Step 4 - Prior to classes

Get your student card

Your student card provides access to CDU facilities such as the library, after-hours computer labs, some discounts at the University Bookshop and other discounts where notified by the business.

      • Where can I obtain a student ID card?
        When your enrolment has been processed and confirmed, you are entitled to a student identification card (photo ID). This can be obtained at the Information Centre located on the ground floor in Building Orange 1, Casuarina campus, at the cashier, Building A at Palmerston campus or at the Information Centre, Building 1 at Alice Springs campus. You will be required to show photo identification (Australian driver licence or passport) before your card will be issued. External students can obtain a card by completing form GEN103 – Student Cards for External Students, which is also available from the Information Centre.

      • What is my student ID card used for?
        Your student card provides access to university facilities such as the library, after-hours computer labs, some discounts at the University Shop (Bookshop) and other discounts where notified by the business concerned.  You will also be required to show your student card when you sit for your exams.  If you are studying on campus, you may be asked for your ID card by Security if you are using the facilities after normal hours.

      • Head coverings and my student ID card photo
        Head coverings are not permitted to be worn, except for religious reasons, in which case, facial features from the bottom of the chin to the top of the forehead and both edges of your face must be clearly shown.  The University will take every measure possible to ensure privacy for students wearing head coverings for religious reasons.

      • Is there a cost for my student ID card?
        Student cards are issued to students free of charge. A $15 administration fee will apply when a lost card is replaced. Stolen cards can be replaced free of charge when the application is accompanied by a police incident number.

Buy your textbooks

You can purchase your textbooks from the CDU bookshop prior to your first day of classes. The CDU website will tell you which books you need once you enter your unit code.

Check your timetable

For internal students only - check your semester and exam timetables on Timetables


Visit the Library website or the 'Welcome to New Students' library orientation page.

Log in to Learnline and take the tutorials

Learnline is Charles Darwin University's online learning environment, and includes Blackboard, CDU's web server and CDU's media streaming server.

At the start of each semester, Introduction to Learnline sessions are held as part of orientation.

Getting started with Learnline might be a little daunting if you've never studied online before, but be reassured that lots of other students have also felt this way and have gone on to become successful online learners.

Getting started

To get started in Learnline there are five things you will need to do:

Before you can log in to Learnline you will need to have activated your student computer account at the Identity Manager system via the My computer account page on the Current Students site. You should also check the system requirements page to make sure you have the right computer hardware and software.

Once you have activated your student computer account you can click on the Login to Learnline button and login by following the instructions.

Once you have logged in to Learnline, you will be presented with your My Learnline page. The first thing you need to do is familiarise yourself with the different features of this page and how to find your way around it.

Your My Learnline page is divided into several different sections, including Tools, My Announcements, My Courses and My Calendar. Note that where it says My Courses, what we really mean is 'My Units'. Spend some time moving around these sections and see where they each take you.

Learnline Student Orientation unit for new HE students

To help you get going, CDU has created a Learnline Student Orientation site that will help you to prepare for your first semester studying. In the site you will find information about using Learnline, demonstrations of key tools and features and activities to help you track your progress. The Learnline Student Orientation site is designed to resemble, as closely as possible, actual Learnline sites that you will use during your study. Gaining practical experience navigating around Learnline prior to your first semester will give you a great platform for success.

You can access this site in the ‘My Units’ panel after you log in to Learnline.

Quick quiz

To check whether you can find your way around some of the key features of Learnline, answer the following questions:

  • Can you access your units of study?
  • Can you find the unit outline and lecturer information for each of your units of study?
  • Can you use the Homepage icon to navigate quickly from an area of content back to the homepage?
  • Can you find a date in the calendar? (For example, the university census dates or the last day of the semester)
  • Can you find and read any announcements that have been made?
  • Can you find where to get help in Learnline?
  • Can you log out of Learnline?

Discussion is an important way you can interact online with other students and your lecturers. It will help you begin to feel part of a learning community, enable you to learn from others, provide you with help and support and perhaps even lead you to develop new friendships.

Most of your units that use Learnline will include a discussion board. This is a space for people enrolled in a particular unit to engage in online discussions with their lecturer and other students. To find out whether your units have discussion boards, have a look now at the main Learnline page for each unit you are enrolled in. Those units that have a discussion board will have a link to it in the menu on the left hand side of the page.

The first step involved in participating in online discussions is to post an introductory message to the discussion board for each unit. This should be done within the first few days of gaining access to the discussion board. You may feel a little nervous about doing this at first, but this is normal. As you get to know more about your peers you will probably become more comfortable about posting messages online.

To post an introduction:

  1. Click on the discussion board link in the left hand menu.
  2. Select an appropriate discussion forum by clicking on its heading link.
  3. If your lecturer has already posted a welcome message, you may like to post your introduction as a reply. To do this, open your lecturer's message, click 'Reply', type your introduction and click 'Submit'.
  4. Alternatively, you may like to post your introduction as an entirely new message. To do this, click on 'Create Thread', enter a title for your message, type your introduction and click 'Submit'.

