To say that Mark Butters has his hands full would be an understatement. He is a father of two boys under two, a Residential Care Worker for teenagers in out of home care, and a player and coach for Beechworth Cricket Club.
He is also studying to become a primary school teacher through Swinburne Online. Mark started his degree studying on campus at a different university but when he and his fiancée found out they were expecting their first child, Mark decided to go back to work full time and could no longer attend the set campus classes.
“Swinburne Online allows me to complete all my study online with the only offline aspect of the course being the four placements. The rest of my life is so busy that it is nice to know I can keep up with my study at home, work or on my mobile phone".
Managing a young family, work and study
Mark makes use of the local library as a quiet area to study and he maximises his time by occasionally completing readings at work during quiet moments on his shift. Mark also has a great support network and a strong determination to get through his course.
“I have a supportive partner who has studied and knows the difficulties that it presents. It is obviously difficult but I know the end is near and I am determined to finish my study.”
A network of eDads
Mark is certainly not the only father studying online, and he has been able to meet other busy, sleep-deprived dads who are also logging into their portal at all hours of the morning.
“I have met other fathers online due to the fact that we do a lot of collaborative work for each subject. Clearly online study is a great alternative to mainstream university for many parents who want to study while raising a family.”
Flexibility when it’s needed
With such a busy timetable, there are times when study has to take a back seat. Deadlines will occasionally have to be shifted when day-to-day life doesn’t go to plan (as it often doesn’t).
“I’ve found that any difficulties or questions that come up are easily and promptly answered via email. I have often asked my eLearning Advisor for a short extension on assessments due to sick children or other difficulties and have always been given a prompt and positive response. The discussion board is also a great place to speak with other students in order to get the support needed to complete assessments.”
Words of advice
Living in Beechworth, a country town three hours’ drive from the closest capital city, Mark believes that online study is not only great for those living in regional areas, but for any parent who is keen take up or continue their studies.
“I feel that online study is almost catered specifically for parents that are trying to juggle study, work and family. The ‘go at your own pace’ feel to online study means that the student can look at their work on the go using their tablet, laptop or even mobile phone to keep up-to-date with announcements. Students can choose to take on as little as one subject and as many as four during a session.”
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