It’s easy to think that online studying is simply ‘too isolating’ or ‘too difficult’ to bother with. Studying is such a monumental task – one that already requires superhuman willpower and motivation – so surely abolishing class attendance and the need to change out of your pyjamas is going to make it harder to study, not easier!
The thing to remember is this: not all online education is created equal.
With over 50 years’ experience teaching students online and via distance education, online study is an integral part of Charles Sturt University’s DNA. We take a look at how Australia’s most experienced online university educator is breaking down the barriers to online study, and encouraging people to “think again” when it comes to pursuing their career potential.
If any of these excuses sound familiar, maybe it’s time for you to think again.
A full-time job, a family, a mortgage, and the doctor’s orders to hit the gym more regularly. There simply aren’t enough hours in the day! How could you possibly find the time to squeeze in studying? The answer is simple: get flexible.
Online study is all about giving you the freedom and flexibility to fit study around your life, not the other way around. With CSU Online, you can study at the pace you want. Courses can be fast-tracked or studied part-time – you can even complete one unit at a time!
‘I wouldn’t have been able to complete my qualifications without distance education,’ says CSU Master of Education graduate, Liz Green.
‘CSU provided online distance education that perfectly fit with my lifestyle. It enables me to tailor the way I’m learning while also managing full-time work and my two children.’
Professor Barney Dalgarno, who is an expert in teaching approaches and e-learning environments, stresses the importance of considering both your lifestyle and learning style when it comes to online study.
‘Understan[d] how you want to learn, how you want to engage with the university and what support you’re looking for,’ says Professor Dalgarno, who is also the co-director of CSU’s uImagine Digital Learning Innovation Laboratory – a think tank for educational innovation.
It’s a sentiment that’s echoed by Green.
‘If I was to sit in a lecture theatre and be told what to learn, how to learn it and in the order I needed to learn it – it just doesn’t suit my needs.’
With CSU Online you have the flexibility to tailor your studies to suit your unique lifestyle needs, learning preferences and career aspirations. It’s flexibility at its best!
Meeting new people, making lifelong friends and being able to network with lecturers – that’s half of the appeal of university, isn’t it? So why would you forgo this to study online? It’s easy to perceive online study as a solitary and lonely venture, but this couldn’t be further from the truth at CSU.
CSU graduate Tony Haigh, who hadn’t studied in 15 years, remembers approaching online study with some trepidation.
‘Initially I was a bit wary of going back into higher education, but the Charles Sturt experience was fantastic. I felt that I was still connected to the other students; there was a lot of interaction online.’
With custom-built online platforms like CSU Social, there are spaces dedicated to helping you connect with fellow students to share your challenges and triumphs. Course-specific discussion boards are also available in the online learning space, allowing you to work with classmates and lecturers. It’s the sort of support that will see you through your studies, and help you achieve your career ambitions.
Haigh, who has since graduated from a Master of Arts (Terrorism, Safety and Security), says his degree ‘has opened up so many doors within the industry.’
It’s also led him to specialise in counter-terrorism awareness and training, where he is currently in the process of building his own investigations and security risk management firm.
Studying online can seem daunting, and there’s often the perception that it’s ‘too late’ or that you’re ‘too old’ to return to university. But 61-year-old Bachelor of Health Science graduate, Robyn McMillan, proves this simply isn’t the case.
‘If I can study at 61 and achieve, it goes to show you can be anything you want to be if you’re willing to put in the effort and do the hard yards.’
‘It was difficult at first to study online because I’d never had to use that side of technology before,’ McMillan admits. ‘But with the modern technology that is now available through Charles Sturt University, you study when you want to study, and the support is there to help you.’
Providing students with standout support is part of the CSU Online experience. Having worked with thousands of online and distance education students over the years, the university understands that support shouldn’t just be a safety net. With CSU it means constant guidance; access to support seven days a week – online or over the phone – or even in person with one of their student outreach teams.
Thanks to her qualification, McMillian is now an academic teaching Indigenous students. She says she’s embraced the transformative power of learning, and loves helping others discover it too.
‘Education is the key to us all having a better life.’
If these excuses sound all too familiar, perhaps it’s time for you to think again about studying online. Take a look at the 80+ online courses and units on offer through CSU!