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On Campus vs Online: Tips for your First Online Subject

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The days of lectures not being recorded and lectures slides being presented with overhead projectors are fortunately long gone. At most universities you can now choose from face to face teaching, online learning, or a combination of both, meaning that you can fit your studies around your other commitments.

If you’re taking an online subject for the first time this semester, you can expect to soon be very well acquainted with a learning management system like Wattle or Moodle – lecturers will provide readings, lectures slides, lecture recordings and an online discussion forum through this learning system. Many subject coordinators are putting up shorter video lectures, providing ‘quick’ 18-minute pre-recorded seminars to ensure that online students are actually engaging with the online material.

Some subjects are also using social media to share course updates, engage with students and share information and articles relevant to the unit. This also ensures that students who are normally too shy to talk ‘get their voice heard’ and in the case of Twitter, it also teaches you to be clear and concise.

While online learning means that you don’t physically attend tutorials, you may be required to attend an online tutorial through Blackboard Collaborate or Adobe Connect. If this is the case, you can expect to be speaking in class and answering the tutor’s questions, just like an on-campus seminar.

Some universities are even examining students online, many with software that shuts down all programs on your computer except for the exam!

So, how do you get the most out of your online course?

You need to ensure that you use the material provided by your lecturer – be it readings, online conferencing, social media or online forums. The lecturer is attempting to provide all the information for you online since you may not be able to come to campus.

Studying online means that you need to manage your time carefully. There is often a participation mark linked to your final grade, so you won’t be able to leave it to the last week of semester to post lots of comments to the forum. Plus participating throughout the semester equals better learning and a better grade overall. Remember, even if you are studying online, you are paying for a semester of uni and you need to ensure that you get the most out of your semester.

Engage with your online classmates by using the discussion forum or set up your own Facebook group to chat about the subject – just because you aren’t at uni does not mean you can’t have a study group.

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