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:
Brookes, P. (2009), Tackling my home office [Image], Retrieved from https://flic.kr/p/7qYaMT Tankawho, (2007), Studying in a train [Image], Retrieved from https://flic.kr/p/JwpvE
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.
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.
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:
Ineedpublicity. (2008). Networking people [image]. Retrieved from https://flic.kr/p/4EPihZ
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.
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:
Check out the video below to explore some basic rules when communicating online.
Dold, J. (2013, Feb) Discussion board netiquette. [video file]. Retrieved from https://youtu.be/tVqWcrMPxfY
Emails are the life-line of online communications. This is where you will receive notifications from your facilitators around course content and changes to the program. 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.
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....
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.
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