Get into the minds of your online students

A research company in the US called Tracking Online Education says that the number of students taking online courses grew to 5.8 million nationally, continuing a growth trend that has been consistent for the last 10 years. More than a quarter of higher education students are enrolled in at least one online course. So it is worth taking a moment to get to know your online students better before you set up an online course or online school.

Qualities of the successful online student

There are no recipes for success. However, there are basic qualities that distinguish successful online students. Knowing these may help you get the most out of your online course and also add value to your students by motivating them to better develop themselves in their desired direction.

  • Comfort with technology: If one can’t get onto the internet, they can’t access the class. If one can’t access the class, they can’t do their lessons. Before a student signs up for an online class they have to be able to work with and be comfortable using technology. Technology is ever evolving, which is something that the successful online student should be aware of and even excited about (Interested in Educational Tech Conferences).
  • Inquisitive nature: In an online course it is important to be able to reach out to your instructor and classmates when you have questions and need clarification as soon as the need arises. The successful student is not afraid of looking for opportunities, both inside and outside of class, and likes finding out more about the course material.
  • Respect the netiquette: Netiquette refers to etiquette on the internet. Since the majority of interaction in an online class is via virtual rooms, it is very important to understand all of the rules. When chatting, for example, bold font and capital letters are seen as yelling, so students need to be careful – breaking set rules can cause discomfort for others.
  • Self-discipline: An independent approach to learning, self-direction in getting started in each course and staying on schedule with assignments will be helpful for each online experience. Start developing good habits like time management skills and proper study techniques. The online process takes real commitment and discipline to keep up with the flow.

Get to know your online students

After knowing all of the basic qualities that create excellent online students, it is time to find out more about them. Studies show that:

  • 80% of online students live within 100 miles of the institution they attend
  • 32% of higher education students take at least one online course
  • 46% of online students are motivated by their future career development
  • 20% of online students are between 25-29 years old
  • 19% of online students are between 18-24 years old
  • 70% of online students are female, while only 30% are male• 70% of online students are female, while only 30% are male
  • 60% are employed full-time
  • 68% choose online courses because they can balance work, family, and school responsibilities

Find more surprising facts about online education here.

Common challenges facing the online audience

  • Motivation – With no in-person interactions with the instructor or with fellow students, it can be easy to forget assignments and deadlines unless the student is well organized. Online courses often require just as much work as traditional classes, so putting off coursework can leave students struggling when deadlines approach. Because online courses are not supervised in the same way as traditional classes, the student must stay motivated and organized to succeed. Some students find that designating specific times for coursework helps them.
  • Socialization – Is it possible to be an online student without losing contact with people? Often, activities in the digital classroom exclude the social part of the process. For some students, this can be a tough challenge to overcome. There are many terrific aspects to online education, however not having an in-person interaction with someone can be challenging. Interacting physically creates real bonds and a support system for the student. Hopefully, within the framework of most degree programs, there will be enough opportunities to have real social interaction with peers.
  • Adaptation – Switching from the traditional classroom and learning with a live instructor to a virtual classroom is an entirely different learning experience for students. Their resistance to change may not allow them to adapt to the online learning environment, and it probably will take a certain amount of time for them to get used to the new methods and learning styles. Students with a traditional mindset may find it difficult to adapt, but understanding the benefits of e-learning by discussing them with peers may successfully prepare students for online classes.

Focus on what’s working over the long run

When creating your online course, keep in mind that people learn best when the material is presented to them in a specific way. The learning process for your online students will be a huge success if:

  • learners are engaged in solving real-world problems
  • existing knowledge is activated as a foundation for new knowledge
  • new knowledge is demonstrated to the learner
  • new knowledge is applied by the learner
  • new knowledge is integrated into the learner’s world



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Tanya Ilieva has strong experience in journalism, advertising, creative copywriting and digital marketing. She has a PhD in Graphic design from Faculty of Journalism and Mass Communication in Sofia University “St. Kliment Ohridski”. Some of her creative works in advertising has been rewarded both in Bulgaria and abroad. Her fields of interest include: philosophy of language, semiotics, visual metaphors, linguistic.
VEDAMO Virtual Classroom
For the past nine years we have been providing a platform purpose-built for education.
VEDAMO Virtual Classroom
For the past nine years we have been providing a platform purpose-built for education.