A Christian College of the Liberal Arts & Sciences

Is Online Learning For Me?

Welcome to the world of online learning and thank you for considering online courses at Houghton College. Before you enroll in any online course, you should take some time to think about yourself as a learner and see whether your learning characteristics will help you be a successful online learner. Work through the below self-assessment to determine your online learning readiness. The below form is not interactive. Please make a record of your scores for your own reference.

Directions: Please indicate your level of agreement with the following statements. Score each statement as follows: Strongly Agree (2), Agree (1), Disagree (0). Add up your scores and compare your total with the Scoring and Feedback section below.

Self-directedness

1. I am good at setting goals and deadlines for myself.
2. I have a really good reason for taking an online course.
3. I finish the projects I start.
4. I do not quit just because things get difficult.
5. I can keep myself on track and on time.

Learning preferences

1. I learn pretty easily.
2. I can learn from things I hear, like lectures or audio recordings, or podcasts.
3. I have to read something to learn it best.
4. I have developed a good way to solve problems I run into.
5. I learn best by figuring things out for myself.
6. I like to learn in a group, but I can learn on my own, too.
7. I am willing to email or have discussions with people I might never see.

Study habits

1. I usually work in a place where I can read and work on assignments without distractions
2. I can ignore distractions around me when I study.
3. I am willing to spend 10-20 hours each week on this course.
4. I keep a record of what my assignments are and when they are due.
5. I plan my work in advance so that I can turn in my assignments on time.
6. People around me will help me study and not try to distract me.
7. I am willing to use email and other online tools to ask my classmates and instructors questions.

Technology skills

1. I am pretty good at using the computer.
2. I am comfortable surfing the Internet.
3. I am comfortable doing searches, setting bookmarks, and downloading files.
4. I am comfortable installing software and changing configuration settings on my computer.
5. I know someone who can help me if I have computer problems.

Computer equipment capabilities

1. My computer runs reliably on Windows XP, Windows Vista, Windows 7, or Mac 0S 10.4 or higher.
2. I have a printer.
3. I am connected to the Internet with a fairly fast, reliable Internet connection such as DSL or cable.
4. I have virus protection software running on my computer.
5. I have headphones or speakers and a microphone to use if a class has a videoconference.
6. My browser will play several common multimedia (video and audio) formats.

SCORING AND FEEDBACK

Score: 0 – 10

From your answers, it looks like your time management skills and study habits (such as keeping yourself on track, meeting deadlines and working independently) need to be improved before you can be successful in online learner. If you feel that you have trouble learning new information and are not comfortable with written communications and participation in online discussions, or are not used to solving problems on your own, you may want to reconsider your decision to take an online course. Such courses usually provide less support from the instructor than may be necessary for you. An online course also requires at least 10 hours a week, which you may not be ready to spend at this time. Regarding your technical readiness, you don’t appear to have many of the necessary technical aids to take an online course and don’t seem to be very comfortable surfing and searching online for course resources. You might try an online course when you have gained more experience with computer, study, and time-management skills.

Score: 11-25

It looks like you might work better when external organization is imposed on you. While this may work just fine in a face-to-face class, an online class requires more independence in setting and following work goals and deadlines. In an online course you will have to pace yourself and figure out things on your own or with somewhat limited assistance from the instructor. As far as time management, you may want to develop a strategy for keeping yourself on track, such as keeping a written record of your tasks and allocating certain hours to work on each task. To become a successful online learner you may also want to improve your basic learning skills such as reading, listening, writing, and problem solving. Based on your answers about your technical readiness, it seems that you are not very comfortable using the computer for learning. The ability to keep your computer up-to-date, search the Internet and download files is very important for successful online learning. You also need to make sure you have all necessary hardware and software. Overall, it looks like you need to improve either your technology skills or your learning skills before you try an online course.

Score: 26-40

You seem to be fairly well organized and learn fairly easy. That’s good, but you have to remember that learning from an online course usually requires more time and effort, because you will often have to pace yourself and figure out things on your own or with limited support from the instructor. If you want to improve your organizational skills, you may consider allocating certain hours to work on each individual task to stay on track, to work on it the first thing in the morning, and to keep a written record of your tasks and assignments. These strategies will help you not fall behind in the class. Most online courses consist mainly of written text, but a lot of them now also include video and/or audio recordings or podcasts. You will also have to communicate in writing with the instructor and your classmates. You may need to improve your basic learning skills such as reading, listening, writing, and problem solving. Since you have reported that you are fairly good at using the computer and the Internet, you should have no problem interacting with the online course environment. However, you may lack some of the necessary technical tools. Make sure you have help from someone who knows computers pretty well. Overall, you seem to need to work on some of your learning and time management skills before trying an online course. If you follow the recommendations above, you should be able to be fairly successful in an online course.

Score: 41-50

You seem to be well organized. Good organization and time management skills are very important for online learning, as you will have to work independently much of the time. You are prepared to pace yourself, figure out things on your own and communicate with people in writing. You generally seem to realize that taking an online course is more time consuming and requires more study discipline than a face-to-face class. Overall, you will probably do fairly well in an online course, with a little extra effort on your part.

Score: 51-60

You seem to realize that online courses require a considerable amount of time and you are willing to spend it. You have a perfect studying environment with minimum distractions. You finish all projects you start and are persistent in reaching your goals. You seem to learn very easily, have good problem-solving skills and feel very comfortable using online communications and discussing course topics with people you have never seen. All these are very important qualities for successful online learning and you seem to be fully prepared to take charge of your own learning process. That fact that you consistently do things in advance and keep track of all your assignments also bodes well for your success in online learning. It looks like you are a very experienced computer user and shouldn’t have any problems accessing or interacting with the online course.

Survey adapted from Penn State Learning Design Community Hub