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The ins and outs of online learning

Posted by Jenna Baskin on 28/05/2020
Jenna Baskin
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Is online studying a good option for me?

It’s a big decision, a potential life changer. It takes careful thought and planning among friends and family but importantly - a commitment to yourself. The impact of taking on a study commitment should not be underestimated.


Table of Contents

  1. Is online studying a good option for me?
  2. Ask yourself
  3. Where do I start? The Course Advisor!
  4. The benefits of online learning
  5. What are the basics I will need to start?

It also depends on your current life circumstances and how studying online can meet your personal and professional goals. If you have a busy lifestyle balancing work, family or financial commitments than a self-paced online course can be beneficial.

There are many reasons why people study online here is a (non-exhaustive) list:

  • Employed full time looking for time flexibility
  • Upgrading skills in current role for progression
  • Transitioning into management roles
  • Entrepreneur or business owner
  • Matching experience to a recognised qualification
  • Stay at home mums or dads
  • Mums or dads returning to the workforce
  • Early School leaver
  • Mature aged returning to the workforce
  • Physical or mental disability
  • Rural residents
  • Job seeker

Online learning may also be suitable if you have a self-directed learning style and you do not need a physical classroom setting. This does not mean though you will never talk to any other learner or facilitator because a well-designed course will involve online discussion forums,  chats and even a personal eMentor that can be contacted via phone or email.

Ask yourself.

If you think you have the motivation, discipline and dedication to avoid distractions and know how to study online effectively, then there's a good chance you will succeed in completing your course and enjoy the experience. If you lack the confidence, are undecided about where to start or what course to undertake or just need more information to help with your decision, I would suggest getting in contact with a course advisor.

Where do I start? The Course Advisor!

Eventually you will need to ask yourself what course is best suited to meet my long term goals. For example,I have online learners who want to run their own business someday and a Diploma in Business may be tailored to their needs or you may be transitioning between specialised industries or looking for business related employment.

It can be confusing and with so many business courses on offer so where do you start? The course advisor.

I spent some time with MCI’s Senior Course Adviser Talei Owen, with over 4 years experience in education she has helped and launch distant and online learners into their qualifications.

I addressed some frequent concerns potential learners have before enrolling in an online course with Talei.

What are some of the first steps and considerations a potential online learner would make when deciding to enrol in an online qualification at MCI?

Commitment, relevance and time. We need to make sure the course is relevant to their choice of career and future goals. In addition to that, students are asked to think about how much spare time they have each day to dedicate to their study before taking such a big step. It’s important to do this so they understand the commitment required by MCI for them to complete their course.

What advice can you give for someone  deciding between a Double diploma and Diploma?  

I know I mentioned it above but time is a big thing when taking on a 2nd diploma. We don’t want students to feel the pressure of taking on a 2nd qualification unless we believe they’ll be able to handle it. Also consider their goals and the benefit of taking on the 2nd diploma for promotions down the track. For example, it may not be required now but in  the future a student may look at applying for management role so with a 2nd diploma on their resume it will make their application look a lot better.

I have students who have years of experience behind them in a particular industry but they want to switch careers; how would a student go about deciding which course would suit their future needs?

If they have already spent years working in a role/industry they don’t like, it is important to try to help the student identify what their passion is. I always ask if they could pinpoint a specific job, what would that be? Based on their answer I am able to suggest a course that would be suitable.

Some students come to online learning without any prior qualifications or a lengthy time between studying, do you have some tips for them into selecting the right course?

Do their research before signing up and try to figure out what is important to them when choosing a course and provider. Make sure that the course they choose is Nationally Recognised and meets all standards as set by the Australian Qualifications Framework (AQF). Figure out which industry or role they would like to get into and choose a course based on that. Quite often people already have experience in areas and they want to get a qualification to go with their experience.

What support system does MCI offer for online learners undertaking a qualification?

Here at MCI Institute, students get their own personal mentor to help assist them with their studies. We also offer additional services such as career coaching, job search and interview tips plus a well-being line they can call to speak to a qualified counsellor.

What’s a common mistake you see students make when selecting the right course?

Sometimes students get job outcomes mixed up. For example, we get students enquiring about HR but they want to be social workers or counsellors which is where I normally come in, I can help them identify what they want to do and show them which course would best suit their needs.

The benefits of online learning

The rewards and benefits are well worth it. Furthering one’s education and skills not only increases your value for employment in today’s highly competitive workforce but it can provide you with many different pathway opportunities like higher education.

The sense of fulfilment and achievement when completing a qualification is invaluable, it inspires others to achieve their goals and I’ve had countless graduates testify to the fact that they underestimated what they could achieve when they put their mind to it.

Knowledge is something that can’t be taken away from you, it is power, I’ll quote the Greek Philosopher Plato here “The direction in which education starts a man will determine his future in life”.

What are the basics I will need to start?

MCI Institute strives towards delivering innovative and compatible content to a variety of devices to access course material online. I have students that access their material and documents from their mobile devices, because really, smartphones these days are miniature computers and that’s absolutely fine.

As most online learning is delivered, well, 'online' it makes sense that basic technology and IT skills are required (but not essential).

Here is a basic check list:

  • A working computer/device
  • Internet Access
  • Word processing software (I recommend Microsoft Word as it’s used by the majority and best in it’s class. If you don’t own it, it’s an affordable and wise investment.)

Sound knowledge of IT skills will only make your online experience tangle free and enjoyable. There are a number of online resources to test your knowledge and brush up on the basics. It covers a wide range of topics such as email, social networking, basic computer skills and word processing.

Check out: This digital literacy website 

It is a fantastic and free open source website to test your knowledge and identify gaps you might need to improve on. If you are a current student with MCI you will find these resources in your study prep units or ask your mentor and they will guide you to them.

We can also provide you with hard copies of units as an alternative. This may suit a student who lives in remote areas of Australia, have physical difficulties reading from the screen or lack the resources to access the course material. Hey, you may even prefer to study the ‘old school’ way, highlighter in hand and tangible paper, more power to you.


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Topics: Mentors, online business course, online learning, productivity, Study Type, studying online, online diploma course, online course australia

By Jenna Baskin

Jenna Baskin is the CEO of MCI and has over 11 years’ experience in the training and education space. She was responsible for the creation of the MCI's online consumer division, the MCI Institute, and the transition of the organisation into the digital learning landscape. This includes platform partnerships across North America, unique content development, and the introduction of virtual reality learning methodologies.