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Online Learner Readiness

A guide to help students understand the knowledge, skills, attitudes, and strategies necessary to be successful in an online course


So, you're considering taking an online class. That's great! This guide will help you understand the knowledge, skills, attitudes, and strategies you will need.

Successful online learners...

  • ​Can communicate well in writing
  • Exhibit self-motivation and discipline
  • Show a willingness to share their thoughts with others online
  • Ensure they have access to a fairly up-to-date computer and sufficient Internet bandwidth
  • Demonstrate basic computer skills
  • Make a commitment to the required number of hours to study each week
  • Complete coursework with the knowledge that online learning is often more challenging than onsite courses
  • Meet deadlines
  • Troubleshoot and communicate issues as needed 

Participation and Communication

An online course requires a commitment to really jump in with both feet.

Successful online learners...

  • Consider their own participation as an important part of classmates’ online experience, especially if group work is involved
  • Plan to participate several days a week
  • Write with sufficient clarity to communicate well with classmates, e.g. in discussion forums
  • Keep netiquette in mind, communicating with respect and professionalism
  • Make sufficient contributions to any group projects
  • Convey any difficulties to the instructor in a timely manner

Time Management

Sample course calendar

Managing your time well is important for face-to-face courses and crucial for online ones.

Successful online learners...

  • Avoid procrastination to complete coursework on time
  • Set a schedule to work on the course a minimum number of hours each week; for a 3-credit course offered in 8 weeks, this could mean up to 15 hours a week


The online environment calls for students to manage potential challenges with self-directed learning.

Successful online learners...

  • Address any difficulties with reading comprehension or writing ability before the class begins or at the outset
  • Obtain the necessary computer skills, including use of the learning management system, before or immediately after the course begins
  • Take responsibility for their learning and for seeking help when academic or technical issues arise

Contact Us

Center for Instructional Design and Technology • • 208.467.8034 • Learning Commons 146