The capacity to learn is a gift; the ability to learn is a skill; the willingness to learn is a choice.
There are many theories regarding learning and how the learner best engages and uses the new information learned. For me, several theories stand out. The theories that I find most relatable to my education include Cognitivism, Humanism and Problem-Based Learning.
According to Mastrian et al. (2010), cognitivism "focuses on mental processes that operate on stimuli presented to the perceptual and cognitive systems, and which usually contribute to whether or not a response is made" (p.78).
According to Edwords (as cited by Mastrian et al., 2010) "humanism is not a learning theory but rather a school of thought that humans are unique in capability, and different that other animals" (p. 79). The concept of differing capabilities is ever present in the process of online learning. Discussion boards display an array of strengths and weakness among peers. Furthermore, substantive discussions take place when each individual student expresses their unique and different view of concepts.
One of the five basic objectives of humanism is that of self-direction and independence (Mastrian et al, 2010, p. 79). I have found that these are two of the most crucial qualities to possess in order to successfully complete a college level course via distance/online learning.