Online study a perfect fit for IT students

IT Student
© Stephen Coburn | Dreamstime.com

It’s 2012, and you’re looking to study an IT course. No wonder – from mobile apps to social media to cloud computing, IT plays a massive role in how we socialise, do business and organise our lives, and is one of the hottest and fastest growing industries around. And now you want to be in on the action!

For that you need an IT qualification. First you need to determine what course you want to study … and how. Are you someone who needs flexibility in your schedule? Are you already working full-time and need to fit your study around your work or other commitments?

The solution is obvious. Put your computer to good use and study a course online!

More than remotely interesting

Today people are working more remotely, shopping more remotely and communicating more remotely. And education is fast becoming the same.

Twenty-five year old Casey Farrell understands the benefits of remote study well. She’s almost finished a Bachelor of Technology (Computing Studies)  at RMIT through Open Universities Australia (OUA) – all done online. Living in a small town 40 km from the nearest university was enough impetus for her to consider completing her studies by distance.

‘I would have been spending a lot of time travelling to lectures or tutorials that might have been only an hour or two long’, says Casey. ‘There was no great need for me to be on campus’.

Already working in the IT field, Casey was keen to build a career while she studied. Choosing to complete her IT course with OUA meant that she held the reins when it came to deciding when and where to study – which meant she could still have a life.

‘Many people seem to pause their lives while they are at university’, she says. ‘However, I’m advancing my career, building a house, running a small business and studying at university level. During my study I’ve been able to work interstate, travel, and get married. Importantly for me, I’ve also been able to stay in Tasmania while studying with a Melbourne university with an international reputation in my field’.

Casey is already reaping career benefits from her study, especially because of its very practical approach. ‘The course structures the work in context with real-world applications, and I have already used a great deal of it in my work. The studies have already contributed significantly to my career achievements in the industry’, she says.

No boundaries with online study

For 56 year old Philip Watkins, it was the freedom and flexibility of online study, as well as the opportunity to study electives through OUA’s other university partners (such as Monash, Curtin and Macquarie University), that appealed.

‘[This] was important to me, and is a major advantage of studying with OUA’, says Philip. ‘It meant that I could tailor my degree to include units that I’m interested in and that will benefit me when seeking employment in the future’.

With over 25 years of experience in IT, Philip wanted to reskill as a teacher, but none of his qualifications made him eligible for a Diploma of Education.

For that, he needed the same IT qualification as Casey. But living in rural Victoria with a child still in school, he baulked at the prospect of a long commute to a uni campus. So he did what Casey did – enrolled in one of OUA’s online computer courses.

He says that having the freedom to arrange his own study times is both an advantage and a challenge.

‘Studying online does allow you to manage your time’, he says. ‘So that if something extracurricular comes up that needs to be attended to, you don’t miss your lecture as it is ready to view online when you have time’.

The challenge, he finds, lies in disciplining yourself to complete the study that needs to be done. And while he had doubts about his own capacity to achieve this in the absence of face-to-face contact with lecturers, the support of instructors and fellow students gave him strength and confidence.

Like Casey, bridging the geographical divide through web technology helped him feel like a part of the student community.

‘Getting to know new classmates from across the country and around the world in the online study community is always fun’, he says. ‘Some of their stories are really inspiring. A number of classmates have been involved in floods or fires or cyclones, but they still manage to get their work done!’

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