Success factors for online learners

The National Center for Online Learning Research publishes the Journal of Interactive Online Learning as a resource online educators and instructional designers with the purpose of, “providing a venue for manuscripts, critical essays, and reviews that encompass disciplinary and interdisciplinary perspectives in regards to issues related to higher-level learning outcomes” (“About JIOL,” 2004). This peer-reviewed journal aims to not only disseminate timely research pertaining to interactive online education but also to deepen the level of knowledge available regarding innovations and application of online education.

Smith and Winking-Diaz refer to success factors for online learners in their article entitled, “Increasing Students’ Interactivity in an Online Course”. They refer to the necessity for online learners to understand the online learning processes in order for them to be successful (Smith & Winking-Diaz, 2004). The relatively high attrition rates in online learning settings can be attributed to unclear perceptions of online methodology and course requirements. They also stress for learners to have possess a level of self-motivation and to be willing to interact with the content, learners, and instructor (Smith & Winking-Diaz, 2004). The rich collaborative environment is one which many online learners do not initially expect or are prepared for.

As I reflect on my own online learning experiences, I find myself whole-heartedly agreeing with Smith and Winking-Diaz. I’ve seen many learners through my online master’s and now doctoral degree coursework initially opt for the online mode of learning simply because they thought it would be an easy way to complete a course. What these learners have found that to the contrary of that idea, the online format is a much more engaging, intense, and rich format of learning than any traditionalistic means of learning. I’ve seen that as learners experience the benefits of the online format for themselves, these preconceived notions of “easy learning” will be replaced with the concept of “meaningful learning”.

– Jason


About JIOL. (2004) Retrieved April 28, 2004 from,

Smith, M. C., & Winking-Diaz, A. (2004) Increasing students’ interactivity in an online course. Retrieved April 28, 2004 from,