Australia's online learning revolution - The growth of flexible study

Over the last decade, as technology has improved and materials have been modified to ensure learning is geographically limitless, there has been a steady growth of students choosing online study for both convenience and quality. 

The growth of effective online learning alternatives across the board is now possible due to the availability of high quality curriculums and learning materials specifically designed for flexible study.

Face to face and online students have an equally difficult task balancing their employment, family, household and social commitments with their studies. However, the flexibility afforded through distance and online learning is priceless – particularly for those already engaged in the workforce. It also requires a degree of self motivation. 

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“Online study can be surprisingly active and inclusive as students are more likely to be engaged with likeminded peers with similar time or location restraints”

Tools, such as online self-review quizzes, are designed to give students the ability to self monitor their progress and receive immediate results and feedback. The sharing of resources through access to RSS feeds, online library collections and e-portfolios also contributes to a student’s learning experience and their chance of success.

To facilitate proactive and effective learning institutions should encourage students to think, act and be accountable like a professional in their chosen field.  Students should have the opportunity to choose the delivery mode that suits them including a blend of face-to-face and online classes and, to ensure all online students have the tools they need to succeed, resources should be delivered through a web-based, student-focussed system.

Traditionally a very ‘hands-on’ subject, effective hospitality learning is achieved by incorporating phone and email contact with extensive Skype and online forum communication. Online programs are designed to mirror a classroom experience through course structure, student accountability and time management. 

Online study can be surprisingly active and inclusive as students are more likely to be engaged with likeminded peers with similar time or location restraints. Study materials can also be presented in a range of formats from video and interactive media, to live pod-casts. Students can also actively participate in group activities such as discussion forums, message boards, blogs, wiki's (editable web pages) and group assignments. 

A key to the success of online learning options is having online support staff that are specifically trained to be flexible and empathetic, and to offer advice and reassure students that the institution is committed to their learning goals. 

Authored by the William Blue College of Hospitality Management

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