The University of Newcastle, Australia

Studying Online

Our experienced academic practitioners design courses and continue to refine teaching methods around flexible learning. We are committed to providing students with a variety of learning options, meaning you may have the opportunity to complete courses entirely online.  Below are some helpful tips on how to get the most out of online study.

Studying online through UON means that you will do the same coursework as students studying on-campus but you'll study where you want and you'll have a greater flexibility with your time.

Instead of travelling to campus, you simply need to access and engage with your learning online through UONline. Studying online requires a different approach to learning, as you need to communicate with your peers and teachers online. You will use a variety of online technologies such as email, discussion boards, blogs, and so on. You will have access to download course materials, watch or listen to recorded lectures and upload assignments all online.

While most online courses have no face to face attendance requirements, some courses may involve coming to campus for a residential workshop. Please make sure you review the requirements for each course in your program.

Studying online means that you will have access to:

  • 24/7 access to interactive online learning.
  • Tutors experienced in online delivery.
  • A wealth of online library resources through the University's Newcat+ library catalogue.
  • Access to library services, counselling, careers assistance, IT services and more.
 

Expectations

Good time management is one of the major factors to success at uni, and it is a skill that you'll find useful throughout your life. A good life balance is one which allows for enough time for study, sleep, family, work and extracurricular activities. This can be very difficult to achieve, however having flexibility in your normal routines can assist in maintaining a healthier balance. This means allowing time for study, social and other non-academic activities, and not letting the small changes to routine stress you out.

The time allocated to each aspect of your life will be different depending on your circumstances. Every student's life balance is unique. You may find that you need more work time; your friend may need more family time. Do not compare yourself to other students – focus on your own life and learning for success.

Be realistic

Be realistic about how much you can and can't do. Remember, for each 10 unit course that you are enrolled in, it is recommended that you allocate approximately 10 hours of study each week to successfully complete the course. Some of this time will be listening to lectures or participating in online discussions or tutorials. Further time should be dedicated to self-directed study, which is the time you spend at home studying. Be kind to yourself, realise that you're not superhuman and ask for help from your family and friends when you are overwhelmed.

Online courses offer the flexibility to access course materials at a time that suits you. However, you will still have set due dates for assignments, and will need to access the online learning environment on a weekly basis.

Prioritise

Prioritising tasks, whether it be uni or extracurricular, can help minimise stress and ensure that important activities are completed in a reasonable time. If you don't prioritise, you will be left feeling overwhelmed by the ever growing list of things to action throughout the term. Start by making a to-do list and prioritising all tasks on the list as you go (high, medium or low). Set yourself a guideline in hours, how long it will take, and the date by which it needs to be completed.

When completing your tasks, focus on one thing at a time. If you are studying, don't spend your time thinking about the washing and cooking that has to be completed at the end of it. If you are spending time with your family and/or friends, don't spend your time thinking about your upcoming assignments. This will help you to actually enjoy your learning experience and minimise stress.

Relax

Take the time to relax when you are feeling stressed and overwhelmed! Our Student Care and Equity Unit can assist with strategies to help you cope with different issues, or to simply learn some useful new skills

If you are feeling overwhelmed, take some time for yourself. Talk to a Lecturer, Counsellor, or even make an appointment to speak with a Student Advisor. There is always someone to help!


Engaging with learning

At UON, you are in control of your own learning and developing effective study skills and strategies is an essential part of doing well at your studies. These skills may include managing your time effectively, note taking, planning assessments, revision, exam preparation, and so on. Gaining and developing these skills is itself a process that will take time and commitment.

The Learning development site can provide an invaluable resource to understanding and improving your learning. Look up the resources section for tips and tricks to assist with your learning experience.

Engaging with your learning is the best way to improve your academic performance. Be prepared to actively participate in the sharing of ideas. You will get so much more out of your studies.

There are so many ways to improve your revision and study. Why not look at your study and revision schedule and experiment. Do you study better with a computer or with a notepad? Are you able to sit down and study for three hours or thirty minutes? Finding your own study niche will help you to plan your study time for future weeks and terms.

Other students can also be a great source of information and support. Take advantage of opportunities to share ideas and information with other students through online discussions on UONline (Blackboard), talk to other students as often as you can via email, or Skype. Friendships with other students can prove very valuable and may provide you with an additional level of support during your time at uni.


Student conduct

Every student, on enrolling with UON, agrees to adhere to University regulations. The student expectations are:

  1. Participate and engage in all courses in which you are enrolled.
  2. Take responsibility for your learning and accessing additional help.
  3. Read prescribed materials and submit assessments when due.
  4. Act ethically and honestly in the preparation and submission of all assessment items.
  5. Consult the program convenor or course coordinator early if you're having difficulties with a course, assessment, etc.
  6. Respond promptly to requests for information, usually within three working days.
  7. Provide honest and constructive feedback on programs and courses.
  8. Access your UON email account and UoNline (both via myUoN).
  9. Recognise academic staff have multiple roles including teaching, research and administration.
  10. Treat other students and all staff respectfully.

