The holidays are over and it’s time to get my head back into the books. The art of being a student has changed quite remarkably since I began my first university course way back in the 80’s.
In those days …
- We lined up for hours to enrol in subjects only to discover, when we finally got to the desk, that all the best tutorial times were already taken
- We waited in the sun, wind and rain for the bus to arrive to take us into the city and back home again
- We huddled in freezing lecture theatres, writing madly as the lecturer droned on and on and on
- We spent hours in the library thumbing through the card catalogue, paging through the journal indexes, lugging journal volumes the size of a brick to the photocopier which needed to be fed with numerous coins in order to produce a blurry take-home copy
- We stood nervously in front of the tutorial class, stammering through those dreaded oral presentations, only to be flummoxed by a tricky question
- We wrote our assignments by hand, on real paper, and pushed them under the lecturer’s door, just in the nick of time
- We groped our way through the heavy cloud of smoke that filled the cafeteria just to grab a cup of the student’s best friend – coffee!
- I complete my enrolment with just a few clicks
- I study from the comfort of my own home
- I listen to recorded lectures at my desk, pausing the lecturer midstream to jot down a brief note on the powerpoint slides I have already downloaded, printed out and skimmed beforehand
- I peruse the online library catalogue, download journal articles and read online books without having to leave home, though I still do borrow some real books from the library – not everything is online
- I work through the readings and coursework independently and complete the tutorial activities in the online student forums
- I type up my assignments in Word and submit them electronically, just in the nick of time – some things never change!
- I no longer need to hold my breath if I happen to visit the cafeteria – coffee is still a student’s best friend
The Advantages of Studying Online
You might think that studying from home can get a bit lonely. Some people prefer to learn in a more social environment so studying online is probably not for them. However, for me, it means I can organise my study schedule around family commitments and listen to lectures when it’s convenient for me. I still get to know other students – just in a different way. We may never meet face to face, but we get to know each other in the online forums. After a while, you start to see familiar names popping up again and again in classes. At USQ, most of the students are studying online. It’s not uncommon at all for most of the students in my classes to also be studying online from anywhere in Australia and across the world. They bring a variety of perspectives and life experiences to the online classroom and enrich the learning of us all.