Online learning has become an essential part of our lives. Whether you’re a student, a professional looking to upskill, or just someone wanting to learn, online learning platforms offer a convenient and flexible way to learn. 

Australians are spoiled for choice when it comes to online learning platforms. From university-backed platforms like Open Universities Australia (OUA), to CPD-endorsed platforms like Online Courses Australia, to specialised course providers like LinkedIn Learning Courses and Coursera, there’s something for everyone.

In this article, we’re taking you through how exactly online learning platforms work so you can decide if it’s the right learning pathway for you. 

How Online Learning Courses Work in Australia

When you enrol in an online course or program, you’ll typically access the course content through a Learning Management System (LMS) or online learning platform. This is like your virtual classroom, where you’ll find all the resources and activities you need to complete the course.

The course content is usually organised into modules or units, each focusing on a specific topic or theme. Within each module, you’ll find a variety of learning materials, such as:

  • Video lectures or tutorials
  • Reading materials (e.g., articles, e-books, or lecture notes)
  • Interactive elements (e.g., simulations, games, or virtual labs)
  • Discussion forums or chat rooms for interacting with your instructors and classmates
  • Quizzes and assessments to test your understanding and progress

As you work through the modules, you’ll typically need to complete various assignments and activities, such as:

  • Written assignments (e.g., essays, reports, or reflections)
  • Group projects or collaborative tasks
  • Presentations (recorded or live)
  • Practical exercises or case studies
  • Online exams or quizzes

The course may have set deadlines for completing each module and submitting assignments, or it may be self-paced, allowing you to work through the material at your own speed. Some courses may also include live online sessions, such as webinars or virtual classroom meetings, where you can interact with your instructors and classmates in real-time.

Throughout the course, you’ll typically have access to support services, such as:

  • Academic support (e.g., tutoring, writing assistance, or study skills workshops)
  • Technical support for navigating the learning platform and troubleshooting issues
  • Student services (e.g., career guidance, counselling, or disability support)

Upon completing the course or program, you may receive a certificate of completion, a digital badge, or a formal qualification, depending on the type of course and the institution offering it.

Online Learning Platforms Overview

Learning Management Systems (LMS)

If you’re studying online with an Australian university or college, chances are you’ll be using a Learning Management System (LMS). These platforms are like your online campus, where you can access course materials, participate in discussions, submit assignments, and even take exams. Popular LMS platforms in Australia include Blackboard, Moodle, and Canvas.

Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs)

MOOCs are a game-changer in the world of online learning. Platforms like Coursera, edX, and FutureLearn partner with top Australian universities to offer a wide variety of courses to learners worldwide. Whether you’re interested in computer science, business, arts, or anything in between, there’s a MOOC for you. Many MOOCs offer free online learning, or offer the option to pay for a verified certificate upon completion.

This coding fundamentals class is free on Coursera, but you can pay an optional $75 for a certificate upon completion.
This coding fundamentals class is free on Coursera, but you can pay an optional $75 for a certificate upon completion.
A screenshot of the learning backend for Coursera online courses.
A screenshot of the learning backend for Coursera online courses.

Private Online Course Providers

Looking for something more specific? Private online course providers like Online Courses Australia, Udemy, Skillshare, and LinkedIn Learning host courses created by industry experts and professionals. These platforms offer a wide range of topics, from aged care, to business & entrepreneurship, design, social media & marketing, personal development and more. 

You can enrol in unlimited courses at Online Courses Australia and access them via the Student Learning Lounge.

With online classes at OCA, you cannot progress to the next section without completing the previous classes. 

Some online course providers (like OCA) are CPD-endorsed, meaning you can learn new skills or expand your knowledge without pursuing a formal qualification. These courses have been approved by the Continuing Professional Development (CPD) Service, ensuring they meet high standards for quality and relevance to your professional growth. Some will also provide you with RPL credit (Recognition of Prior Learning) which you can put towards more formal qualifications.

Benefits of Online Learning

Online learning has revolutionised the way we acquire knowledge and skills. Let’s take a look at some of the key benefits of online courses. 

Flexibility and Convenience

One of the biggest perks of online learning is the flexibility it offers. You can learn at your own pace, on your own schedule, and from anywhere with an internet connection. Whether you’re a busy professional, a parent, or just someone with a packed calendar, online courses allow you to fit learning into your life without having to sacrifice other commitments.

Cost-Effectiveness Compared to Traditional Education

Another major benefit of online learning is its cost-effectiveness. Online courses often come with lower price tags than traditional on-campus programs. You can save money on things like transportation, textbooks, and even housing. Plus, many online learning platforms offer free or low-cost courses, making education more accessible to a wider range of people.

Access to a Wide Range of Courses and Programs

With online learning, the world is your oyster. You have access to a vast array of courses and programs from institutions and experts around the globe. Whether you want to learn a new language, pick up a technical skill, or even earn a degree, there’s an online course out there for you. The possibilities are endless!

