As a faculty member and an advisor I often get students asking me about whether or not they could be successful in online courses. The answer is usually, “yes,” with several qualifiers such as, “as long as you can effectively manage your time,” or “as long as you can stay motivated to do your best throughout the course.” These are often my thoughts, rather than solid research-based answers.
Recently, though, I attended Quality Matters’ Annual Conference on Quality Assurance in Online Learning and listened to a presentation about the research out of the College of Southern Maryland. In this report, numerous learning readiness indicators were measured: individual attributes (i.e., motivation), life factors (i.e., time available), comprehension ability, general knowledge, reading rate and recall, and typing speed and accuracy. Their goal was to determine which of these significantly impacts student success in an online course.
Their results suggest that only reading rate and recall, and typing speed and accuracy were significantly influencing student success in these online courses. This finding caused me to reconsider what I share with students regarding their potential success in an online course, but it also caused me to wonder whether those students who are less prepared in these areas for online courses could go through tutorials that would be created to improve their reading and typing skills.
Also, I will strive to look for resources that could help my students improve their reading and/or typing skills, such as ideas listed here on the Teaching Professor Blog or here from Faculty Focus. While all the ideas presented here might not help in my specific courses, perhaps they’ll help you consider how to help students who might need a bit of extra practice with reading and typing.