The SRO Team: 5 common questions about online study

If you’re starting your online study journey, it’s normal to have a list of questions about what to do, where to go for help, and what to expect from studying online. As Student Relationship Officers (or SROs) we’re used to helping students find their way and succeed at university, which is why we wanted to share some of the most common questions we get asked about online study.

1. What’s the difference between on-campus, external and online study? 

Online or distance study means that you can access all your study materials online through your UConnect student portal and you don’t need to come on-campus to classes. There are set dates throughout the Semester that you need to submit assessment by and you do still sit exams. You can always come and use the resources on-campus if you’re close by (we’ve even made a helpful guide for online students experiencing campus for the first time).

External study means that your materials are available online, but that you’ll need to attend in-person classes at some stage during the course. These intensive on-campus experiences are in the form of Residential Schools or workshops and are held several times throughout the academic year. These are required as part of your assessment, and it’s also your opportunity to connect with your peers, meet your lecturers, and put the theory and concepts you’ve been learning online into practice. 

On-campus students attend lectures, tutorials and/or workshops at one of USQ’s three campuses (Toowoomba, Springfield, or Ipswich) as well as accessing their online course materials.
Each study mode has its own benefits and challenges, but the most important thing to understand is that the same amount of work is required regardless of which mode or mix you choose. You can choose a mix of on-campus and online enrolment.

2. Will I complete my exams online too? 

This is a common assumption about online study, but is not the case. To make sure all students complete their exams under fair, equal and controlled conditions, USQ operates over 130 exam centres across Australia (and even more around the world) each semester. It’s USQ policy that a student living within 100km of an exam centre must sit their exam in-person.

In saying that though, you do have some flexibility around which centre you attend. For example, if you’ll be travelling for work during exam block, you have the option to change your exam centre to be suitable to your location. It’s your responsibility to check your allocated exam centre and make any changes (if necessary) at least four weeks before the beginning of the exam period. If you have any questions about where or how to sit your exams, contact the SRO team as early as possible.

3. What resources or technology do I need to be a successful online student? 

First and foremost, all online students need access to a computer with internet connection. Depending on your course requirements, you may also need additional software or materials which will be outlined in your course overview. To help you get set for success as an online student, USQ provides information about recommended hardware and software as well as access to student deals on technology, such as free download of Office365 Student Advantage

As an online student it’s important to understand that issues with technology are not accepted as a reason for submitting late or incomplete assessment. Future-proof your study by always saving your work in multiple places, keeping your software updated and having a back-up plan should your tech devices fail (such as using a library, internet café or friend’s computer).

4. Will I still have to do group assignments if I study online? 

No matter what your study mode, if your course includes group assessments you’ll be required to participate. While collaborating across different states, time zones and even countries can be challenging, it’s also a great opportunity to embrace technology (such as Google+) and develop your communication skills. Plus, we’ve got plenty of advice to help you get the most out of group work!

5. Is there support available for me as an online student? 

At USQ, over 75% of students study online, so you can be assured that there is plenty of help available and that we’re experienced in supporting online students to succeed. The USQ Library offers access to both print and digital materials as well as a range of free services specifically for online students. USQ also provides support for student health, wellbeing, and career development, as well as services that ensure equity and support diversity in our student community.

Don’t forget that the SRO team are just a phone call, email or live chat away. We’ve got a wealth of knowledge about the USQ student experience, policies and processes and there’s no such thing as a silly question. If we can’t help you ourselves, we’ll put you in touch with the specific teams or people at USQ who can support you.

It’s normal to have questions about what to do and what to expect as an online student, but you don’t have to figure it out on your own. Contact us, your friendly SRO team, explore the USQ website or check out the advice and tips on Social Hub for even more support to help you succeed as an online student. The online study mythbusters series is a great place to start!