics of successful distance students.”
When making the transition from face-to-face to online instruction, most students think that the level of work will decrease and that their level of flexibility and free time will increase. Adjusting takes time and requires careful support. Online students to have a greater sense of autonomy and flexibility, but the work load remains the same. Deadlines still exist.
Assistance is need from mentors and parents to help students create a schedule and work-flow that will allow them to stay on task and on schedule. Being self-motivated and managing time well are critical components to the success of a student. The younger the student, the more guidance, oversight, and accountability is required.
While student attitude and skills are an important component, research continues to point to teacher quality as the most important factor to student success. As mentioned before, a quality teacher can help students without the proper attitude and worth ethics succeed in an online program. As Rice (2006) concludes, the effectiveness of distance education appears to have more to do with who is teaching, who is learning, and how that learning is accomplished and less to do with the medium.
Rice, Kerry Lynn. "A Comprehensive Look at Distance Education in the K-12 context." Journal of Research on Technology in Education 38.4 (2006): 425-448. Web. 29 Apr 2011. .