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What to expect when studying online

by Amanda Collins

**This article was updated in June 2020**

Studying online is a very different experience to traditional classroom-based learning, so it’s good to have a grasp of what to expect when you enrol.

Knowing the ‘ins and outs’ of online learning allows you to make the most of the valuable tools at your disposal from the very beginning, so you get the very best learning experience.

With this in mind, we’ve mapped out what you can expect when you study online with Open Colleges.

what to expect when studying online

Inspiration strikes

You’ve been toying with the idea of taking a course to get a job, change careers, get a promotion, get back into the workforce after a number of years, or to simply to explore an interest that you have.

You don’t have the time or the desire to attend classes and lectures, as well as meet assignment and exam deadlines, so you begin to look into online learning.

Narrowing down your search to the course that interests you, you download a Course Guide. In it you find an outline of the course details, as well as an invitation to have a phone chat with a friendly Enrolment Consultant.

Your chat with the Enrolment Consultant gives you more information about the course, as well as information on fees and payment plans that are available.

You’re excited, you take a day to think about your options, and then you decide to enrol.

Signing up

To enrol, you have two options: you can enrol online, or over the phone with a Enrolment Consultant.

Enrolling online: You return to the Course Page that you read when investigating your study options. On the page you find an Enrol Now button which you click. You fill in an online enrolment form and pay your course deposit. After this, a Recruitment Support Officer will call you to finalise your enrolment.

Enrolling over the phone: You call a Enrolment Consultant and they walk you through the enrolment process and take your deposit.

Now you are enrolled! What’s next?

how studying online works


During your enrolment you can opt to do an Orientation Session with a Learning Support Officer.

This Orientation Session teaches you how to navigate OpenSpace, your online campus, as well as what support systems are available to you.

Now that you know the system, it’s time to start learning!

Accessing lessons

OpenSpace, your online campus, is where you access all your lessons, readings and assessments. It is also the place where you can ask your trainers and assessors questions, and network, chat and get support from your fellow students.

Simple to use and really easy to navigate, you further familiarise yourself with OpenSpace after your Orientation Session by watching a video tour. If you have any questions about navigating the site, all you need to do is give Student Support a call, and they help you sort it out.

studying online

You can access OpenSpace wherever you are from your mobile phone, tablet, laptop or desktop computer, as long as you have an internet connection.

From the day you enrol, you are allotted a certain amount of time within which you need to complete your course. After that, there are no deadlines, no assignment or exam due dates, all you do is work through your course in your own time and at your own pace, to complete it by the course expiry date.

Everything you need, from your lessons, readings, video tutorials, webinars, assessments and exams you access via your own OpenSpace page, and you make your way through your course whenever you have the time.

As you’re not required to meet deadlines when you study online, you have to be very self-disciplined, and set specific weekly or monthly study targets to make sure you keep on working even though the pressure is off.

Got questions?

Most of the time you study and learn on your own but this doesn’t mean that you are completely alone.

When you have questions about your study, you can email them to your trainers and assessors and they’ll get back to you with the answers. You can also jump onto student forums in OpenSpace and chat to your fellow students about course content and your questions.

Extra help

If you find yourself lacking motivation, need help to timetable your study session or having questions about OpenSpace, payments or anything else, you simply call Open Colleges’ friendly Student Support and Learning Support staff for advice.

It is their job to make sure you are on track, feel confident and have all the tools to ensure study success, so you don’t feel shy about giving them a call, they are there to help.

getting help while studying online

Making friends

You’ll find a number of student forums related to your course on OpenSpace. In these forums, students from all around the country, and in all different stages of the course, get online to chat, make friends, ask questions, provide advice and share their learning experience.

These forums keep you connected to a learning community, and are also a great place to find a friend to share your learning journey with.

Getting out and about

Some courses may feature a work placement. These are designed to provide you with on the job experience to solidify your learning, and help you to network in the industry that you want to find employment in.

It is your responsibility to find a work placement, and these must be approved by Open Colleges to ensure they are of a high standard.

If you have difficulty securing a work placement, Open Colleges has Work Placement Officers who are trained to help you find the perfect place to learn on-the-job. All you need to do is give them a call.

Exams and assessments

You access your assessments and exams through OpenSpace. There are no deadlines on these, so you undertake them when you feel ready.

They are marked by an Assessor who also provides you with feedback on what you did well and where you could improve.

If you have questions about your assignments and exams, email your assessor directly and they’ll get back to you with answers.

studying online anywhere

Final thoughts

As you can see, online learning is self-directed, the power is in your hands. For this reason when you learn online it’s a great idea to set aside regular times to study each week or month. There won’t be any teachers telling you when things are due, so setting regular goals is the best way to stay on top of your coursework.

Studying online doesn’t mean you are alone. You are only an email away from answers to your questions from trainers and assessors. You are only a forum away from mingling with your classmates. And you are only a phone call away from getting help with an academic plan, study tips, and work placement assistance from our Student Support and Learning Support staff.

Flexible, self-paced and available anywhere with internet, online learning is a great way to get qualified without disrupting your life. So what are you waiting for? Get on your way to changing your life with Open Colleges!

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