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Untangling terms: Swinburne Online Glossary

Terms you need to know when starting online university

Starting a university course is an exciting adventure full of new experiences and information. But it can also be challenging to navigate all of the new terms that are tossed at you. Do you need an SLO or an eLA? Was that document in your Learning Group or the Student Portal?

To make it easier for you to get your head around the Swinburne Online (SOL) lingo we have put together a quick glossary of terms. 

eLA – eLearning Advisors

Passionate professionals with years of industry experience who have been specially trained for teaching in online environments. Many still work in the field they teach in, providing you with a great source of knowledge and experience. They are on-hand throughout the course to answer your questions, mark assessments and to provide you with feedback and support.  

Student Advisors

Your support team available 7 days a week to help with questions outside your unit or course content. They can assist with general course advice, enrolment help, course planning, technical support, referrals for counselling, career advice and tips on how to get started if students are feeling overwhelmed.

Learning Group

Each unit you study throughout your degree will see you studying in a small “class” called a learning group, facilitated by an eLA. These small groups allow you to explore concepts with your peers and eLAs without getting lost in a crowd. 

Student Portal

The Student Portal is a one-stop-shop for information and support on the learning journey. You can check your course details, grab study resources or complete an orientation to learn more about how online study works.


Collaborate sessions are one of the tools we use to deliver online learning. It’s a web conferencing tool with live chat, audio and video that allows you to interact with eLAs, SLOs and fellow students during live presentations.


Smarthinking is a service which provides feedback on draft assignments and looks at different areas of your work including, grammar, structure, flow and use of evidence. It’s the perfect tool to use to check your essay draft, and ensure you get the best possible marks on your assessments. 

Teaching Period

There are three teaching periods, sometimes referred to as TPs, which run all year round, allowing you to complete your studies with lots of flexibility. 


A service that matches you with an expert tutor to provide support outside of normal eLA contact. Great for new and continuing students, YourTutor experts can assist you with academic writing skills, referencing, mathematics and lots more. 

Study Planner

Is a handy quick reference tool. You can download your own study planner to help you keep track of important dates, assessments and exams, across each teaching period. 


Don’t grab a heavy textbook, use eTexts! An eText is a free digital textbook for your study needs. Most subjects you study will have eTexts available, instead of hard copy books.


For our education students! As part of your education course, you must complete a professional experience placement within a school environment to graduate. A placement allows you to use your practical teaching skills in a live classroom environment. 

Core and Elective Units

All undergraduate courses are made up of Core and Elective units. Core units are the subjects that must be studied to complete the requirements of the course and electives are subjects that you can choose to study for interest or to build out your understanding in certain areas.