#OL success day 2: why do you learn online and how do you measure your success?

We know from the research literature that motivation is key to success in online learning. But motivation isn’t easily measured. We all have different reasons for engaging with online learning, and the rewards we expect or hope for will help us to decide whether we have been successful or not. Motivations can also change. Through #OLsuccess week we are hearing from learners who have done more than 40 online courses! They may have started out with a specific achievement in mind, but over time the goal has become the experience itself.

#OLsuccess forum1Today we want to know why you choose to learn online? We’d like to hear from you on our discussion forum and via twitter. Perhaps you made the choice to learn and found that online was the only option available – either because of your circumstances or the course requirements. We’d like to hear from you as well. How does having no choice about learning online affect your feelings about it? Do you think it affects your chances of success?

It’s early days to be looking at our survey results but at the moment our participants are choosing ‘Enjoying the learning itself‘ as a measure of success, ahead of ‘Gaining a credit or qualification‘ or ‘Meeting my career goals‘. We need more results before we can be sure about this, and see whether it is related to other factors such as the age of the learner. Also we have not forced respondents to choose only one option, so it may be that enjoyment matters to nearly all of us, but not as much as one of the more tangible outcomes.

On the forum we already have a couple of comments in this thread. One participant says:

‘ [You know you’ve been successful] When you start implementing what you learned into your work. When you are able to have conversation on topics you did not know much about prior to your studies. When you complete the course and want to know more, learn more, top up your knowledge.’

Another made the point that while credit and qualifications are important, especially when students have paid a lot to take part in a course,

‘if I passed an online course with the absolute minimum level of engagement with fellow students and teachers then I personally would consider this to be unsuccessful as an overall experience. This is because I value the ‘hidden curriculum’ learning (discussions, shared learning, new technology skills etc) as much as the assessed elements.’

Our conversations about what people enjoy in online learning (see the Round-Up of Day 1) also provide some clues about what makes them feel successful.

Over to you. What rewards are you looking for when you learn online, and how will you know you’ve achieved them? Questions we’ll be asking today include:

  • Is it important for you to get credit (academic/professional) for online learning?
  • What other rewards do you get from learning online?
  • Are you more motivated by interest in a subject or by seeing an outcome from your learning (e.g. career, personal, community benefit)
  • What counts as ‘online learning’ for you? (Is it big, small, formal, informal…?)
  • What has been your greatest online learning success?

Get involved

Follow #OLsuccess on twitter for quick questions, daily updates, stories and links, or check  our OLsuccess storify account for an overview of recent activity.

Take our ten-minute survey about your experiences of learning online

Join the discussion and share your ideas on our #OLsuccess discussion forum

Tell us your online learning story. Write a blog post, make a video or animation, record a sound file, take a picture or take part in this week’s task from the DS106 creative community – all about online learning. Post it on your chosen online forum. Don’t forget to use the #OLsuccess hashtag so we can find and storify it.

Keep checking this blog for daily updates, storify and more…

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