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Online study offers many advantages but it also requires more thoughtful planning and self-discipline than conventional education
The flexibility that online study – such as that provided by TAFE NSW – offers has been a godsend to many people unable to undertake classroom-based, face-to-face learning. However, online study also has challenges that need to be dealt with wisely.
Human beings are social creatures, and online study can be isolating. Thankfully, in an age of Skype and Google Groups, it's never been easier to stay in contact with others who are in the same situation as you, even if they're thousands of kilometres away.
So if there isn't already an online study group organised for your course, set one up. While participating in an online discussion might feel strange or even pointless to start with, you can rest assured that you'll benefit from brainstorming with and drawing on the expertise of your fellow students.
Also, get the most out of your Skype or telephone catch-ups with your teacher by being up to date with your coursework and having some questions prepared.
Stay on top of the administrative stuff
Take the time to get a handle on everything you need to know – when the course starts, when it finishes, when assignments are due and what your final mark will be assessed on. It's also a good idea to carefully read the course description, course objectives and course requirements.
Stay well informed
While your online study group will hopefully partly make up for it, the reality is you're probably not going to be exposed to as many different perspectives as you would being part of classroom discussions involving other students and a teacher. That makes it all the more important that you do all the required reading plus, if possible, a little extra to get a rich understanding of the subject matter.
It can be tempting to put online study on the backburner, especially if unexpected demands arise due to work or family commitments. Plan for success by blocking out periods of time to study and, barring genuine emergencies, sticking to the schedule you have devised.