The year 2020 has ushered in massive changes to our daily lives and a great deal of uncertainty for new students looking to start their journey in higher education. With universities across the world shifting to an online learning model, many students are wondering about the merit and quality of online courses and how this might affect their student experience.
We understand that for many of you, starting your degree online might not be what you were expecting, however sometimes it is difficult to separate fact from fiction when it comes to online study. We have rounded up a list of common online study myths and misconceptions to debunk and give you a clearer picture of what online university life will be like!
Hear from Deakin University students about their experience and some surprising discoveries they have made while studying online.
Myth #1: ‘Online learning is just watching Zoom lectures’
While this will certainly be a part of your virtual study experience, there is so much more to online learning. At Deakin, we understand how important it is to create an engaging learning environment for students. Depending on the course or unit you take, your online study experience could include livestreamed seminars, interactive workshops, active discussions with your lecturers and classmates and more.
Deakin is known for our emphasis on practical learning, so you may be wondering what this looks like in a digital setting. According to third-year student Jess Glasson, who is studying a Bachelor of Science, different units approach online practicals differently.
‘Some units conducted them live on Zoom while others created interactive videos, which were really helpful to refer back to and get a deep understanding of the content. If practicals were not live, the teaching staff also organised help sessions to assist with any questions.’
It is a common misconception that online classes consist of nothing more than watching Zoom lectures and recorded materials. However, there are also internship opportunities and Work-Integrated Learning (WIL) that can be done online. Work experience can make all the difference when you graduate and start to apply for jobs. Experience real-life workplace scenarios all while gaining credit towards your degree.
Myth #2: ‘You need to have advanced digital skills to take university lessons online’
Platforms for online learning are becoming more sophisticated and are designed to facilitate better student experiences. As with all popular apps and digital services in the last few years, accessible and intuitive user experience is a high priority for tech developers. This design thinking also applies to online education platforms, so no, you do not need to be a tech expert to study online!
As a pioneering provider of distance learning, Deakin has a unique understanding of students’ needs when learning from afar. The last thing we want is for our students to get distracted from their actual learning due to a poorly designed platform.
All students, whether you study online or on campus, will have access to DeakinSync: your personalised online student hub with everything you need at your fingertips. Log in to access your study units, discussion boards, manage your enrolment, take out library books and much more.
Ahan Kamdar recently finished his first year of Master of Public Health, where most of the course was done online due to a state-wide lockdown. He says, ‘I strongly feel Deakin’s highly advanced cloud infrastructure and the fact it already delivers many academic resources and services online made transitioning to online learning very easy. I always thought of myself as a technologically obsolete person, but online learning has completely changed that perception for me. It has made me so confident in using various technology and platforms.’
Myth #3: ‘I won’t be motivated if I study online’
It is true that when you are studying online you will have to get used to the comforts and distractions available in your home. As a result, online students require a higher degree of self-management and discipline to excel. Developing these skills while studying is a great bonus for students learning online and provides them with additional attractive attributes they can boast to future employers.
‘Studying in the online environment has definitely increased my employability,’ says Jess. ‘It helped to enhance my self-discipline and time management skills, which are highly desirable by employers.’
We understand that staying motivated and focused can sometimes be a challenge, so Deakin is offering more support than ever for students in need of motivation and inspiration. When you study online, you will have access to a large range of digital resources designed to support online students.
Stay motivated by connecting with others through the Cloud Campus Facebook group, peer mentor programs, 24-hour tutoring service or even the online discussion boards where you can share ideas and ask for advice.
Myth #4: ‘You will have no interaction with teachers or classmates’
Actually, quite the opposite! With online learning, there are increased support services and opportunities to interact with teaching staff and fellow classmates. Just like in a physical classroom setting where lecturers would have open office hours for students to drop in, you can easily contact your Deakin unit chair if you have any questions or concerns through email, Skype message or through your unit’s discussion board.
Recent graduate Kimberly Sya, who completed her final trimester of Bachelor of Commerce degree online, said, ‘My lecturers have been amazing! They had been extremely helpful and diligent in making online classes as smooth as possible. The seminars were more discussion-based to make the classes more interesting and I learnt a lot this way.’
One particular service that receives a lot of praise from Deakin students is the peer mentor program. If there is someone who truly understands what you are going through, it is another student who has experienced it.
For first-year Master of Business Analytics student Soora, the peer mentor program played a vital role in his initial weeks at Deakin, especially since he originally intended to study in Australia but COVID travel restrictions caused a change in plans. ‘The Peer Mentor program helped me settle in and provided me with that first stepping stone towards confidence and networking. My mentor was also a Business Analytics student, so he is someone I could relate to as he has gone through the same and his tangible advice went a long way.’
Myth #5: ‘You can’t make friends if you are taking online classes’
When you study online at Deakin, you do not have to give up your university social life. While currently all students are studying online due to COVID restrictions, the Deakin University Student Association (DUSA) facilitates virtual events and social gatherings to help new students get to know one another.
While you may feel nervous to strike up a conversation at first, it is important to remember that everyone is feeling the same way. Soora admits that this was one of his concerns when he first started, ‘I found it hard in the beginning but then I realised the importance of networking and the need to step up and initiate the first step.’ Step out of your comfort zone and you may inspire the next person to do the same!
With the advancement of technology and digital communities in the last decade, long gone are the days where meeting someone face-to-face is the only way to make a meaningful connection. Think of all the friendships that come from gaming communities, online art communities, social networking and more. Most of these friendships develop and thrive even though the individuals have never met physically.
‘Interestingly, I made even more connections with people while being online,’ says Jess, who mentioned that she was able to meet lots of other students from joining study groups, being a mentor and also just by participating in seminars.
Myth #6: ‘The quality of education from an online degree is lower’
Some people think that the standards for online courses are lower compared to in-class learning, but that is simply not the case. Online degrees from accredited education institutions go through a detailed process to review curriculum and ensure it is delivered in the most effective and engaging way.
Deakin has been perfecting distance learning for over 40 years, so online education is nothing new to us. Our courses are designed with industry input to provide students with the best online study experience.
When you start online studies at Deakin, you are getting the same world-class education, same recognised qualifications and same access to expert lecturers who are leaders in their field, with one unique benefit! According to Ahan, he says ‘There is one thing I absolutely love about studying online. It is the numerous guest lecturers and speakers that we had in our online classes which otherwise would not have been possible because of their busy schedules or location.’
Online learning opens up more opportunities!
Myth #7: ‘Studying online will not count towards post-study work rights’
One of the benefits of studying abroad in Australia is that after you graduate, you have the opportunity to apply for a post-study work visa to further your professional experience here. If you were worried that starting online classes in your home country will disrupt this process, then we have some reassuring news for you.
The Australian Government announced that online study undertaken outside Australia, as a result of COVID-19 travel restrictions, will count towards the Australian Study Requirement for existing and new student visa holders. This means if you hold a valid student visa while taking online classes, the Australian Government will recognise your studies towards eligibility for post-study work rights (PSWR). With a post study work rights visa, you may qualify to live and work in Australia for a least two years after the completion of your degree. Visit homeaffairs.gov.au/visas to learn more.
If you were holding off on starting online classes because of any of the above reasons, we hope this article has cleared up some misconceptions. We understand if you may still have questions, so make sure to get in touch with us.