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5 questions you must ask a uni before starting an online degree

This article appears in: Balance work, life and study
Female student lying on bed looking at a laptop

A lot has changed lately. Online degrees have long been the norm for Charles Darwin University, but for many Australians, the idea of studying online from home is part of the ‘new normal’ post Coronavirus lockdown. But, not all online learning is created equal.

Whether you want to make the most of #iso or you need to shift your career focus, an online degree is a flexible and exciting way of learning.

Before you jump into studying an online degree, here are five questions you should be posing to universities you’re considering for your course.

1. How long have you been offering online degrees?

If you’re investing in an online degree, you want your time and money to be well spent.

The learning should be productive, the technology should work, and you should be properly supported.

Universities with a history of delivering online courses know what it takes to make your online learning successful. They have great technology and robust IT teams that make it a priority to keep you connected. They employ staff that are just as comfortable teaching in virtual classrooms as real-life classrooms. And they support you to stay in touch with your peers.

CDU has been delivering courses online for more than 20 years. Seventy per cent of our students were already studying online well before Coronavirus hit. So, we're well placed to fulfil your online study needs.

2. What formats and devices can I use to access my learning materials?

The beauty of studying online is that it’s flexible… but only if you can learn on your terms.

Find out how learning materials are delivered. Are lectures available as video and audio files? Can I download now and play later? What devices can I access materials on? Can I participate in group discussions if I miss a live tutorial?

This gives you the flexibility to study without an internet connection, or while you’re walking the dogs, or taking your lunch break.

At CDU, you can stream interactive lectures through your desktop, laptop and mobile. You can attend lectures live or watch them pre-recorded, and dip into forums for group discussions. In short, you can study where, when and how you please.

3. How do I connect and collaborate with other students?

Discussion and idea-sharing are a vital part of learning. It’s how you’ll consume new knowledge, develop critical thinking and learn to communicate persuasively.

You don’t have to compromise on honing your collaboration skills because you’re learning online.

Find out about the collaboration tools available to you.


At CDU, you can participate in live, interactive lectures and tutorials. If you miss the live version, you can jump into forums, join discussion boards and chat online with your fellow students – any time of the day or night. Don’t be surprised when you make new online study buddies after the kids are in bed, or in the wee hours before work starts – you won’t be alone!

4. What happens if I need academic help?

Student working on a laptop

On-campus students usually have access to academic support services, study groups, and meetings with tutors. You don’t have to miss out because you study online. Ask about what academic support options are available at a distance.

CDU offers 24/7 online tutoring – your very own study-specific service, including feedback on draft assignments to help you learn and improve. Plus, you may have access to group study sessions run by students who successfully completed your units, so they’ll have top tips and know exactly what you’re going through.

Importantly, because CDU also has small class sizes lecturers and tutors give you the attention and support you need.

Small class sizes mean lecturers aren't spread too thinly over lots of students.

5. What happens if I have a technical problem?

Nobody has time for technical problems. Seriously, if you’re studying online, your time should be spent learning, not hitting refresh 10 times in the hope your lesson will load.

CDU has 24/7/365 round-the-clock technical support via email, call and chat to ensure you’re always connected. The IT team are just a click or call away, so you can focus on what’s important.

Ready to start your online study journey? Explore more than 100 online courses at CDU.

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