There has been so much research into this over the years. If you google similar topics you will come up with a multitude of articles and research.
I am not even going to attempt to answer this question in my post but instead I am going to expand on what I consider is not an enjoyable online learning experience for me.
My life is really busy with demands from work, family and friends. Yet somewhere in that mayhem I still need to find time to learn. As an educator I have committed to a journey of life long learning and my future will always hold some form of study or learning.
So if I was to enrol in your course this is what I would need:
Access to content and resource 24 hours per day.
A guideline of dates for submission of assessments and unit completions that is flexible. I want autonomy.
I get bored in courses where there are useless activities and assessments that have no bearing on my life or future career goels. I really get disheartened in courses where I seem to have to do the same things over and over again.
I find some courses think because the nominal hours for a unit is 50 that I need to spend 50 hours doing readings and activities. Often very little thought has gone into these programs. They don't seem to have even considered that I might know something about the unit or that I might have experience in this area through my life, work experience and that I would like draw on this and maybe submit it as evidence of competence.
I want to quickly determine my current skill level, determine what I need to know and then move towards this.
I don't want to be locked in to mandatory chat sessions or online web conferences unless the content is relevant and will assist me to complete the assessment tasks for the units or will draw on learning material in a way that the online course cannot.
Having said this I don't like feeling like I am in some big dark hole and no one else is there. That presents a challenge. I want a sense of community but I don't want to be locked into meetings and chat sessions that are unproductive or at an unsuitable time.
I am really hands on. I look for tangible information, clear and concise instructions, a few bells and whistles to entertain me (but not many) and the quickest shortest path to completing a unit if I am already certain I know and understand the content.
Where sessions are held in chat rooms and web conferences I would like them recorded and made available so that I can cover anything I have missed or listen to them again to cover important information.
If all of this is in place then I generally enjoy the online learning environment.
Use this post to highlight your learning likes and dislikes. Do you agree with my comments or am I difficult student?
I think if we as educators are all honest about our learning preferences it will help us to better develop courses that will engage our learners and provide them with a pathway to completion that is relevant to their circumstances.