If you are nervous about posting your message, draft your text in a word processing program first and then copy and paste it into the discussion box.

Once you have posted an introduction you are ready to begin communicating with others. Have a look at the discussion boards for each of your units and read the introductions posted by other people. Choose one or two for each unit and reply to these with a short greeting. While this might feel a little awkward at first, feel reassured that this is an important part of 'breaking the ice' and getting to know the other students in your classes. It will help make it easier for you to discuss ideas and issues with your peers as the semester progresses.

When you reply to a message you will notice that your message appears indented below the original message. This helps keep all messages related to the one subject together so they can be located easily. Also notice how important it is that the first message in a new thread has a descriptive subject heading—if every new thread has the same title such as 'Hi' or 'Question', it can become difficult to go back and find particular posts later in the semester.

During the semester your lecturer will probably post questions and discussion topics on the unit's discussion board. Your lecturer may also create smaller private discussion groups for you to work in with a smaller number of your peers. Check the discussion board regularly and try to participate actively in discussions. As you do, remember that you may be interacting with people who are in different locations and time zones. This is known as asynchronous communication. Remember that different people will reply to postings at different times of the day and week. Be patient and respect each other's schedules.

Why is discussion important?

Research has shown that people are generally more reflective when they participate in asynchronous online discussions. This is because there is more time to consider the messages from other people and to respond after giving an issue some thought. This has been shown to be useful for encouraging deeper learning—learning that has meaning and is more likely to be retained (as opposed to surface learning that is easily forgotten after the exam).

While there may be times when you find it helpful to lurk in the background and read messages without actively participating, try not to do this all the time. If everyone 'lurks' all the time, you'll find there will be no discussions to read, and you will miss out on the learning benefits that a vibrant discussion community can bring. At the same time, try not to post multiple messages to the discussion board every day. A discussion community that is a little 'too vibrant' for its own good can be overwhelming, stressful and exhausting! Aim for a happy medium.

Netiquette (network etiquette or Internet etiquette) covers the dos and don'ts of communicating online, whether in Learnline or on the Internet in general.

If you don't have much experience in communicating on the Internet, it's important you take the time to learn the protocols that will help you respect other people and avoid causing offence. The following website is an invaluable source of advice and information:

It includes a Netiquette Quiz, which is very informative.

Another useful netiquette website is Master the Basics:

This site provides information about emoticons (emotion icons or smileys) that you can use in your emails and discussions; acronyms that people often use to save typing (e.g. BTW – by the way, FYI – for your information and IMHO – in my honest/humble opinion) as well as general tips and advice.

Reflective activity

Learning to communicate well online is a skill that takes time and practice. As you participate in Learnline discussions throughout your studies, reflect on the following questions:

  • Do I use appropriate language when I write discussion postings?
  • Am I able to express disagreement without being perceived as rude?
  • Do I encourage others to engage in discussions with me by making it clear I am open to other ideas or viewpoints?
  • When I read discussion posts that annoy me, do I make myself pause until my initial anger has passed before responding?
  • Do I know how to distinguish between when to respond to someone publicly on the discussion board and when to send them a private email?

As your studies progress

As your studies progress you will also need to be able to:

In order to do well in your studies you will need to develop effective study skills and strategies. This includes learning how to:

  • Organise your time
  • Read and research effectively
  • Write essays and other assignments in an appropriate academic style
  • Reference correctly
  • Think critically
  • Revise effectively for exams
  • Maintain your motivation levels.

To help you with each of these tasks, CDU has developed a comprehensive online Study Skills guide that is relevant to all students, whether studying externally or on campus. It includes a study skills self-assessment test, detailed referencing guides and a time planning and analysis tool.

Visit the Study Skills website early in your studies and complete the self-assessment to identify your strengths and weaknesses. Return to the website periodically for information and guidance. The website also provides information about CDU's Academic Skills Facilitator who is available to assist you with your learning needs.

Many units that are delivered using Learnline will require you to submit your assignments online.

Generally, your assignments will need to be in Microsoft Word (.doc) or Rich Text Format (.rtf). They will also need to have a coversheet and a filename that makes it easy for your lecturer to see who the file belongs to, e.g. yournameunitcode.doc. If your lecturers have specific requirements they will let you know.

To submit an assignment online:

  1. Go to the main Learnline page for that unit.
  2. Select the 'Assessments' link in the left hand menu.
  3. Select the link for the appropriate assignment.
  4. Look for the 'View/Complete Assignment' link. If this link is not there it means that online submission has not been set up for that assignment. Check the unit's submission details for further information.
  5. Click on the 'View/Complete Assignment' link and type a note to your lecturer in the 'Comment' box.
  6. Attach your assignment by clicking on the 'Browse' button and selecting your assignment file.
  7. Click the 'Submit' button.

If your assignment was submitted online, your grade and feedback will also be available online when your assignment has been marked.

To view your grades:

  1. Go to your My Learnline page
  2. Click on the 'View Grades' link in the Tools menu
  3. Click on the link to the appropriate unit