Study skills

La Trobe University Library La Trobe Library

Study skills

La Trobe University Library La Trobe Library

Study skills

La Trobe University Library La Trobe Library

Study skills


Online learning

Online learning platforms facilitate flexibility for your learning across time and space. For example, you can access your lectures and related materials anytime and anywhere and you can interact with your lecturers and peers.

For example:

  • Lectures can be viewed before the sessions and after at your own pace;
  • Questions and responses can happen in discussion forums along with engagement with your subject in a digital platform; and
  • Subject and assignment notices and announcements can be found for the subject.

Doing some or all of your learning online offers you significant benefits. It gives you more flexibility as you can learn online at a time that suits you best. This platform also allows you to work at your own pace and enables you to revisit subject matter to accommodate your own learning needs.


Online learning  at La Trobe University may involve:

Fully online subjects: usually offered through the Learning Management System (LMS) and offer a range of tools for learning:

  • videos
  • reading resources
  • podcasts
  • online discussion forums and
  • blogs


Online subjects require a similar amount of time devoted to them as face-to-face subjects. A small number of subjects are currently offered in this mode.

Blended subjects: subjects which combine face-to-face learning with online learning. This gives you the flexibility to learn at a time and pace that suits you as well as giving you the opportunity to benefit from the expertise and enthusiasm of our academic staff in face-to-face contexts. In a blended subject:

  • the online learning is directly related to and complements face-to-face learning; and
  • you may be asked to engage with subject content online before classes (often referred to as flipped learning).
    • This content is then followed up/reinforced in a face-to-face environment e.g. a tutorial, seminar or practical class.
    • With flipped learning, the lectures and homework of a course are reversed.
    • Lectures are short videos viewed by students at home before the class, while in-class time is spent doing exercises, projects, or discussions.

Just as we need to be considerate and appropriate in our face-to-face communication with other people, we need to be mindful of how we communicate with others online. The policies that exist throughout the university are just as applicable in online spaces – discrimination will not be tolerated. This is a legal obligation, not just a matter of politeness.

Discriminatory, abusive or disruptive behaviour in class or online falls under the General Misconduct Statute 2009 and can lead to the student being excluded from the lecture, seminar, tutorial or other activity at the time, and for up to 4 weeks if the misconduct is repeated or ongoing. In severe cases, and following a hearing, students can be suspended or excluded from the University. For more information see the section on General misconduct as part of the Academic Matters page.

If you read inappropriate comments in a University online forum, contact your tutor or subject co-ordinator.

Here are some guidelines around online communication regardless of the platform:

  • Make sure you are in the right space – some forums are for general discussion, others will have specific topics.
  • Read previous posts before responding to avoid repetition.
  • Stay on topic and keep your messages short. Use clear subject lines or topic headings.
  • Respond to the ideas; do not attack the person. Acknowledge and respect alternative views by being constructive. This can be achieved by providing evidence or giving examples to substantiate claims. The university does not tolerate targeting a person or group via emotionally charged messages or deliberate provocation (these practices are known as ‘flaming’ or ‘trolling’).
  • Avoid jargon or abbreviations unless they are defined or commonly known in your academic discipline.
  • Post content under your own name (not a pseudonym or from anyone else’s account).
  • Seek permission before forwarding material, particularly from within restricted forums.
  • If you wish to contact a specific person send a direct message or email rather than posting to group forums or message boards.
  • Hesitate before you post: University is a professional environment, so read back over what you have written, make sure the meaning is clear and follow academic conventions of language, spelling and grammar.
  • Tone is important. Ambiguity, sarcasm and joking can be misinterpreted because you do not have the cues of body language when you’re communicating online. If you are unsure what to say, or how to express something, look at previous posts as a guide.
  • If a communication is misunderstood, causes offence or is simply a mistake then apologise (this does not necessarily have to be part of the main forum discussion).
  • Avoid embarrassing people by pointing out their mistakes in the public forum. If you need to correct information in a public post, address the information rather than the person who posted the mistake.

NO:     You’re wrong about the meaning of the question.

YES:   The question might be better understood as …

  • Give people the benefit of the doubt – the information may have been correct at the time or someone else might have misinformed them.
  • Core rules of netiquette
    For more information see Virginia Shea’s The Core Rules of Netiquette
  • The Learning Management System:

    Whether you are studying in a fully online subject or a subject that is mostly delivered face-to-face, you will need to use the online Learning Management System (LMS - also known as Moodle).

    The LMS is your central point to manage your university study. It is where you’ll find all of the important information for your subjects, as well as links to useful help and resources. Click here for more information about how to access the LMS.

    Below you will find an example of an LMS page. Page layout will vary so browse your different subjects to get familiar with where things are located:

    • Example of LMS page
      This image shows an example of LMS page; note that LMS pages may have different layouts


    EchoSystem is the lecture capture and online delivery system used by La Trobe for access by students.


