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Online teacher knows what it takes to study online

Swinburne Online eLearning Advisor (eLA), Margaret Nixon, understands the unique challenges and opportunities of studying online – and not just from a teacher’s perspective. Margaret studied the majority of her undergraduate degree online while working full time as a chef.

Margaret uses her experiences at a professional, personal and academic level to connect with and help Swinburne Online students achieve their goals.

“I enjoy the connection you form with students.  I love it when a new unit starts and I recognise familiar names. Having students across more than one unit is really special, it makes for unique moments, perhaps more personal than face to face teaching because I find students to be a lot more open to discussion online.”

As the main point of contact for students, eLAs are often required to go above and beyond on a number of levels. A memorable case for Margaret is when she helped a student experiencing extremely difficult times personally achieve her academic goals.

“One of my students returned to study in her late sixties, because she really wanted to learn about the topic. After a promising start and enthusiastic participation, this student found out her partner had an illness that required a great deal of medical intervention and support.

“Although this made completing assessment and activities very challenging, the student expressed a desire to continue as best she could. Despite all the obstacles, and the incredible amount of stress, this student successfully passed the unit.

“By keeping the lines of communication open and recognising what was possible and what wasn't, I was able to support this student to achieve her academic goal in very difficult circumstances.

“I will always remember the perseverance and bravery of that student - what a woman!”

Alongside her role as an eLA at Swinburne Online, Margaret is working towards her PhD in forensic psychology at Swinburne University of Technology’s Centre for Forensic Behavioural Science. 

“Being in touch with the latest research, reading articles, understanding what people in the field are doing, and working with clinicians really helps you stay in touch with material that connects to what students are learning and why it matters.

Like Swinburne Online students, Margaret benefits from the flexibility that online learning provides, allowing her to maintain a busy lifestyle alongside her role as an eLA.

“I really understand what students’ are experiencing, not only because I’ve been there, but because my life is busy too and online teaching allows for me to maintain my lifestyle while working.

“Knowing what hard work it is to study and work makes it all the more rewarding when you see students succeeding. I love marking essays or reports and seeing a student who has really put their all into a unit to produce great work when it really counts. You find yourself cheering when you realise it was them, and they have done so well.”