Skip to Main Content


Tips for studying online

Online environment

What does an online environment look like?

When you consider the physical space of a face-to-face study program, your first few weeks are about learning which building houses which classrooms or lecture theatres, where the cafeteria is, and the office of your tutors. You too need to familiarise yourself with your online learning space. Within the first few weeks of this course, make sure you take the time to:

  • Find out how to contact your Course Coordinator and tutors
  • Familiarise yourself with the role of communicative activities. Make sure you introduce yourself to your fellow learners and take the time to get to know them.
  • Determine how the learning experience is set out - written information, audio information, and video information.
  • Understand the process of creating and submitting your assessment tasks
  • Explore the array of support resources available.
  • Identify early if there is an area that you are not comfortable or competent with, and actively seek to bring yourself up to speed. As adult learners, you are expected to be active in the learning experience, not passive.
  • As facilitators, we can anticipate common student needs and provide resources accordingly. However, if something is missing, please notify the Unit coordinator immediately so we can guide you in achieving the support you need.

Support resources:

Online Study Hub

  • Getting set up for study
  • Assignment and study help
  • Technology for assignments
  • Student support and services

Federation University Online


Studying online

What does your study area look like?

Brookes, P. (2009), Tackling my home office [Image], Retrieved from                                           Tankawho, (2007), Studying in a train [Image], Retrieved from

Consider where you are most likely to study: At home? On the way to work? At work? At the library? On the couch or the kitchen table?  Is it in the company of others, or by yourself? It may be one, some or all of these. Think about your environment and where you achieve your best learning.

Consider what you are studying with: This is an online course, so you will need an electronic device to access the learning materials. Are you using your own laptop? Or  maybe you plan to use your smart phone or iPad?  Or do you have an old PC that struggles with current updates? Or maybe you don't own an electronic device and plan to use the computers in the local library?  Whilst we endeavour to ensure that all our online materials are compatible with multiple internet servers and multiple devices, we cannot anticipate all needs. Think about your equipment needs and how regularly you can access them.

Learning online

How do you do you learn best?

For some participants, online learning may be common place. But for others, it may have been some time since you last studied, and the environment and process have changed considerably.  Your classroom in now a computer, researching books is done through databases instead of card catalogues, books can be borrowed or bought electronically, and the day, time and place you study can be anywhere you like.

The information you receive is via a computer, the research you conduct is via a computer, the conversations you have with your tutors and student peers are via a computer.  Your assessments are created and submitted via a computer and thus your ability to absorb, create and construct the application of knowledge and skill is via a computer.  For some, this creates flexibility in the way they learn, and for others they may find it limiting.  Consider each of these elements when planning your study timetable and processes.

Communicating online 1

How do we develop a learning community?

A significant part of studying is the ability for participants to share their learnings with each other to enhance the learning experience.  This is has traditionally been achieved via face-to-face time during lectures, tutorials, workshops, study groups and informal catch-ups.  So how do we achieve this in an online environment?

Communicative activities play a very important role in creating and supporting a community of learning. This can be done by the use of:

  • Discussion forums
  • Glossary activities
  • Wiki activities
  • Chat or Skype sessions
  • Virtual classrooms
  • Peer support tools

Ineedpublicity. (2008). Networking people [image]. Retrieved from

Therefore, participating in these activities is paramount for creating a supporting learning community for yourself, and your fellow students.  The communicative activities are designed to accompany and augment the materials in the self-study modules through discussion, debate and creation of knowledge .   Online communication involves ‘talking’ via contributing to each activity, and ‘listening’ to your peers through acknowledging and responding to their contributions.  Communicative activities are an opportunity to share your learning experience, and contribute to the learning of your peers. You need to engage regularly with the communicative activities to ensure that no-one feels like they are 'talking' to space.

Communicating online 2

What is netiquette?

Just as we have rules of engagement for face-to-face learning environments, so to do we have online etiquette, known as 'netiquette' for online learning environments. It is important to consider some differences when communicating online such as:

  • Reluctance to go first - it's never easy being the first person to post to a forum through fear of being wrong or judged. Applaud the courage of others for going first.
  • Fear of being misinterpreted - Due to the permanency of writing a post, many students think about their response more closely before posting through fear of being misinterpreted. When an online communication is asynchronous (ie: not 'live') there are lapses of time between posts, and if a misinterpretation does occur, you may not be able to immediately re-phrase. Be patient with your fellow learners and don't be too quick to judge or question the post of others.  We all make mistakes with our typing or choice of written word.
  • Dominating discussions - Just as someone can take over a face-to-face session, so to can someone dominate an online discussion. Remember to keep your discussions short and concise, and let everyone have an opportunity to have a say. Feel free to share useful websites and resources, but keep the 'essays' for your assessment tasks.

