Once upon a time, laptops, iPhones and emails didn’t exist. University students would attend lectures, tutorials and workshops to learn their course content, and if they didn’t, well they might not pass their exams. Nowadays, online study makes it easier for part-time workers or full-time parents to fit study into their lives. You know you’re an online student if you’re familiar with the following:
- Your tutorials are on at 8.30pm on a Sunday night.
Studying online means you can study anywhere, anytime. It also means collaborating with other students doing the same thing. At least 8.30pm on Sunday is better than 8.30am on Sunday, right?
- Your tutor’s email address is in your ‘favourites’ list.
Without attending face-to-face lectures or tutorials, asking questions or seeking advice has to be done electronically. Email is your best friend.
- You spend half an hour every day filing through your subjects’ ‘Discussions Board’.
Being an online student means you fit in study when it suits you, but the same applies for everyone else studying online. The Discussion Board is always full of ideas and questions marked ‘unread’. Tip – read these. They can spark new ideas, understandings, and ways of thinking.
- If technology fails, it’s the end of the world.
Okay, this might be an exaggeration, but for online students, everything from lecture slides to weekly topics are posted online. If your technology isn’t working, you can’t just attend a lecture face-to-face. Instead, you’re left with an excuse to come back to it later. And you don’t.
- Your classmates include a stay-at-home Mum, a marketing executive, a rehab worker and a policeman.
One of the best things about online study is the people you interact with and the skills and experiences that you learn from them.
- Juggling study, work and family is a balancing act.
While some may perceive online students as people who lie in bed, watching lectures and sipping hot chocolate (ugh, we wish), most of us have jobs, work commitments and hungry mouths to feed.
- You’re good at time-management.
Studying online means you run on your own time. That spare 45 minutes after work, or that half-hour lunch break are key study periods. Sometimes it’s not possible to sit down for 3 hours and knock over an entire module.
- Motivation is crucial.
Aside from the occasional email reminder that may end up in your junk mail, online students don’t have anyone to remind them that their business report is due tomorrow. Staying motivated is often the key to surviving online study.