Online learners: 

Plan, monitor, and evaluate their learning 

Are comfortable using written communication 

Are resourceful 

Are comfortable using computers, identifying reliable information, and creating content with digital applications.

Start by listening to the audio clip below. You can also read a written transcript and access an activity handout by clicking the links below the audio player.

What does it mean learning online?

According to the experts, Learning is “a process that leads to change, which occurs as a result of experience and increases the potential for improved performance and future learning” (Ambrose et al, 2010, p.3). This change may happen in either the knowledge, psychomotor or affective domains 

 The knowledge domain refers to learning a new concept, theory, or process. 

An example of the psychomotor domain is when you learned to play a musical instrument or learned how to operate machinery. 

And when you learned how to keep yourself motivated, or how to handle your emotions, you made a change in the affective domain. 

According to this definition of learning, you are learning all the time: from how to use the washing machine to how to solve an immediate problem to taking certificate courses or to attending university and being prepared to earn a living. 

We will focus our attention on learning that occurs in a formal setting to acquire the necessary knowledge and skills to do your job better, change your career path, or to start a career.  

In a face-to-face setting, an instructor and learners meet at the same place and follow the same schedule. Usually, the instructor is the central figure. That is, learners take direction about what, when, and where to learn from their instructor. Also, learners can spontaneously form friendships with their peers as they can communicate instantly and directly. 

When you take an online course, you and your peers will be learning from various geographical points and performing learning activities, mainly, at different times. This means that you will not be necessarily meeting with your peers to attend lectures every week or getting immediate feedback from your professor while completing an activity in class. Also, it may take more time and effort to make friends in your class, and even more so to coordinate with your peers to complete team assignments as all of you may reside in different cities and even different countries from around the world. 

Online learning, or learning online, is a type of distance learning as it makes use of the internet and other digital technologies to enable learning anytime and anywhere. Therefore, the ability to manage your own learning, to feel comfortable using written communications and technology, and being resourceful are paramount for your success.  

Let’s take a closer look at each of these elements starting with managing your own learning. 

 

Who are Independent Learners? 

Because of the nature of online learning just described, you will need to take the driving seat in your learning journey. That is, you will need to take control of your learning by becoming an independent learner.  As you gain experience as an online learner, your independent learner skills will develop to the point you will have your own system or method to apply when learning online and in any other setting. 

You can start developing your independent learning skills, or polishing them, by getting used to going through the process of planning, monitoring, and evaluating your learning while taking a course. 

Planning involves deciding what you need to learn and how you are going to learn the selected material 

Monitoring is about asking yourself constantly what you learned well, what material is being difficult to learn and how the strategies you chose to learn are working for you. 

Evaluating gives insight as to whether you have met the objectives for a given unit or module of material. It includes reflecting on the feedback received from the instructor on assignments and activities to adjust as needed the planning and monitoring of your learning. 

 

What are Digital Skills? 

Online learners use the Internet to take their courses. This means that online learners need to possess digital literacy skills. Skills that allow learners to engage with computers and the Internet, skills to find, evaluate and effectively use information to communicate, collaborate and solve problems, and skills to produce content and effectively communicate through a variety of digital media.  

Why written communication skills? 

Online learners interact with their peers and the instructor using technology. More often than not, online learners communicate via email, messaging, or in discussion boards. Hence writing skills are important to get their point across and to demonstrate their understanding. 

 

Resourcefulness

Online learners become resourceful since they may take their courses from various geographical points at different time zones. This means that at times they will need to find on their own, solutions to unexpected situations. From having problems connecting to the internet to how to create a backup file of an assignment.  

Online learners can prepare for the unexpected by building a support network. The support network consists of resources online learners can count on when needed. Some of these resources could be a list of websites for technical questions that include tutorials and how to’s, a directory with the educational institution contacts information for technical support, student services, and the instructor as well as their websites and resources for student success, and any peers, friends, and co-workers that have experience learning online. 

 

Click HERE to download the handout with guiding questions you can use to plan, monitor, and evaluate your learning as you go through this course. 

Resources

Click HERE to view the Independent Learner Infographic

Click HERE to view the Online Learning Infographic


Question 1:

Complete the following sentence: To be successful, the three elements online learners need to develop are:

  a) Sense of humor, resourcefulness, and digital literacy 

  b) Independent learning, written communications and digital literacy skills, and resourcefulness 

  c) Independent learning, written communication skills, and digital literacy skills 

b) Independent learning, written communications and digital literacy skills, and resourcefulness 

Question 2:

What are the three steps of the process independent learners constantly perform while taking courses? (Select 3)

  a) Monitor 

  b) Ask questions 

  c) Plan 

  d) Evaluate 

  e) Take notes 

  a) Monitor 

  c) Plan 

  d) Evaluate 

 

Watch the following videos to learn about Learning Styles and the types of online courses you can take at UCalgary Continuing Education.


Question 3:

The two types of online courses offered at UCalgary Continuing Education are:  

 a) Synchronous and asynchronous 

 b) Synchronous and remote 

 c) Blended 

 d) Hybrid 

 a) Synchronous and asynchronous 

CC

Digital Skills for Learning Online is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.