Saturday, 1 October 2016

Fundamental Skills You Need to have Before Opting for an Online Learning Program


Fundamental Skills You Need to have Before Going for an Online Learning Program

I am sure that you’re almost getting exhausted by the time you get to discover this post. I assume you are really searching for a post that will guide you in making the best of your online learning programs.

 Have you given it a thought first to start an online learning? Maybe you haven’t but I so much doubt that. Obviously, your coming here is to really understand the nitty-gritty of online learning and how to go about it. I perceive that you might have a default notion of online learning being stuffed with scammers and fraudsters – I can’t deny that but… we cannot say because people die we shouldn’t be getting pregnant and begetting children.

So let me start by telling you that online learning can be daunting, sometimes uninteresting and ‘dry’. Do not believe the myth that online education is easy, stress-free and enjoying. It can be really challenging and demand almost the same time and interest like the traditional classroom learning (if not even more stressful).

Sorry, I have to start on a negative note. I don’t want to give you the best of it immediately. But why do I say so? Really, if you’re not well equipped with the basic requirements (as I will soon list them) for starting online learning, it will really be a heck of activity to you.

So, for you to be successful in online education, there are basic skills that you need to have. Don’t worry they are not much of a big deal. Below are the six basic skills you need to start and succeed in an online education, I’m pretty sure you will find them helpful.  

     1.   Efficiency in Reading and Writing

Online education is no child’s play. For those who think that because of the flexibility, other things can also be ignored and be neglected. Online education is a serious business and so do every activity that go there.

Most of the lectures are given in textbooks and some in recordings of any type. You are required to participate by submitting assignments and study papers and most of these things require that you read the lecture note thoroughly and then express yourself adequately in writing. Also, there is some avenue to engage in a group forum, which sometimes come in a way of chatting and emailing.

All these require writing and a good knowledge of the subject matter. Your instructor can easily detect when you are understanding the lecture through your messages and writings. So, you need to be adept in writing and avid in reading. It shouldn’t be a strange requirement since every student still needs these skills.

     2.   Knowledge of Computer 

Of course this is obvious and I don’t want to believe that you’re reading this post now without a bit of computer literacy – almost impossible. For you to be a successful online student, enjoy your studies and achieve your goal, then you really need to have an idea of what computer is.
We live in a computer village. It is very rare to come across someone who doesn’t have an idea of a computer. Mind you, when we say something about computer literacy, we don’t mean that you should become Steve Job or hacker or anything of that magnitude. Just a simple knowledge of some computer terminology, lean knowledge of some computer hardware and software. Also you should be able to use the computer keyboard – though it is implied but I have to make it explicit.

The basic knowledge you need about using your computer is these

·         Ability to make use of the basic hardware like mouse and keyboard

·         You should be conversant with typesetting and using of Microsoft Word and other software.

·         A good knowledge of accessing mail, downloading messages and sending messages.

·         You should also know how to make use of the printer, scanner and other hardware you may need for your online education.

·         Using computer also requires you to have a good knowledge of the internet. You should know how to make use of the search engine, access information online and be able to identify relevant sites that can give you the credible information you’re searching for. Also not only searching, sometimes you may be required to communicate online, through chat, social network, Skype and others.

In fact, the very nature of online education requires that you should be conversant with the computer. While using the computer, make sure you install the necessary tools to give you a good experience of online education – you should equip your computer with microphone, webcam and (if you have not registered) register and install Skype on your computer.

     3.     Handy with Search Engine

When I say search engine, I know your mind may immediately go to Google. Yes, Google is a perfect example of a search engine, but that is not all there is. There are thousands (if not millions) of search engines online, providing information to variety of inquiries. Some search engines are specialized in one area others like Google search has a general search database.

Good knowledge of search engine will enable you to be proficient and active in your online education especially when interacting with your classmates in the forum or dialogue. You should be able to identify primary source and secondary source of a particular project online. This will enable you to give relevant information in the forum and suggest links and current issues regarding the course of study. By doing this, you are not only contributing to the class forum but also building yourself with information. Online education is enjoyable when you’re able to source for materials and use them in the forum, and also helping your classmates with them.

So when you are making your search and using the web, try not to concentrate only on one search engine (probably Google), try to diversify and source for materials on various other search engine. You should be able to locate the exact material you are searching and to also be able to distinguish primary sources from secondary sources. A Primary source is the original material whereas secondary sources are ‘daughter materials’ mostly an offshoot of the primary source.

4.   Time Management Skill

Maybe you entered online education with the default notion that it will not consume your time – you will have ample time to do other stuff. Yes that is true and no that is not true. There is no contradiction here. It is true because distance learning gives you alternatives to choose, making you have a flexible time to study but that does not mean total erasing of study time. You will study but at your convenience, and I thing this convenience can be dangerous for someone who lacks time management skills. Although you can enjoy the flexibility in online education, you will have to spend time on it, if you really want to get something out of it. It requires the same time allotment you can give to a course in the traditional school programme. So you see, it is a two way thing. You are free and yet you are not really free.

