If there is one thing I have really appreciated about having near ubiquitous access to the web around Australia, and to an extent overseas, it has been the ability to further my tertiary education whilst holding down full-time employment.
I resumed my tertiary studies just before moving to Sydney a bit over eight years ago while still in Melbourne. I had attempted undergraduate study on campus at Monash University at Clayton but it just didn’t work for me. I found sitting in lectures far from engaging and with lectures that were first cab off the rank in the mornings trying to stay awake was a challenge. I didn’t fancy the thought of trudging out to a university campus for a an evening lecture (if it was even on offer) after a long day at work.
In a nutshell, distance education seemed to be a more viable alternative in that I could break down study to fit around my professional and personal commitments as well as my study style. To that end, I eventually ended up enrolling with the University of New South Wales at the Australian Defence Force Academy (or UNSW@ADFA for short) located in Canberra kicking off with a Graduate Certificate of Science in Information Technology after using my work experience to meet the entrance criteria..Despite what you may think, this particular university campus offers university study for civilians in addition to defence force personnel even though it university buildings are co-located with military facilities.
Being able to study remotely and electronically interact with other students as well as course lecturers online has been incredibly handy. While studying on campus does provide the advantage of face-to-face communications you do have to tee up a time to allow that to happen which can be a challenge if schedules don’t marry up, Posting on the course forums has been a great way to get questions in front of the eyeballs of other students as well as the lecturers and receive notification when there has been a response. Plus, digital submission and marking of deliverables has been incredibly convenient as I have never been a big fan of sending things via snail mail – it’s… just… so… slowwwwww.
Not everything has been eletronic though. There has still been the need for textbooks for reference throughout each course and there was one exam that required physical me to physically attend the Kensington campus in order to sit it. However, the vast majority of the program and the management of the program has been available online which will be right up your alley if doing things electronically is your preference.
That said, studying online can and will require you to be more disciplined with your time management and your attention. It’s so easy to be distracted by something on the television, Facebook, Twitter, funny YouTube videos, phone calls, random visitors, social events, etc. You’ve really got to keep on top of things and, if necessary, block out all of those potential diversions if they are chewing up your time. You’ll always have time to give attention to all of those other things once you’ve gotten your academic responsibilities in order. I have faced challenges with interstate and international holidays taking place during semesters but those can often be good opportunities to really disconnect yourself from the daily grind and directing your focus on study to keep the ball rolling.
Being able to finally walk away with a Masters of Science in Information Technology will certainly be satisfying to say the least but I have not ruled out doing additional studies in the future. As to what form that takes is yet to be decided but my positive experience with online studies will certainly have me looking at that being the preferred mode of delivery.