Online Learning Readiness

To improve your success as an online learner, you need to know what type of online learner you are and how to get the most out of your online classes.

Following is a short Learning Self-Assessment which will identify your personal online learner profile. It will provide you with strategies and suggestions for being a successful online learner and introduce you to the process of taking an online class at Syracuse University.

What is Online Learning at Syracuse University?

Before you begin your online class, it’s important to understand that online learning is any type of learning that utilizes a course management system (such as Blackboard) or some other type of online instructional technology.

Because many classroom-based courses use online instructional technologies, Syracuse University defines online learning as any learning that occurs in one of the following types of class settings:

Online Synchronous Non-residency
Students and instructors are physically separated but interacting and exchanging course content online in real-time during scheduled class sessions. You will not have any physical face-to-face interaction with your classmates or instructor (except as mediated by technology).

Online Synchronous Residency
Limited physical face-to-face class meetings (the residency), followed or preceded by real-time online interaction during scheduled class sessions.

Online Asynchronous Non-residency
Students and instructors are physically separated. The course content is accessed online, primarily without scheduled class sessions or real-time interaction.

Online Asynchronous Residency
Limited face-to-face interactions and on-campus meetings, followed or preceded by online interactions primarily without scheduled class sessions or real-time interaction.

What Online Learning is Not

Online learning is not for everyone.

Many new students to online learning make the mistake of assuming that their online class will be easier or better than the classroom-based version of the course. To the contrary, online classes are as rigorous as classroom-based courses and often require greater time commitments and focus. As such, students enrolled in online classes need to be:

  • Self-motivated and self-disciplined
  • Good time managers
  • Well organized
  • Strong readers and writers
  • Computer literate

You may notice that these are the same characteristics of all successful students – regardless of the type of course delivery.

Characteristics of Successful Online Learners

Self-motivated and Self-disciplined
Having a compelling reason for taking an online class will motivate you to stick with it. Integrate online classes into your schedule to blend your learning experience. Mix it up.

Good Time Manager
Your online class may be accelerated and require a significant and focused commitment on your part. Think of these blocks of time as reserved time and schedule them on your calendar. If you miss too many scheduled sessions, revise your learning schedule accordingly. Don’t let yourself get behind!

Well Organized
Organize the course goals into a study schedule. Identify the times when you are fresh and attentive. Stay focused on the course. Signal to your roommate or family that you are in learning mode and cannot be distracted.

Strong Reader and Writer
Written materials and written responses are a primary source of instruction in most online classes. Pay careful attention to written instruction and be certain that you understand what is being asked when answering questions or posting responses to class discussions.

Computer Literate
Online classes can use rich-media such as audio, movies, and graphics. It is important that you understand how to view these media correctly on your computer. You should also understand how to download and upload files from your computer.

What Type of Learner Are You?

As an online learner, you are going to use a range of strategies to get the most of your online class. The strategies that work best for you are based on the way you prefer to learn new things.

We all have a preference for learning new things. They key is understanding which preference (or approach) will work best for us in an online class.

The acronym VARK stands for Visual, Aural, Read/write, and Kinesthetic sensory modalities that are used for learning information. Fleming and Mills (1992) suggested four modalities that seemed to reflect the experiences of the students and teachers. Although there is some overlap among them, they are defined as follows:

Remember life (and work) are multimodal so there are no hard and fast boundaries.

How Do You Learn Best?

Complete the VARK Questionnaire.

Take what you now know about your online learning style to succeed in your online class! Use your customized strategies and learning preferences to get the most out of your class, your instructor, and yourself.

Remember, online learning is a flexible way to complete your program requirements. Start out slowly. Take one online class at a time until you have adjusted to the online learning environment. And don’t forget to use your learning styles, strategies, and preferences to be better prepared.

*Note: Content below provided by VARK-LEARN Limited,