Your coursework at Western Sydney University Online is equal parts engaging and dynamic. And it’s all guided by your Online Learning Advisors (OLAs) who will help you through your modules. We spoke to Sarah, one of our many talented OLAs, about what her role entails, some of the challenges of online learning and her tips for success.
Tell us about your role as an Online Learning Advisor.
As an OLA, the tasks I complete each day vary throughout the teaching period. Before the teaching period starts I complete unit checks to ensure modules and unit readings are accessible and accurate. Once teaching begins, I post weekly announcements and reminders about assessment tasks and initiate discussion board conversations with students. I respond to and engage with students’ comments on the discussion boards each day and assist with any queries or concerns about coursework. I also manage extension requests and work with students through their circumstances. Once assessments are due, I am involved in marking and releasing grades to students.
What is your favourite part of your role? What are the challenges?
I enjoy helping students navigate their course content, assisting with the overall management of their studies and watching their progress as they complete their units. There are also challenges that come with teaching online, such as not meeting my students physically and trying to generate engaging virtual discussion during slower periods. I value these challenges as I believe students should discuss content and engage with their OLAs and peers to get the most out of their learning.
What can you help students with that they might not know about?
OLAs are able and happy to help students comprehend their course content beyond what’s written in their online modules. I encourage students to reach out and ask questions about any content or assessment criteria they might find confusing. I have taught in both an online and on-campus setting and have been able to assist students with their coursework at the same level in both environments.
Is there a student experience that stands out to you?
I really value the emails I sometimes receive from students at the end of the teaching period, thanking me for my support and patience during their studies. Students might extend their gratitude for times where I provided assessment extensions while they were experiencing personal issues, or times where I provided advice, clarity or guidance for assessment tasks.
What are your top tips for online students?
Use a wall planner that covers the teaching period and note down when each of your assessments are due. This gives you an overview of what’s coming up and allows you to pencil in time for other commitments, like family, work or recreation.
A lot of students find it helpful to set aside regular times and days to work on each unit and complete their weekly tasks, much like students on campus do in weekly tutorials or workshop sessions.
Most importantly – make sure you’re being realistic about your study load and balancing it healthily with other commitments. If it’s too much, drop your units to a manageable load.
Western Sydney University Online’s OLAs are here to assist you with any coursework-related concerns to make your studies that much more achievable. Don’t hesitate to contact your OLAs via your student email or online classroom if you need any clarity or assistance.