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Module 2: Attributes of Successful Distance Learners

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  • Attributes of Successful Distance Learners  


    To ensure that you’re journey in a distance setting are successful, it is always important to consider the elements that can enhance achievement. The following elements are keys of considerations. Simonson, Smaldino, Albright & Zvack (2009) identify accurate educational setting, prior knowledge, and learning styles as indicators of successful distance learners. Successful distance learners must self motivators, have a grasp on time management skills, and be able to communicate within the learning environment. Your Quality learning depends not only on the preparation of the instructor, but also by the preparation of you becoming the distance learner. These attributes can be a key to becoming a successful distance learner in an online classroom setting.

  •    Distance learning sometimes can be very challenging. A key attribute is motivation to maintain the role as a successful distance learner. Simonson et al (2009) stated that, “Motivation is important. Intrinsically motivated learners and those with high expectations tend to have higher success rates” (P.75).  In order for you to become self motivators, learners should be goal-oriented. Staying motivated in distance learning class was a challenge for me studying independently. I have learned to develop a motivation strategy to participate and ask thoughtful questions as a technique to engage both my peers and instructors. This has given me the ability to use the resources from the course and open the gate to an in-depth conversation. The connection gives me the urge to become a learner among other peers within my course. Motivation to learn is a must to a learner success. The motivation to learn is personal and comes from within the learner, but can be achieved through external factors.
  •        Another key factor attributing to the successful distance learners is time management. A vast majority of students have to juggle studying with their work commitments and family responsibilities. Time management is all about how you organize yourself in order to make the best use of your time and become more effective. According to Edison(2007), there is no single management “solution” which is best for everyone and every learning situation. The following are some key features of time management which can account for better time management skills for online learners:

    ·         Planning is essential if you have tight timescales to meet. Just as traditional classroom you are expected to attend the classes for which you have registered, you’re expected to put in a predetermined number of study hours per week. The amount of study time should be determined by evaluating your responsibilities and the date of anticipated goal achievement. In order to keep on target with these goals, you should expect consistent communication with the instructor.  You can expect prompt and efficient service from the instructor and the learner should understand this is expected of in return. By covering theses expectations during orientation, you are equipped and more likely to remain with the program.

    ·         Where there are large/difficult tasks, break them down into series of more manageable sub-tasks. As you become distance learners, the need to think about how you will balance the workload of family, employment, and community responsibilities with studying. You and I will develop a study plan that will address these responsibilities in order to discover when, where, and how they will be studying at a distance. Within this study plan, you will need to coordinate a communication schedule with the trainer. Please communicate using office telephones, e-mail messages, or instant messaging on an as -needed basis.

    ·         Aspire to do your work at the part of the day when you are at the climax of your energy (Edison, P. 22).

  •             In order to fit the third piece of the puzzle on becoming a successful distance learner, online learners must have the ability to communicate their needs. Online learning requires a great deal of communication. Communication starts from the Instructional Designer to the instructor then to the learner. It is a flow process to create a learning environment. Simonson states communication as, “when two or more persons wants to share an idea” (Simonson et al, 2009, p.90). Effective communication is the key asset. Feedback needs to flow from the sender and the receiver and vice versa in order for the communication process to be successful. Contributing successfully to the course means learners must be critical thinkers to assimilate meaningful learning. Online learning requires students to communicate by using different tools for resources, emails, wiki, blogs, and discussion forum is a ways to communicate effectively within a course.
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  • As students continue to be self-motivators, have a grasp on time management skills and are able to communicate in a learning environment, success will be accomplished. The key attributes are a combination effort of the learner to accomplish his or her goals of becoming a successful learner. They must be self-motivated in order to complete the course in a timely manner and also be able to communicate effectively to become critical thinkers. Obtaining an online degree requires much from the learners and everyone that is involved in the course. Success is not a term to take lightly but requires much time and effort to make the outcome a learning experience.


    Edison, T. (2007, February 8). There is time for everything. Retrieved July 23, 2011, from Time      Management: http://www.jwelford.demon.co.uk/brainwaremap/timeman.html

    Simonson, M., Smaldino, S., Albright, M., & Zvacek, S. (2009). Teaching and learning at adistance: Foundations of distance education (4th ed.) Boston, MA: Pearson    

©2006 Cassandra Middleton (mrsitt29907)