Inaugural head of virtual campus announced

Monday 28 Jul 2014

Head of CSU's Virtual Campus, Associate Professor Philip HiderCharles Sturt University (CSU) has appointed the inaugural head of its Virtual Campus to help create a stronger sense of community for students studying online.

Head of CSU's School of Information Sciences Associate Professor Philip Hider has accepted the position as Head of the University's Virtual Campus, which includes about 24 000 students studying away from the University's physical campuses.

"Charles Sturt University has more online students than any other Australian university and has been a leading provider of distance education for many years," Professor Hider said.

"Modern tertiary education is about the students, it's about accommodating their needs, which vary enormously in the complicated world that we live in.

"Our students invest much time and money to study at Charles Sturt University, and many balance this investment with many other commitments. They are typically mature aged with careers, partners and families and mortgages. They are the 'life-long learning' generation.

"They rightly expect value for their investment. And that means more than just lots of information that they could Google. They expect a quality experience."

Professor Hider believes modern technology allows CSU to build much stronger and closer relationships with distance students than was possible in the past, when course content was sent out by mail and interaction with lecturers was restricted to short residential schools, telephone tutorials and mail.

"There's no reason why our distance students shouldn't feel as though they're as much part of a vibrant academic community as do our internal students," he said.

"Through these technologies such as email, online lectures and Skype, students can meet and work with everyone in this community as they would in person. And it's everyone: their classmates and lecturers as well as course directors, learning skills advisors, librarians, administrators, counsellors, career advisors, and students and lecturers in all other courses, schools and faculties.

"We want to ensure that our online students are not just connected to all these people, but that they also share a sense of community, a sense of being on the Virtual Campus."

Professor Hider is keenly aware of student requirements of tertiary education in the 21st century.

"The School of Information Studies educates around 60 per cent of library and information science graduates in Australia, all exclusively via distance education, and we have done this for many years. We currently have 2 000 students, from undergraduate level all the way through to Masters and PhD. They live across NSW, Victoria and Queensland and around Australia, as well as Canada, the Middle East, the United Kingdom and Hong Kong.

"Many of our lecturers also work away from our physical campuses. We currently have staff based in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Perth, as well as on University campuses in Wagga Wagga, Albury and Canberra."This dispersed situation is successful because of the communication technology we use. The school even has its own island in

Second Life



Media contact: Wes Ward, 0417 125 795

Media Note:
Contact CSU Media to arrange interviews with inaugural Head of CSU’s Virtual Campus, Associate Professor Philip Hider.