E-Learning Study Skills and Strategies

By Watkins, Ryan | Distance Learning, May 1, 2004 | Go to article overview
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E-Learning Study Skills and Strategies

Watkins, Ryan, Distance Learning

The study skills and learning strategies that most of us have developed throughout our educational experiences are our most valuable resource as we transition from the traditional classroom to the e-learning online classroom. Yet, for instructors and learners alike, success in traditional courses does not always translate into success in online courses. Often, the same study skills and learning strategies that have been the foundation of our success in the past must be updated or modified in order to have the same positive impact on our learning when we move into a virtual environment.

As a result, for both instructors and learners, two fundamental skills that a necessary for success in e-learning are: (a) the ability to adapt traditional study skills into online success strategies, and (b) the capacity to adopt new techniques for learning and communicating effectively in the online environment.

For most of us, online success does not come from applying the skills and strategies that we have developed through our previous experiences that were rooted in the traditional high school, college, or training classroom. The new e-learning environment requires that we reexamine the strategies we use to achieve success.

For example, through our previous experiences, most of us have formed many useful techniques for developing positive working relationships with our fellow learners in the classroom, which typically translate to success when we are asked to work together as teams or when study groups are formed. From making a good first impression to staying organized, we habitually strive to exemplify the skills that lead to success when working with others.

Yet, when the environment moves to online discussion boards and chat rooms, many of these strategies we have developed for the face-to-face environment must either be adapted for the technologies or new tactics must be adopted. To make a good first impression online, learners (and instructors) should:

* Take a few extra minutes to check, and recheck, the grammar and spelling in their initial e-mails. Proper grammar and spelling can go a long way toward making a good impression.

* Take time to personalize their e-mails. Making a good first impression typically requires a personal touch.

* Provide fellow learners with their contact information (i.e., the e-mail account you want them use, your instant messenger name, or even your phone numbers if want them to call you). Being able to contact each other is a first step in developing positive relations.

* Make a conscious effort to substitute for the non-verbal cues that they regularly rely on for building successful relationships in the traditional classroom, by using common emoticons, abbreviations, and other online communication techniques.

* Include specific information regarding what should happen next (for example, indicating when they will respond to an email, proposing next steps to be taken, asking questions they would like to have answered in the next communication). By illustrating their organization and planning, they can develop positive relationships with their online peers.

As you can see from this limited example, the strategies and skills for online success are often a combination of adapting habits from the traditional classroom, along with adopting some new talents.

The secret to our success, and the success of our learners, is therefore being able to develop effective study skills and learning strategies for this new learning environment. For each new technology that we use to communicate online, there are a variety of study skill and learning strategy considerations that instructors and learners should consider in preparing for success. Below are 10 essential study tips and learning strategies that can be used effectively by online learners when participating in online discussions:


Synchronous or real-time chats provide learners with one of the few online experiences in which they can receive immediate replies to their questions or comments, thereby allowing for a conversation to develop with the spontaneity of the traditional classroom.

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