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1.1.2. Characteristics of Online Learning

Considerations on Online Learning

Quality online learning has to display the following ten characteristics, which are essential for sustained learning further described here .


Knowledge is not to be transmitted but rather constructed. One can not  “delegate learning.” This means that instead of presenting learners with a fact and then ask them to memorize it, we should rather ask them to find things out themselves, using a variety of resources and sources of information and then try to apply new knowledge to different situations. Apart from construction we can have co-construction, in which case we ask students to carry out their study working in groups, solving problems and creating things together.

Responsibility of learners

Learners can take responsibility for their own learning, which means to pick up their goals, carry out their investigation in the way they feel is most appropriate, and finally check the results of their study. They can also go back as many times as they consider to be necessary in order to repeat something or complement their learning.

Internal Motivation

The above condition has an additional result, that of giving the capacity to the learners to choose and study matters which are of interest to them, and therefore, it increases internal motivation.

Learning style

Moreover, choice means also that the learners can work according to their learning style or according to their thinking mode. They can pick up the resources that are most likely to make things more understandable to them; work things out in the best way they can (which is, follow their own learning patterns and modes of thinking); carry out analysis and synthesis according to what they are trying to achieve; present their results in their own particular ways, etc.


Reflection is proved to be a vital process of learning, so every course of study needs to accommodate it. In other words, in quality courses there should be time allocated that students would be encouraged to reflect on their learning and remodify this process if necessary.

Active learning experiences

The web learning experience should also be combined and/or complemented by active learning experiences. In this case, students will have to carry out physical tasks before they come back to report their results.


Collaborative activities should be a substantial part of the online course.

Review & Revision

It would be beneficial if a “spiral” process enabled the learners to review, revise and apply again knowledge they gained at prior stages.

Prior learning

A quality online course should also accommodate a process of detecting and rectifying inaccuracies in prior learning, or false impressions and misconceptions (although this proves to be a deeper cultural process.


Finally, the primary instructor should be able to guide the whole process and help students through difficulties either of technical or of general nature. This means that instructors should be competent both on the use of technology and on the subject matter they want to teach.