Luisa Foliaki says her three children have been raised sitting on her lap while she studies online.
“They’ve had the ‘Shhh, I’m on a meeting’ so many times. All parents have been there,” Luisa laughs.
“I’ve had lecturers who have had to bolt off because you can hear a toddler crashing around in the background.
“People think technology means you don’t get that human interaction, but you do. You just get different interactions.”
Luisa is a communications student who studies online from her home in Newcastle. She decided to study when her eldest son started primary school.
“I was working in office jobs and I was thinking ‘I want to do more than this’, and ‘How am I going to motivate him to do well at school if he doesn’t have someone to look up to?’
“So I decided to further my education.”
On top of working, studying and parenting, Luisa is on the Student Senate, the Online Student Representative Council, and is a Senior Mentor for her course.
She is enthusiastic about helping other online students overcome feelings of isolation, and to find their place at Charles Sturt.
Luisa’s advice for those studying online is to keep in contact with your lecturers, and to reach out to other students. She says a good starting point for online students is joining SRC-endorsed groups like The Social Club, which hosts game nights, trivia and conversations. Luisa also recommends getting active on Charles Sturt social media channels.
“[Online students] can feel very isolated, and they’re not talking to people about it because people around them aren’t studying online.
“If someone writes in one of the groups that they have a problem and I say, ‘That happened to me too’. Then all of a sudden 100 people have the same problem.
“I find that people just need the conversation to get started.
“Online is just a bit of technology in between us, but there’s still people at the other end.”
Luisa says many of the people who she connected with through online clubs over the years have gone on to serve on SRCs.
“They were all really shy and quiet when they started but now they’re student leaders.
“I’m yet to speak to a student who I don’t find interesting and doesn’t motivate me.
“I think that’s the mistake people make. They think ‘I’m not interesting’ or ‘I don’t have anything to offer’, but that’s just not the case.”