    PebblePad is a web based program provided to all staff and students by La Trobe University to support the creation of a personal learning space (PLS) and eportfolios. For further information and instructions on how to use Pebblepad, click here.


    Collaborate is La Trobe's Virtual Learning Environment (VLE), a web-based audio and video conferencing system.


    Turnitin is a web-based text-matching software system used by La Trobe to determine academic integrity.

    • Always allow sufficient time for submitting assignments online. Never leave it to the last minute to submit online. It takes time to upload documents and complete Turnitin reports. For more information and instructions on how to read a Turnitin report or to submit an assignment, see the link below.
  • Turnitin
    Instructions on viewing an originality report and submitting your assignment via Turnitin.
  • Students IT introduction
    For more information on all these learning technologies.
  • Here are some tips to help you get the best out of your online/blended learning experiences at university, whether you're a newcomer or an experienced online student. You may also like to consult the Online Glossary for an overview of common online learning terms.

    • Ensure you have access to a device with Internet access.
    • Check with Student IT Support which web browsers work best with the university's LMS. Ensure that you have adequate bandwidth and download any videos to watch in your own time rather than live streaming if bandwidth is an issue for you. See the Echosystem website for advice on downloading.
    • Check that you can log in to the systems (LMS, Collaborate, Pebblepad, etc). If a subject isn’t appearing for you, check via Student Online that you are enrolled properly. Test that you are able to log in before classes begin.

    • Explore the LMS for each of your subjects. They will all have similar information but it may be set out differently. Each page should have contact information for teaching staff, a subject learning guide, information on assessment, forums along with subject material. Get in the habit of checking these pages regularly – it is assumed that information posted on forums has been read by students.
    • Have a good pair of headphones so you can hear any videos clearly without background noise interference and without disturbing others.

    If you are in a blended course/subject, establish how much time to devote to online tasks and face-to-face tasks. This will help you to work out the proportion of time for various online and face-to-face activities and to organise your study schedule

    You may need to have a regular time to devote to engaging with the LMS. For some courses, it will be daily, and for others it might be weekly. Establish the frequency and time that you will need for each subject based on its requirements.

    Some online subjects may require your participation at particular times – i.e. for online discussions or workshops. Others may allow you to choose the time that suits you, and others may be self-paced.

    1. Prioritise what needs to be done in each LMS visit.

    When you access the LMS have a list of what you need to do with a time estimate for each task. It's easy to meander in online spaces. It's also useful to have any other tools closed down such as your email or Facebook so you can focus fully on the subject LMS.

    Prioritise the tasks. For example, you might go to the Announcements section at the start, then check the calendar for any events, and then go to the content topic or read the discussion forum content.

    Above all, stay up-to-date.

    2. Establish good ergonomic practices from the start.

    Consider the appropriate desk and chair height, footrest when setting up your learning space. Consider also the aesthetics of your visual display screens and customise them to your preferences. Worksafe Victoria has more information on office ergonomics.

    Take a break every 20 minutes, and check what you have achieved. Go for a quick stretch and move and return for your next task.

    3. Match your learning to your style.

    Be active in your online learning, not passive where you 'just' read, or 'just' watch. Do something with the information and resources, for example, convert them to a mind map, summary notes, bullet points, or a digital recording summary.

    Carry out tasks efficiently: create bookmarks for pages you will use frequently; use your Browser's Search Tool to type in a key word for example. You can use word clouds (e.g. Wordle) to summarise notes or to get a visual snapshot of the themes in an online discussion week or for the topic.

    Information overload is one of the effects of the digital age, the secret is to learn to sift, prioritise, and store the information so that it's accessible and retrievable for you. Some suggestions to follow:

    1. Set subject LMS notifications format and stay-up-to-date.
      You can, in most cases, decide on how you would like to receive LMS notifications and updates. For example, as individual notification of every new entry, or as a daily digest which is an aggregate of all the new posts and updates for each day. This can help reduce the information deluge.
    2. Establish a systematic filing and naming system.
      Establish a systematic filing system across each of your subjects - in soft copy (electronic) and hard copy. Consider colour-coding your folders. Include the dates on files and folders and use names and abbreviations that are meaningful to you.
    3. Back up all your files and URLs.
      Vital to any digital material is back up and storage. It's useful to have multiple back up devices of your material. Consider cloud options also, such as Dropbox, or Google Docs, for example. Note though that these are on external university servers. A useful strategy also is to email your current or final important assignment documents to yourself so you have a copy available. Remember, loss or corruption of an electronic file is not grounds for an extension.
    4. Use library database software tools for references.
      If you have a large project or thesis where you need to collect a large number of references, then specifically designed software such as Endnote is a valuable tool. The university has student licences for Endnote.

    Read important Copyright and Privacy policies

    • Vital for Digital Literacy is Digital Integrity, so follow the Australian Copyright laws. See the Australian Copyright Council for some excellent resources.

    Further assistance 

    • IT support is available to all students. If you need assistance, you can contact ICT or submit a request for assistance
  • Student IT support
    Contact ICT or submit request for assistance