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How to succeed as an online student

Student holding an iPad
At ECU you can study degrees, diplomas and certificates online.

Online study is an increasingly popular option for students. At ECU, around 25 per cent opt to undertake their courses online.

It may be because they have existing family or work commitments or live in a location where it’s not practical to travel to campus. Or they may be seeking to advance their career without leaving the workplace.

Follow these tips to give yourself the best chance of succeeding in your online studies.

Get the support you need

As an online student at ECU you’ll have access to Blackboard, which provides unit outlines, discussion boards, wikis and blogs. For an increasing number of courses, you can also access lecture recordings.

ECU Senior Career Adviser Gina Susca says there will always be a demand for this type of study.

“It’s so convenient, all your materials and resources are available online 24/7. There’s no need to worry about commuting and sticking to a strict timetable and of course and you have a stream of support from tutors and lectures via phone and email,” she explains.

Motivation is key

In order to succeed as an online student, you need to be motivated and stay focussed throughout.

“I advise people to have some sort of structure in place. Study when you don’t have any interruptions, maybe when your children are at school or in the evening or when your partner’s home and can cook the meal and do bedtime for the children,” Ms Susca says.

It’s common knowledge that we all have our own body clocks and are more productive at certain times.

You may be better at online study first thing in the morning or in the evening. The import point is to recognise the time that works best for you.

Students studying outdoors
A study buddy or study group can be beneficial for online students.

Get a ‘study buddy’

We work better if we have the support of others around us. It can be beneficial if you can find a ’study buddy’ in the same course who can help you stay on track.

It can help to talk through the subject matter and compare notes. They might also give you a different perspective and you can share experiences and resources.

“It’s good to bounce ideas off someone. I suggest joining study forums or a group so you can stay on track,” says Ms Susca.

“And yes, definitely have a close friend or study partner. But it’s got be two-way, you both help each other rather than one person doing all the work.”

Be focussed

When you study online focus on being an ‘active learner’ by really engaging your mind in what you are studying.

Write extra notes as you go along and think about ways you can apply concepts to different situations and soak up the information provided.

Avoid daydreaming and getting distracted by constantly ensuring your brain is digesting everything you’re learning.

Reward yourself

It’s always good to have your goal in sight. You may want to break your study down into sections and reward yourself once you’ve completed a certain part of it.

“Always think of your long-term future and the pride of getting that degree at the end,” explains Ms Susca.

“By breaking down your online study into chunks it will seem more manageable. Give yourself a treat when you finish a section of work such as going out for a meal.”

Learn more

Check out ECU’s online study webpage to learn about which courses are available to study online.


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