Is Learning Anytime, Anywhere a Good Strategy for Success?: Identifying Successful Spatial-Temporal Patterns of On-the-Job and Full-Time Students

Document Type


Publication Date



Purpose – Online learning is well-known by its flexibility of learning anytime and anywhere. However, how behavioral patterns tied to learning anytime and anywhere influence learning outcomes are still unknown.

Design/methodology/approach – This study proposed concepts of time and location entropy to depict students’ spatial-temporal patterns. A total of 5,221 students with 1,797,677 logs, including 485 on-the-job students and 4,736 full-time students, were analyzed to depict their spatial-temporal learning patterns, including the relationships between identified patterns and students’ learning performance.

Findings – Analysis results indicate on-the-job students took more advantage of anytime, anywhere than full-time students. Students with a higher tendency for learning anytime and a lower level of learning anywhere were more likely to have better outcomes. Gender did not show consistent findings on students’ spatial-temporal patterns, but partial findings could be supported by evidence in neural science or by cultural and geographical differences.

Research limitations/implications – A more accurate approach for categorizing position and location might be considered. Some findings need more studies for further validation. Finally, future research can consider connections between other well-known performance predictors (such as financial situation, motivation, personality and major) and the type of learning patterns.

Practical implications – The findings gained from this study can help improve the understandings of students’ learning behavioral patterns and design as well as implement better online education programs.

Originality/value – This study proposed concepts of time and location entropy to identify successful spatial-temporal patterns of on-the-job and full-time students.