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We spoke to Cloud Campus student Ricky Wright about his experience studying online at Deakin and got some great hints and tips about how you can set yourself up for success. Learn how he stays motivated, manages his time and collaborates online with other students.
Tell us about yourself.
I run my own travel website and I decided to go back to university to update my skills. As a dad who works from home, studying online seemed like the obvious choice. My time is split between being a dad, my studies and a few entrepreneurial projects. I’m studying a Bachelor of Communication (Digital Media) and I’m in my third year.
What is your biggest challenge as a Cloud Campus student?
Some of the challenges I face are staying motivated, creating a connection with other students and collaborating online. If you’ve missed information and you’re not sure where you can go to get support, you have to take responsibility and search out that information for yourself.
How do you stay motivated?
I like to always choose topics for my assessments that I’m internally motivated to complete. Even if that means I take a little longer to start, I try to really tap in to what makes me tick as an individual and what I care about in the topic, then tailor the assignment around those ideas. If I do that, I’m expanding my interests and my self-development. As much as possible within the course, I like what I’m doing to have meaning and to entwine with my values and goals.
I do a lot of extra research, like watching a stack of YouTube videos that feature the writers of the readings to see what ideas I connect with, then I read further into the different academics that I have a connection with.
How do you manage your time?
For me, it’s more about the quality of the time than the amount of time. I like to put some time aside to relax and nurture myself, to go for a walk and look after myself. Then when I go to do my studies I find I use that time more efficiently.
I use a Google calendar to plan my studies and use priority tasking to balance my studies with my own personal projects. It helps me stay focused on important tasks and complete them on time.
How do you handle group work online?
It varies between units. I usually make contact as early as possible and then choose a collaboration tool. There’s a lot of digital tools that I’ve used to collaborate. Zoom and MS Teams video chat are quite good for meetings, Trello is good for organising, and shared documents in SharePoint work really well.
It helps to agree on rules and guidelines for how the group will work together and to nominate someone to moderate each meeting. Sometimes we define each group member’s skills and then giving them roles within the project that suit those skills.
How do you connect with other students?
I live a long way from any other Deakin students, on the beach up in Queensland. I do like to keep in contact with some of the students I’ve studied with using a Twitter hashtag that’s used by a lot of Digital Media alumni. There’s also a Facebook group for Cloud Campus students that I’m a member of.
What Deakin resources do you use?
I like DeakinTALENT, it’s great for career development, and you should explore it early in your degree. DeakinTALENT has a job opportunities board and an internships board that you should check out. You can get your resume developed and then update it as you go through your degree and read a guide on setting up a LinkedIn profile. Get to know all the Deakin support that’s available to you, like study support and Student Central. I’ve also used the Deakin guide to referencing.
What other advice do you have for Cloud Campus students?
Stay kind to yourself. Pace yourself. Get started early. Get the most out of the experience and interact in discussion boards and try to make contact with other students outside of your units if you can.