See further details on UON's Code of Conduct.

Welcome to your first term at uni! Below we've put together a guide for you to help you navigate your first four weeks.

Week 1

  • Check your enrolment in myHub.
  • Get familiar with UONline (Blackboard) as this will be the place where most of your course information is provided, and where you will submit assignments and complete quizzes, etc. Your Blackboard courses will be made available on the first day of term.
  • Access your course outlines in UoNline(Blackboard). These will explain how and when you can contact your course coordinators and tutors, as well as clarify the requirements of each course you are enrolled in, what textbooks or other course materials you may need, and when your assessments are due.
  • Set your goals for the term, and develop a plan for successful term.
  • Check your email and UONline (Blackboard) on a regular basis. This is how UON will communicate with you and where you will find up-to-date information and announcements about your courses.
  • Take a look at the range of scholarships available to you. You never know what you might be eligible for!
  • Review the important dates which relate to your studies.

Week 2

  • Familiarise yourself with the study skills tips on the Learning Development website.
  • Currently studying but not sure how to tackle your assignments? Get up to speed with Academic Survival Skills online.
  • Create a study schedule for the term based upon the due dates for assessments detailed in your course outlines. It's important to plan ahead!
  • Visit the Current Students page for an overview of the services and support available to you.
  • Complete the University Academic Integrity Module.
  • Connect with your fellow students by joining in on the discussion boards in Blackboard, a University Facebook group, or by following us on Twitter. Here you can get regular updates on what's happening with Postgraduate Study and UON. You can also start to build your professional network through Linkedin connections
  • Get in touch with The Newcastle University Postgraduate Students Association (NUPSA).
  • Download and install EndNote. This tool allows you to create and organise your references into your own personal citation database. You can keep a record of all the journal articles, books, conference papers, and other documents you use during your study or research, in one place.

Week 3

  • By this week, you might be preparing to submit your first assessment/s. Work on your research and referencing skills by getting acquainted with the library's online guides.
  • Explore the Careers Service. You can seek career planning assistance, or take a look at the work opportunities (casual, part time, internships, etc) available through CareerHub. Remember, you can make an appointment to speak to a Careers Counsellor over the phone or via Skype.

Week 4

  • Now that you've had a few weeks to get settled in, you probably have a better idea of the kind of time you need to commit to each of your courses and assessments. Consider making a plan at the beginning of each week that takes in to account all of your commitments (study, work, family, leisure etc) and the time commitment and importance of each, so that you can have a clear idea on how to manage your time on a day-to-day basis.
  • Ensure you have a healthy balance between study and leisure. It's important to take a break!
  • Did you know that the UON Counselling Service have an online instant messenger service available through Blackboard? For information about how to use this service, watch this video.
  • Consider your study load. Are you coping OK with the number of units you are enrolled in? Assess your study/work/life balance and keep in mind that the census date is coming up. The census date is the last day you can drop a course through myHub without financial penalties. Before making any changes to your enrolment, have a chat to your Program Convenor, Student Advisor, the Careers service, or the Counselling service to discuss your options.

Online programs and courses are delivered via our virtual learning environment, UONline.  UONline provides access to a suite of online teaching and learning technologies including our online learning management system 'Blackboard', collaboration tools and UONCapture.

Your computer will become your virtual and collaborative classroom and via UONline you will be able to interact and engage with teaching staff as well as your fellow students.

The Blackboard courses include a variety of communication tools including:

  • Announcements – teaching staff are able to alert you to important information as a student by posting announcements
  • Online collaboration – when you are online you are able to chat in real time with fellow class mates
  • Discussion board – both yourself and the teaching staff are able to create different discussion threads and reply to each other's posts in your own time
  • Mail – you are able to send mail to fellow students and your teaching staff within the Blackboard sites

You will also be able to access content in your courses including:

  • Course outlines, readings and other relevant learning material
  • Assessments – you can access online quizzes and exams
  • Assignments – you can easily submit assignments online
  • MyGrades – you can view your assignment feedback and grades
  • Media– you can access videos and other interactive media

There's also an app available for Blackboard which will provide you with free access to your courses.

During your studies you will be expected to utilise a number of other online resources and systems. You will receive constant communication through all systems.

myUON gives you access to all the online systems you need to use while at uni. Some of these systems include UONline (including Blackboard), your student email (NUmail) and myHub where you will go to enrol in your courses each term. You should log into myUON with your student number and password and become familiar with the system before you start your studies.

 

Becoming familiar with the Library and the wide variety of resources it offers is essential. The Library website provides information on borrowing books, accessing journals in online databases and referencing. The library also provides a number of tutorials to assist you in accessing a range of online resources.