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Online learning aims to complement not replace traditional teaching via lectures, tutorials and printed materials to optimise learning. It can enhance the learning experience of off-campus students, as well as on-campus students.
Learning is most effective when you play an active part. Delivering units online creates an opportunity for you to learn in a variety of ways, for example through simulations, or making multiple attempts at quizzes. Being able to attempt tasks multiple times without the constraints of time or the hindrance of others around, enables you to learn from trial and error. It gives you more control over your learning. Online communication also helps you develop your ideas and enables you to contact your lecturer or other students if you have a problem, query, or wish to take part in a discussion.
Online learning puts you in control of the timing of your participation in the unit. It gives you the flexibility to study from home or work, at any hour or day that suits you. You can access your online units 24 hours a day and as frequently as desired (within internet access constraints). This can be of particular benefit if you work full time and cannot attend classes in regular hours. It also enables you, if you are geographically isolated from the University campus, not only to study the unit material but also to participate in asynchronous discussions and study groups through online communication. In some units you can submit your assessments electronically as soon as you complete them.
Online learning provides you with hands-on experience of online technology to better prepare you for employment in a world increasingly using information technology.
Like any classroom, online learning areas vary in their characteristics depending upon the teaching staff, the course, the unit and, of course, the students participating.
Depending on how your lecturers have designed the unit, an online learning environment allows you to:
Much of the communication online occurs over a period of time (asynchronously) through the build up of messages from participants who connect at various times of the day according to their commitments. The fact that you do not have to be online at the same time as other people helps create 'communities of learning' which can include people in different time-zones across the country and around the world.
Some units also have facilities that allow students to 'chat' among themselves and with teaching staff. This is real-time (synchronous) communication and you need to be connected to the Internet at the same time to participate.
The amount of time that you are required to spend online will vary from unit to unit. Some units have an intensive online component; other units do not. It depends on the type of unit and how learning is best facilitated. Teaching staff will usually outline the extent of online involvement expected of you.
You can participate in your online learning environment at any time that suits you, as the service is generally available 24 hours a day within the teaching period. However, while you are expected to participate regularly, you are not always required to be online at specific times.
Studying online will present a new learning experience for many students. It is a different way of learning and communicating with staff and students. Successful learning in the online environment requires the development of new learning skills, which will stand you in good stead through life.
Good self-motivation is essential for effective online learning. You can access the unit material and send messages to staff and other students at any time and for some students there will be no lectures or tutorials to attend. It is therefore essential that you develop a study routine. With a flexible online study routine, you can plan your study time around anyone else who may use the computer, your leisure activities, family commitments and any other study commitments.
For successful online learning, it is recommended that you:
The times that you study may also depend on your Internet Service Provider (ISP). You may find that some times of the day the download times are slower than usual if your ISP has many people online at that time. You may also have to consider the time you spend online if you have limited hours of access. There are steps you can take to minimise your time online such as downloading messages or files and reading them when offline.
Many of you will choose to study online from your home computer. Due to the potential for many distractions in the home, it is important that you create a space free of distractions for your learning to take place. For example, it is best not to have your computer in the same room as the television or stereo and it should be somewhere where you will not be interrupted by others. For details of the recommended set-up of your work area see 'Working safely at your computer'.
For more information on learning online see CloudDeakin support and resources.
The Deakin Student Charter states that it is the right of students 'to be treated with respect and courtesy by University staff and other students in an environment free from harassment and discrimination according to state and federal legislation and University policy' and that it is the responsibility of students to treat staff and other students in a similar way. You can find the Student Charter on the University's website.
When using CloudDeakin you are part of the Deakin learning environment so it is important to abide by appropriate codes of behaviour. The online environment is great for 'networking' and getting to know one another, but obviously the rules of common courtesy or 'netiquette' apply here as they do in any classroom or public area. Observing them makes for a pleasant and rewarding learning environment. CloudDeakin is a learning platform, hence inappropriate activity will not be tolerated by your lecturers and may result in you being denied future access. You are encouraged to report abusive behaviour online.
Communication in this type of online forum is very new. There are, however, well-developed rules of netiquette. You can find one set of guidelines at http://www.albion.com/netiquette/corerules.html. Particularly relevant are Rules 1 and 7: 'Remember the human' and 'Help keep flame wars under control'.
Vigorous debate about issues is a hallmark of university life and is encouraged. Making derogatory personal comments about or to people with whom we disagree, is not. This is a particular concern in online environments where the person to whom the comments are directed does not have visual and other non-verbal cues that might soften the impact or suggest a tone of friendly banter. Bear in mind that your comments are public, that they may remain on view long after they are made and that they may discourage participation in the discussion by people who are put off by abuse.