Critical success factors for on-line learning

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Critical Success Factors for On-line Learning
Learning on line requires a different preparation by and for the learner than does learning in a physical classroom. Such preparation may be consideredfrom either the learner’s or the institution’s perspective. Learner’s Perspective Because the on-line or virtual learning environment relies to a large extent on computer-based technology for accessto materials, colleagues, and experts, learners need to acquire basic computer literacy skills. They need to be able to interact with the computer through the keyboard and to move within theircomputer’s graphical environment. Also, because computers are largely text based, good reading and writing skills are crucial.1 Another necessary technology-related skill is the ability to navigate theInternet. Those who intend to learn in this medium have to know—or be taught—where to locate information quickly and how to keep track of it.2,3 Search engines that organize and categorize data on the Webprovide directory assistance in locating such sources. Examples are Lycos and Excite. Another search engine, Yahoo, uses increasingly narrow categories to help limit the research results as the searchprogresses. Specialized search engines such as companysleuth.com provide useful supplemental information for business-focused searches, while others, such as the Encyclopedia Britannica, are useful formore research-focused searches. Self-motivation is a critical success factor in on-line learning. Strong independent learning skills, including good time management, are equally essential.Furthermore, research using the Internet requires a strong sense of focus in order to avoid “Internet addiction” or time wastage as users follow interesting links that do not advance the original inquiry.4Students who are new to this learning environment may do well to restrict themselves to courses with short timeframes in order to quickly evaluate their ability to succeed in learning online.5 New...
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