When starting your course please endeavour to kill, bury, and annihilate any form of procrastination. This can be very deadly and can eat a whole chunk of your time (like cankerworm) if you don’t manage your time well. Try to carry out your assignment as soon as you have the time, don’t shove it aside for a ‘convenient’ time – which you may never have.

Ordinarily, in the traditional school program, we allot time for each course according to the credit unit. For instance, if A course is 3 credit unit and B course is 2 credit unit, the time you spend studying them cannot be the same. You may want to give something like two hours to A course and one hour to B course.

Again, make sure from the outset, to take charge of your learning. Have a study schedule, that is, have a consistent time that is ‘consecrated’ solely for your online education. This will surely help you to have a sense of duty towards your online education. Your schedule should also include your frequency in logging into your course. Do not abandon your course for long, at least try to log in three to four times in a week. Don’t just log in and leave, engage in the group discussions, contribute by making relevant comments. Try to make your presence felt anytime you are online, by this, you will consciously or unconsciously feel attached to your studies and make proper research to enable you discuss proficiently in the group.

To also help you and to keep you on track, try as much as possible to make the syllabus of the course handy to you. If possible print it and keep it on your study table or anywhere that can always meet your sight. This will keep your mind in constant reminder and focused. Then let the syllabus navigate your course while researching for the next group discussion or lecture forum. In addition, make sure to keep record of the assignments given and also their proposed dates for submission or discussion.

5.   Good Collaborative Skill

You are not the only one in that group, and you are not the only one taking the online education from that centre. Yes, there are other people. The online education provides great opportunity to mingle and relate with classmates in groups and conferences. Sometimes, the instructor may give group project and assignments which will require the collaboration of every student. Do not take it as one of those your online chat room that you rarely contribute. Never stay idle in the group, let your presence be felt and try to contribute as much as you can to the group. Make research and direct your classmate to your new findings, by so doing, you are helping them and at the same time, helping yourself.
You should have that ability and readiness to interact and share information with classmates, especially during group projects and assignment. To have a robust collaboration you should consider this.

·         The real-time meeting platform. Consider the platform the group will be using to reach each other. Sometimes, you may not have adequate knowledge about their chosen platform. It is up to you to make suggestions based on a platform that everyone is conversant with. Don’t allow yourself to be cowed into a platform you’re pretty sure you can’t contribute. The platform to be used should be something familiar to all the classmates, platforms like Facebook, Google Hangout are well known and conversant platform, and so it is up to you to acquaint yourself with any of this platforms.

·         Activity in group. Like I have been saying, you must have the disposition to communicate with your classmates. Be active in group communication and share your views, don’t be shy or reticent. The instructor may not see you face to face nor observe your facial disposition in order to ascertain your comprehension; it is only when you engage with others and share your views that the instructor can be able to read deeper into your typed letters and discern whether you are abreast with the subject matter or not.

·         Try to set up a deadline. If you have a group working on a particular project, try as much as possible to stir the attention of your classmates to consider choosing a group leader. Just as this is obtainable in on-campus learning, it is also obtainable in the online education. The group leader should then set deadline for submission of group work. This will put all of the classmates on edge to meet up to the deadline thereby discouraging indolence and laxity.

6.   Self-motivated

Virtually all the skills aforementioned can be rested on self-motivation. I think self-motivation is very essential to enrol, stay and finish a program in online education. You need to be self-motivated to be able to keep up with the discussion forum. Online education can really drain your interest and put you in a quagmire – to quit or to continue. It is only a self-motivated person that can stay put. You should be able to hold yourself together especially during group forum when you realise that your classmates are far off ahead of you. It is an online education and sometimes the lecturer may not detect a slow learner.

If you are such a slow learner, don’t be discouraged, the only thing you have to do is to take a step ahead of your classmates to study within and without the study materials, get yourself acquainted with the necessary materials and suggested materials for the course. If you have not started yet, then you should do this at the very beginning of the course. You should be able to source information by yourself and show great sense of maturity in time keeping and being up to date. With this, it will be almost impossible for you to fail. Set a goal and work with your goal, let it be your guiding star.

I don not mean to exhaust all there are about online learning programs and the skills needed. The list is not exhaustive and so I request you to keep coming or better bookmark this page because I will be updating it, if there is any new idea to add. Remember, sharing is caring, let those you care get this post, it will surely help one or two. Make use of the share button. Do you have something to add to these basic requirements? Then you can use the comment box.


  1. Honestly u must sag you made an excellent research befire putting this things diwn. Thank you Mario for helping with this.

    1. I mean to say... Your post is very helpful