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How to choose the study mode that is right for you

by Ian Gostelow

Choices for study used to be limited. Most people would attend classes at college or university, either on a full-time or part-time basis. Of course this is great if you are a school leaver starting out on your career. But with changes in society and demands for more flexibility, these options are not flexible enough to meet the needs of most busy people’s lifestyle. So now there are many more options available when it comes to your choice of study mode.
 
What is a study mode?
 
By study mode, we mean the way you choose to learn engage in study. With the evolution of learning technology and new options being provided by training providers, these choices have opened up a great deal in recent years. 
 
Whilst different study modes such as distance learning has been around for over a century (think of correspondence education using printed workbooks) it is only in the twenty-first century with changes in online technology that practices have matured enough to gain mainstream acceptance.
 
Study mode choices are usually divided between on-campus (attending a class at an education facility or similar venue) and off-campus (no in-person class attendance) but within this choice, there are now so many other options. 

 
On-campus or classroom study
 
On-campus is a traditional mode of attendance based study, where you will usually undertake classes provided by a trainer (or lecturer) in a classroom provided by your education institution. 
 
These classes can be scheduled day or night, and you may be able to attend full time, part time (perhaps even just for one class a month). 
 
The advantage of On-campus study is that there are usually a lot more resources available, you receive guidance around your study and generally have more peer (classmate) support. You’ll develop close relationships with your classmates as you journey through the learning experience together.
 
On-Campus study is usually complemented by computer use alongside your class attendance.
 
You may have access to a Student Portal on the internet (sometimes called a Learning Management System) where learning resources are located and assessments are submitted for marking. 
Some classes might use an approach called Blended Learning, where you have a mix or blend of study modes including class attendance, online tutoring and flexible delivery or online learning materials.
 
Off-Campus Study Modes
 
Off-Campus study is all about flexibility to fit the student’s lifestyle which often includes work and family commitments.  
 
Sometimes too, students live in remote areas where on-campus study is not available and so off-campus study is a great option to be able to access the same education and qualification opportunities.
 
Off campus modes have different supporting resources which substitute for class attendance.
 
 
Distance Learning
 
In the Distance Learning study mode, students are provided with learning resources and they work through these resources independently.
 
This is often called a self-paced mode.  It doesn’t mean that there aren’t assignment due dates but that the learning can be done at times and places that suit the student.
 
Students are required to complete a workbook and other assessment tasks by themselves at their own location and return these to a trainer for marking. 
 
Although you will not have classes to attend, you will still be able to communicate a trainer to ask questions. 
 
Many colleges, including Customised Training, also offer student peer support groups where you can ask people studying the same qualification questions and help each other through your course.
 
Online Learning
 
Online learning has become very popular in the last decade. 
 
As the name of this study mode implies, this type of learning requires you to log on to a Learning Management System using the internet. 
 
Your login is linked to the course and subjects you are studying and the resources for these subjects are made available to you for download (or to read online) through your computer. 
 
Within the LMS there are usually other enrolled students who you will be able to connect with in chat or forums and this gives you some of the traditional peer support you may have enjoyed within the classroom. 
In some online subjects there may also be webinars – these webinars are like a traditional trainer (or lecturer) led classes, where you will go through the learning resources as part of a video conference from your computer desktop.
 
So which of these study modes is right for you? 
 
Making the right choice has a big impact on your ability to successfully complete your course so it’s important to make a good decision.
 
A lot of that choice comes back to your goals and to your circumstances. 
 
Cost may also be a factor to consider. 
 
With so much choice now, almost every training provider will have a slightly different approach to delivering your qualification and you should be able to find a provider that best meets your needs. 
 
 
Use the free guide, How To Select A Training Provider, to research different colleges and RTOs (Registered Training Organisations) and make sure you make an informed decision about your study mode.
 
In each case be sure to thoroughly of what type of learning resources and the quality of the materials you would be using for your study.
 
The first question you should definitely ask is do I want or need a trainer (teacher) I can access in person? 
 
The answer to this will be influenced by your study area and confidence in your learning ability. If you are not very confident (or haven’t studied for a while) and you are studying in a complex area, then you probably need to attend classes On-Campus. 
 
If you are working as well as studying and your employer doesn’t provide training in the workplace, then you will need to find a provider who delivers at a time when you are available to study.
 
If you are confident or an experienced student and the area of study is not so complex then off-campus study is a great option - either through Distance Learning (workbooks, and other materials) or Online Learning. 
 
Certainly with improvements in technology Online Learning is the study mode that offers the greatest flexibility, ease of access, and generally better breadth and depth of learning materials – sometimes still with remote teacher support.
 
Making your final decision
 
Now that you are aware of the many things to consider when determining which study mode would best suit your personal circumstances and needs, you can make a decision.
 
Here’s a guide to help:
 

Question

On-Campus

Off-Campus

Do I want/have regular access to a trainer in person?

 

Do I find the study area complicated?

 

Can I attend classes?

 

Do I need support to use technology?

 

Are you a confident learner?

 
Study Mode Advice
 
At Customised Training, we have a team of trained Course Advisors who can help you work through the study modes that are available and which one would be suitable to you and the qualification you wish to study.
 
To contact a Course Advisor, phone 1300 275 282, email info@customisedtraining.edu.au or start up a live chat here on our website.
 
 

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