Preparing for online learning
“Sometimes having a lot of independence in your learning can lead to procrastination. It helps me to remember that there are a variety of learning methods you can use when you are studying e.g. reading and absorbing, answering questions and past papers, flashcards, online videos –don’t give up”
Second-year Business studies student
Make a schedule
Create a study space
Learn to avoid distractions
Learn how to make notes
Second-year Media student
What will online teaching be like?
Online teaching sessions will enable you to remain connected with your module convenor, seminar tutors and class-mates. Here are six examples of online teaching you can expect:
- Pre-recorded teaching and live online teaching
- Learning through Canvas with clear direction on how to interact with the activities
- Discussion Forums. These can either be structured and facilitated by your module tutors, or be used as a means of peer to peer interaction
- Quizzes – used to check your progress
- Module Chat – academics may run office hours using this function in Canvas
- Direct messaging through Canvas or via email with academics.
Three-step guide to participating in online learningYour school will provide you with more specific guidance on how you will need to participate in your online learning and details about what online teaching you can expect but here are three things you can start with:
1. PrepareIt is likely that your convenor or tutor will set a specific activity to be completed within the webinar. This may be a discussion or debate about a specific topic or reading. If so, the activity will be communicated in advance. Complete any preparatory reading and/or activities to ensure that you can get the most out of the session.
2. Test your technologyPreparation includes testing your equipment to be sure that there are no technical barriers to your participation. Find out what equipment and technology you will need for learning online. Even if you are familiar with the webinar system and you have used the same device previously, it is worth testing that you can access the webinar room. Try logging in at least 15 minutes before the session starts, using the device you plan to use. This will make sure that there are no last-minute technical issues that might result in you missing the opening of the session. You can use the extra time to chat with your peers.
3. Actively participateBe an active participant. If the group is asked to give an opinion, to vote, or to comment, make sure you respond. But remember to stay on topic. Most online conferencing tools have a chat box where you can also ask questions during the session. If you have questions, do not be afraid to ask them. If you are not speaking, ‘mute’ your microphone to stop background noise distracting other participants. You can reduce external distractions by turning off other devices and on-screen notifications from other applications.
"When everything is online, you need to have the discipline to sit down and say, "I am going to work on this," and the dedication to be able to follow through. Though you can be flexible as to when you choose to complete your work during the week, you should be careful to not put it off indefinitely."
Second-year Psychology student
Checklist - Are you ready for online learning?
- Are you ‘online ready'?
Find out how to get on to the University’s wifi and set up the internet on your phone or computer, visit the Student Hub Get online page. If there is any reason why you will find it difficult to engage in online teaching (e.g. poor Wi-Fi connection; don't have a digital device; don't have the right software), notify your school office as soon as possible. They will refer you to the right member of staff.
- Can you set up a study space wherever you are joining from?
This should be free of distractions, but you may wish to have home comforts (tea, snacks) within reach so you are able to settle in and stay motivated. You can read more about dealing with distractions on Skills Hub.
- Have you created a schedule?
Create a daily timetable for yourself, including study breaks, as well as the online teaching sessions. You can find useful resources to help plan your time on the Skills Hub.
- Are you able to communicate with your tutors and peers?
Make use of online communication methods in Canvas such as module chat and discussion forums. These are an excellent way to immerse yourself in online learning, and they will make the learning experience more active and more engaging (and maybe even more enjoyable).
- Do you know who to contact for support?
If you don't, familiarise yourself with the support available from your school and student services on the Student Hub.