When we consider successful qualities of online education, we find that they are not all that different to the traditional classroom. Like all classroom activities they must be well designed and challenging, so they engage the learner. I believe that there are three critical areas in any successful online learning environment: clear communication, engaging content, and time.
In order for students to be successful in any learning environment, they must have timely feedback. This not only promotes learning but encourages students, giving them a sense of ownership in their learning.
Like the traditional classroom, concepts must be clear and organized and students must be engaged in their learning. In fact, the online environment requires more organization and clarity. Easy navigation and consistent organization are critical to assist students in remaining engaged and motivated. Once a student is lost or confused, the attitude of the learner changes and the learning stops. Thought provoking questions and links to consider or review in answering these questions can promote excellent learning opportunities, as well as providing students with various points of view on topics.
Students must be provided appropriate time to complete their work and work with other students. Students must be allowed to pace themselves to best meet their individual needs. Self-paced learning with good communication from the teacher to keep students focused is what can make online learning so successful. Communication with other students in an online environment must also be timely and easy. This will facilitate learning between all members and for the individual learner.
To create any successful learning environment I believe you must have clear and timely communication, engaging activities that are clear and organized, and time for the learner to complete activities that best suit their needs.