What makes Online Learners Successful? A week to find out!

As part of the Jisc Online Learners Expectations and Experiences study we are launching #OLsuccess – a week of interactions to engage online learners and find out more about their experiences. #OLsuccess will run from 4 to 10 July. In this time we want to reach out to as many online learners as possible and to the people who work with them, to find out what makes for a successful online learner.

Activities will include quick polls and short surveys, twitter chats, social media sharing, blog posts and an online discussion forum. We will be releasing a series of questions and blog posts throughout the week to stimulate discussion. We want to know what successful online learners do, how they feel about their online experiences, what works for learners with different motivations and needs, how they overcome barriers and what educators can do to support them better. Each day we will launch a new question/s and we will be encouraging learners to offer their voice – either as short comments, conversations with other learners, visual content, soundbites, videos or reflective tweets and posts.

The questions we ask have arisen from an extensive review of the literature about online learners. We’ve also consulted with an expert working group and their contacts to identify key issues. These include online learners’ motivations and habits, their feelings about learning, and their satisfactions and successes. We’ll be releasing our early findings here very soon! But there is more we need to know, which is why we are reaching out to key stakeholders through #OLsuccess.

For the purposes of the study we assume that most learners in post-compulsory settings experience some online element to their learning, formal or informal. We also know that as learners move away from the classroom into work-based, lifelong or professional learning, this element is likely to be larger and more important. So for us, online learners are not a distinct group: they are post-compulsory learners in particular situations and settings, or with a particular preference or need to access their learning online.

By focussing on what makes online learners successful we can untangle some of the complex literature and research in this area. We know that there are strong motivational and affective aspects to online success. Learners bring their own prior experiences, capabilities and ‘readiness to learn’ that can seem difficult for providers to influence, especially on short courses. But it is also possible to identify effective strategies and habits. There are many ways in which the online environment and the approach to teaching, sharing and facilitation have a strong influence on the outcomes for learners.

To find out more visit and bookmark our dedicated forum and follow #OLsuccess. Watch out for provocations in the usual social media and email channels.

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