Developing Digital Skills for the Future Workforce

In today’s digital age, having strong digital skills is more important than ever. By participating in online learning, you’re not only gaining knowledge in your chosen field but also developing valuable digital skills along the way. You’ll become familiar with various online tools, platforms, and communication methods that are essential in the modern workforce.

Online Learning Accreditation & Recognition in Australia

Online learning platforms in Australia offer different levels of accreditation and recognition in Australia. Here’s a brief table overview so you can compare the differences between platforms.

Australian Qualifications Framework (AQF)National system covering all qualifications in Australia from Certificate I to Doctoral Degree.Certificate IV in Aged Care Diploma of Business Administration Bachelor of NursingMaster of Psychology
Industry Specific CertificationsCertifications that meet industry standards for specific roles, often required by employers.Certified Practising Accountant (CPA) Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA) Certified Scrum Master (CSM)Australian Institute of Personal Trainers (AIPT) certification
Vendor Specific CertificationsOffered by companies to validate expertise in their products or technologies. Highly valued by employers using these specific products.Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert (MCSE)Google Ads CertificationAdobe Certified Expert (ACE)Salesforce Certified Administrator
Skills-Based CertificationsFocus on specific skills applicable across industries, demonstrating mastery in a particular area.Project Management Professional (PMP)Certified Digital Marketing Professional (CDMP) Certified Business Analysis Professional (CBAP)Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP)
Non-Accredited CPD-Endorsed Online CoursesNon-formal qualifications approved by the Continuing Professional Development (CPD) Service, often providing RPL credit towards formal qualifications.Allied Health Assistance Pathway CourseBusiness Management (Advanced Micro-Credential)Medical Reception and Terminology CourseVeterinary Assistant Pathway Course Personal Training and Nutrition Business Micro-Credential
Non-Accredited CoursesProvide knowledge and skills without leading to a formally recognized qualification, useful for personal or professional development.Short courses on Udemy or Coursera Industry expert workshops or seminarsOnline tutorials or bootcampsPersonal development courses by influencers or coaches

Future of Online Learning in Australia

It’s safe to say that online learning is not just a passing trend – it’s here to stay and will only keep improving. Here’s a quick look at what we can expect from the future of online learning platforms. 

Projected Growth and Trends

Online learning in Australia is set to boom in the coming years. More and more students are realising the benefits of flexible and accessible education options, so it’s no surprise that online courses and programs are becoming increasingly popular. Plus, with the rapid advancements in technology like AI and VR, online learning is going to be even more engaging and interactive. 

Integration with Traditional Classroom Learning (Blended Learning)

While online learning is fantastic, it doesn’t mean that traditional classroom learning will become obsolete. In fact, the future is likely to see a rise in blended learning approaches, where online learning is combined with face-to-face instruction. This way, students can enjoy the best of both worlds – the flexibility of online learning and the opportunity for in-person interaction and collaboration. 

Impact on the Australian Education System and Job Market

As online learning continues to grow and evolve, it’s bound to have an impact on the Australian education system and job market. With more students opting for online education, traditional institutions may need to step up their game and adapt their offerings to stay competitive. Plus, the skills and knowledge gained through online learning will shape the future workforce, potentially leading to exciting new job roles and industries.

The Future of Online Learning is Bright 

The future of online learning in Australia is looking promising, with plenty of opportunities for innovation, growth, and transformation. As technology continues to advance and student needs change, online learning will play an increasingly crucial role in shaping the educational landscape. 

Online Learning Courses FAQs

What is the best learning platform for online courses?

The “best” learning platform can vary depending on what you’re looking for. Platforms like Online Courses Australia, Coursera, Udemy, and LinkedIn Learning are popular because they offer a wide range of courses covering many subjects. For academic courses, you might consider platforms like edX or FutureLearn. In Australia, Open Universities Australia (OUA) provides access to courses from multiple Australian universities, all in one place.

Do you have to complete exams with online learning?

It depends on the course and institution. Some online courses may require you to complete exams to earn a certificate or degree, while others might assess your progress through assignments or projects. Typically, courses that are part of formal education programs (like degrees) will have exams.

Is all online learning accredited & recognised in Australia? 

Not all online learning is accredited. Accreditation depends on the provider and the course. For instance, courses that follow the Australian Qualifications Framework (AQF) are accredited. However, many non-accredited courses provide valuable skills and knowledge that can boost your career trajectory just as much as accredited courses.

Do employers value online learning courses? 

Yes! Many employers value online learning, especially when the courses are relevant to the job and provided by reputable institutions. Skills-based learning from recognised platforms can particularly stand out on your resume. At the end of the day, employers typically value the dedication and initiative it takes to enhance skills independently.