Prerequisite Knowledge and Tools for Assessing Students' Readiness for Online Learning
Keywords:Prerequisite Knowledge, Online Learning, Student Readiness Tool
Most often, online instructors start and welcome their new students in their classes with the imagination that a new class is an extension of their previous class. In other words, they assume that every student in their new class has the basic skills and/or knowledge needed to engage in an online learning. Similarly, many students enroll in online course for convenience to the detriment of being a good fit, prepared and ready. Suffice it to say that many online learners engage in online learning without self examination to know whether they have the traits of successful online learner and the prerequisite knowledge. Thus, this paper highlights some basic, but important traits and pre-requisite skills a learner should acquire prior to enrolling in an online course. Using available literature, this paper isolates the basic traits and knowledge considered to be ‘sine qua non’ in online learning. Some of these traits include self motivation/discipline, ability to communicate in writing, a willingness to commit four to fifteen hours per week per course, and the feeling that high-quality learning can take place without going to the traditional classroom. In addition, online learner must possess basic computer literacy skills such as knowledge of basic hardware/software, the ability to perform computer operations, internet skills, online communication skills, and basic terminologies. Furthermore, online learner must have imperative basic knowledge, such as browser, plug-ins, and Java that are relative to the Course Management System (CMS). The paper also focuses on developing a tool for assessing the readiness of online learners. The tool is a self assessment Five-points Likert Rating Scale that requests respondents to honestly rate their traits and level of knowledge/skills against some listed items. The rating scale is divided into sections - the bio data with no personal identification, online learning traits, and basic online learning skills, which include hard/soft wares, internet, CMS skills, and basic terminologies. Whereas intending online learners can use this tool to assess the degree of their readiness, instructors can use it to assess students’ level of preparedness with the view of finding where help and/or remedial lessons are needed. This paper will help in sensitizing instructors, school administrators/technologists, and students on the immediate needs and smooth ‘take off’ of online students in each online course session.
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