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Online Learning Readiness Tutorial: The Principles of Online Learning

Dispelling the Myths about Online Learning

The following video will help dispel some common misconceptions about online learning and will explain what you can expect of an online class. Watch the video attentively, then answer the questions that follow.

The video can easily be watched at 1.5 times the speed . You cannot skip ahead but you can rewind in ten-second intervals .

Source: 7 Common Misconceptions About Distance Learning (Aug 21, 2014), by LearnUSI is licensed through YouTube 
by The Department of Distance Learning at the University of Southern Indiana.

Video Quiz Question

Exploring the Differences between Learning In-Person and Learning Online

undefined Being self-directed is the most important skill you can develop as an online learner.

An important difference between learning in person and learning online is the amount of independent study that it requires.

Where learning in-person tends to be teacher-centred and/or lecture-driven, online learning is more learning-centred and learner-driven. As an online learner, you will find that you have the flexibility to learn where you want and when you want but this does not mean that there will be less work to do. In fact, the workload in an online course might demand more of your time. While you may not be expected to physically attend a lecture, you will still be required to actively participate.

Active participation in an online class leads to greater academic success.

The success of an online class depends on the level of commitment made by each member of the class. Research shows that the most successful online classes have well-established learning communities which are groups of students who actively participate with the content and with each other. This means being fully prepared to contribute by

  • watching videos/lecture recordings,
  • completing assigned readings, 
  • participating in discussion forums, and
  • collaborating on group assignments.

  Learning independently means taking the initiative to develop the skills you need to succeed.

Learning to work independently can be challenging to start, but as many seasoned online learners report, learning online can be both meaningful and worthwhile because it affords a level of flexibility, autonomy, and engagement not customarily found in an in-person class.

Learning independently means taking the initiative to develop good

  • time management and organizational skills
  • communication and help-seeking skills
  • reading and writing skills

Being Self-Directed and Staying Motivated

In the typical in-person learning environment, you’ve been able to depend on the teacher to give you one-to-one assistance and to remind you about upcoming assignments. In an online learning environment, however, the onus shifts to you, the learner, to keep up with the readings and lecture recordings so that you can contribute to discussion forums and group assignments. The instructor is present, but more as a guide, to provide the learning materials and the support you may need to meet both the course’s learning outcomes and your personal learning goals.

In addition to learning independently, being self-directed means being willing to seek help when you need it. An unwillingness to ask for help can be demotivating, especially true online, so it is important to actively seek out help when needed.

This short interactive video introduces three important ways to successfully manage your online course and become more self-directed in your learning. The video can easily be watched at 1.5 times the speed and will pause at regular intervals to test your understanding. You cannot skip ahead but you can rewind in ten-second intervals .

Source: How to Effectively Study with Online Courses (June 8, 2016) by BYU Independent Study is licensed through YouTube by Brigham Young University

Online Learning with Integrity

Academic Integrity is a cornerstone of all the work you will do at university.

"The International Centre for Academic Integrity proposes six core values to help guide your work, ensuring that it is fair and honest and received in good faith. These core values [honesty, trust, fairness, respect, responsibility and courage] provide an important foundation for the learning you will do and for the fair assessment of the work you produce."
- USask Academic Integrity Tutorial

There is a perception that students in online classes are more likely to cheat.  However, some studies suggest that academic dishonesty is more prevalent in face-to-face classes than in online courses, partly due to the ease with which online assignments can be checked for plagiarism3.

Regardless of this perception, learning with integrity in an online class means following the same rules you would if you were in a face-to-face class and includes,

  • not seeking to gain an unfair advantage over others,
  • following all assignment, quiz and exam instructions carefully, and
  • acknowledging with citations, all information your access from elsewhere, and all collaborative work you engage in with others

If you are ever unsure of the rules, seek clarification by contacting your instructor or Ask Us at the library.

To learn more about academic integrity, how to avoid plagiarism, and your rights and responsibilities as a student, visit the Academic Integrity webpage, or, after completing this tutorial, consider completing the Academic Integrity Tutorial.

1. The ideas about being self directed and developing an independent learning mindset are adapted from Learning to Learn Online by Kwantlen Polytechnic University and is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.
2. University of Saskatchewan, Academic Integrity Tutorial (2018), licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

3. Peterson, Jennifer. "An Analysis of Academic Dishonesty in Online Classes." Mid-Western Educational Researcher 31, no. 1 (2019).