Online Student “Readiness” – Say What?

Regardless of what you call it: “readiness,” “preparedness,” “willingness,” “capability,” “aptitude,” “adroitness,”“alacrity,” or “whatever;” everyone seems to want to measure whether students are “ready” for online learning.

But what are they measuring and what difference does it make? What is it that they really SHOULD be measuring, if anything at all?

These questions (and more) were addressed in a recent webinar by Excellence in e-Education (my company). All the links and resources are shared here – scroll down to Feb. 7, 2012..

We could frame this conversation with some very basic, broad questions:

  1. What does “ready” mean?

  2. How does being “ready” for online learning differ?

  3. Does being “ready” translate into academic success?

There are no “case-closed” types of answers for these questions, but we are learning more all the time about how to develop an informed opinion in this arena.

According to research done by my guest presenter, Melissa Miszkiewicz from Buffalo State College, the question of what constitutes “ready” is another one of those areas where conventional wisdom isn’t backed up by results from research being done.

In a nutshell, what they have found is that being ready for online learning is pretty much the same thing as being ready for learning. Everyone benefits from well-developed time management skills, and the ability to use a computer reasonably well, and self-confidence about your abilities, and purpose or motivation that spurs you on. Even then, there are too many factors at play to guarantee success in online learning or any other kind of learning. Read more about it (and watch the webinar archive) at Excellence in e-Education.

My tweet below led to this reply from Jared.

Even though many of those readiness surveys are rather lame, I do think there’s some value in them (although they could still be much better). As was pointed out near the end of the webinar, these surveys can be useful in helping students understand what they’re getting into if they are totally unfamiliar with online learning. It’s one more way of clarifying the college’s expectations about online learning – or at least it could/should be.

Better yet – just make a clear, concise list of what an online learner can expect when they take online courses from your college. Simple to do, and more effective.

CC-attribution photo By Philo Nordlund

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