Check out the video below to explore some basic rules when communicating online.














Dold, J. (2013, Feb) Discussion board netiquette. [video file]. Retrieved from

Communicating online 3

Why are emails so important?

Emails are the life-line of online communications.  This is where you will receive notifications from your facilitators around unit content and changes to the course. It is where you will receive notifications of postings to discussion forums from your fellow learners.

At Federation University, all email communications are directed to student email accounts. If you do not regularly check your student email (ie: minimum of weekly) then it is recommended that you get your mail from this account redirected to your personal email, or one that you check regularly (preferably daily).

For instructions on how to redirect your student emails, click here.

Research online

How confident are you with electronic databases and accessing e-books?

The great thing about online learning is that instead of you heading off to the library to search for resources, the library now brings everything to you.  If you are not familiar with the electronic services of the Federation University Library, click on each of the images below to view a series of videos/websites to up-skill yourself in electronic research and writing skills.

Your library and the Federation Library can help you. Don't be shy about asking for help. Get Federation library books sent to your library! It's free. Click the link to find out how. QuickSearch can help you find lots of resources, fast.   eBooks you can access now. APA Referencing - lets get it right!. 

Let EndNote do your referencing for you.


Take the time to view this information and familiarise yourself with the services, resources and supports available to you from the Federation University Library. The time you spend now, could save you hours wasted later on....

Managing time online

How self motivated are you?

Online learning requires students to be proactive and self-motivated in their learning, and demonstrate strong time management skills. Face-to-face timetables have the advantage of making us prioritise attendance at class. However online study, whilst giving you the flexibility to do in your own time, can create a disadvantage in that it is easy to 'push aside' and 'do it later'.  It can be easy to fall behind in online study very quickly.

Previous online cohorts have developed the following list of strategies to assist you in managing your 'online time':

Short: Whilst it is important to plan for study time in your week, many of us try to simulate our face-to-face study habits and block out hours of time in our calendar to engage in our studies. However due to the lack of immediacy associated with physically being somewhere, this time is easily overtaken with work, family and life commitments.  Instead, consider undertaking smaller study chunks at opportune times.  Most modules are broken down into smaller units of 15-45 minutes in size, making it perfect to slip one in at lunch time, whilst you are awaiting appointments, picking kids up from sporting events, travelling, cooking dinner or before bed. Don't fall into the trap of having your weekend taken up with study because you couldn't find a block of time during the week.

Often: Quality learning is achieved when we engage often with a concept. Whilst some students may like to immerse themselves in a topic for hours on end, the majority of us find our minds wandering after 40 minutes. Thus why the modules are structured to allow for short, regular busts of intellect and motivation. This also encourages you to step away from the computer for a break regularly to maintain eye, neck, shoulder and back health...and not to mention mental wellbeing!

Keeping in touch: If you find yourself falling behind, contact your Course Coordinator immediately to explore your options. Don't let yourself get too far behind and find that it's too hard to catch up. Don't be afraid to ask for help or admit you are struggling.

Study environments: Try a number of different environments, times of day, days of week to find what works best for you. What worked for you at 20 years old, may be different to what your learning needs are today.

Progress Bar: We've included this semester a 'progress bar' for each module on the right hand column in Moodle. This allows you to visualise what you have completed, what you have left to do, and what you have outstanding.  We look forward to your feedback at the end of the semester in its usefulness or not.

Where to from here?

It is time to think about what all this means for you personally. Consider the gaps in your knowledge or skills and how you plan to address those

How do you plan to maximise your learning opportunities? Consider and plan for the following:
  • What gaps in your knowledge or skills can you identify and how do you plan to address these?
  • What tools do you have access to in order to engage with the online content and activities?
  • What times of the day or days of the week do you have available to devote to your studies?  Will it be blocking out hours of time, or grabbing smaller chucks at opportune times?
  • Do you have the electronic research skills to access the resources needed to support your study? If not, what are you planning to do about it?