Everyone can be taught skills, but the manner and pace at which employees absorb knowledge is increasingly vital as corporate America turns to e-learning for training.

Excellent E-Learners: Who Excels at Online Learning?In fact, Thomas Friedman in The World Is Flat suggests that the capability to e-learn will become one of the most important assets for workers because job changes and innovation will happen faster in the future than ever before.

What characteristics define the employee who is likely to excel at e-learning? A study commissioned by the Ministry of Education in New Zealand sheds light on the kinds of character traits and habits that are reflected in successful e-learners.

The study, called E-Learner Profiles: Identifying Trends and Diversity in Student Needs, Orientations and Aspirations, took the first step in the process of looking at orientation and differences between groups of students.

They discovered that different groups of e-learners had different orientations. For example, some e-learners preferred listening or seeing graphs and charts or visuals in their course material as opposed to reading it. Some preferred to work alone instead of in groups.

The characteristics of the e-learner is also the subject of a free online test to help potential students determine if they possess the characteristics of successful e-learners. Created and offered by the University of North Carolina, the test can be accessed at: http://www.unc.edu/tlim/ser/.

Five characteristics of employees who excel at e-learning:

  1. Computer literate – The successful e-learner knows how to use his or her computer, how to access the Internet, send and receive e-mails, and use the word processing program. They can insert CDs into their computer and play them. Research skills are a real plus.
  2. Self-directed – The ability to work independently is a huge factor in successful e-learning. They may be able to work at their own pace and place, but with that flexibility comes responsibility. The work still has to be done regardless of the location.
  3. Efficient – E-learners need excellent time and energy management skills. Assignments have to be completed on time; work must be done regularly and not be allowed to pile up and interim goals need to be met. They need to be well organized to ensure courses can be handled simultaneously with their regular workload.
  4. Eloquent in written communication – E-learners must have the ability to communicate openly not just with their instructors, but also with their fellow online classmates. They must keep an open mind and share things about their life, work and educational experience. It helps that e-learners do not have to make up their answers immediately. With e-mail there is lots of time to think about the message you want to send and ensure it expresses your intentions.
  5. Committed – There is no shortcut to completing e-learning courses. The ideal student must accept the journey of learning and be able and willing to schedule in the hours needed each week to complete the work. Persistence and problem-solving are also essential.