Step 2: Assess

Is this online option right for my student? 

Did you find a course or courses that interest you and your student in our catalog of online learning? If so, now is the time to evaluate your student's ability to be successful with an online course.

This section of our 4-step process provides an opportunity to discuss your student's educational goals, learning style, personal strengths and areas where your student may need additional support.

Review these Characteristics of Successful Online Learners

  1. Self-motivated - Students who can direct their own learning environment, fulfill course requirements and achieve individual academic success.
  2. Independent learner - The online environment enables students to learn at their own pace, whether it's traditional, extended or accelerated, relieving the stress of feeling rushed or pressured and providing enjoyment in the learning process.
  3. Computer literate - Although it's not necessary to have advanced computer skills, students should possess a working knowledge of electronic email, the Internet and basis keyboarding skills.
  4. Time management - Students must be able to organize and plan their own best "time to learn." There is no one best time for everyone, but the key to learning is to commit the time to learn.
  5. Effective writing skills - Students must use electronic email to communicate with their peers as well as their instructors. The ability to write clearly in order to communicate ideas and assignments is very important to student success as well as a means to inform instructors of any concerns or problems.
  6. Personal commitment - Since there are no bells that begin and end classes, students must have a strong desire to learn and achieve knowledge and skills via online courses. Making a commitment to learn in this manner is a very personal decision and requires a strong commitment to participate in order to achieve academic success.
  7. Seek help when needed - Often students give up when faced with an assignment or activity they are struggling with. It is essential that students develop a habit of seeking help when stuck with a difficult task.
  8. Take responsibility for one's own education - Too often education is something done to students and not something they are committed to. Taking responsibility for one's own education requires a significant mind shift for some students but is especially important in an online environment.
  9. Balance school and personal life - An online education, like an f2f education, requires students to balance the many demands and responsibilities they have in their lives. This requires the student to plan for time needed to be a successful learner as well as time to be a healthy human being.

Courtesy of Wisconsin and Illinois virtual schools

Does This Sound Like Your Student?

How closely does this sound like your student? Which characteristics come naturally for your student? Which ones may be difficult for him or her? Ask your student these same questions and discuss how their answers might impact their success in face-to-face or online courses.

Online learning requires learners to be very independent and self-motivated. While a certified teacher will be assigned to each course a student takes, it is the student who is in control of her time on task, completing all reading assignments and other course requirements. Experience also tells us those students who are successful online learners also have strong support from their parents or guardians, who provide motivation and encouragement.

Have a conversation with your student. Make sure he or she understands what it takes to be successful in an online course. The requirements will be the same as if the student were taking course in a traditional class, but without the daily instructional support.

Does the online course still seem like a good option for your student? If so, ask your student to take the Online Readiness Questionnaire. This is a good time for you to have a conversation with your student about his or her abilities, study habits and time management skills. This will help you learn more about your learner's strengths and weaknesses, and where you may need to provide assistance in an online class.

Once the student completes the Online Readiness Questionnaire and you have the conversation about online learning, determine if you wish to proceed with an online course. If the answer is "yes," please fill out the Student Application Form at the back of this booklet. Now it's time to meet with your student's school counselor to discuss next steps. Be sure to take the completed Student Application Form to this meeting.

Step 3 - Talk