ignite: a guide to studying online

Posted by nm365 at Sep 17, 2020 09:30 AM |
What to expect and top tips to support you to succeed in your studies.
ignite: a guide to studying online

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We have designed ignite to provide you with a robust and high-quality University learning experience during the current pandemic. We have used our experience in delivering excellent campus and online learning to ensure that we fully support your studies, while keeping everyone safe and well. Throughout the year we will monitor government guidance and adjust our programmes as needed to ensure we respond to any changes in the situation.

We expect a lot of your learning and teaching to take place online at first, but some small group teaching and other activities will take place on campus, face-to-face, in COVID-safe environments. As the year goes on, we hope it will become possible for more of your teaching to happen on campus.

Your academic school has worked over the summer to review and redesign your degree programme to make sure your education can continue smoothly, however the situation around us unfolds. This means we need a flexible approach, and it also means that some aspects of your learning will look a little different from what you may be used to.

We have a lot of experience of distance learning at Leicester, so we know that when we provide lectures and seminars online, they often work best in slightly different formats or in shorter chunks of time. This will all be explained in detail on your module homepage in Blackboard (our online learning environment) when term starts, but this brief introduction will provide you with more information on what your learning experience will be like this semester.

Teaching types and activities

Each of your modules will have a weekly schedule, that contains different types of teaching event:

  • ‘Live’ sessions online: these will be scheduled in your timetable, but instead of a room on campus, you’ll be directed to the relevant Blackboard site where you will find guidance on how to join the session online. These are sometimes called ‘synchronous’ events, where the tutor and students will be online together at the same time.
  • Face to face small group sessions on campus: these events will also appear in your timetable, along with a room number, just as they normally would. You’ll need to wear a face covering to attend, and the room will be laid out to ensure social distancing. You should follow all guidance on safety on campus at all times.
  • Asynchronous or independent learning: your module site on Blackboard will also contain learning activities and materials that you will be expected to engage with during the week, in between the ‘live’ (online and face to face) events, at times and places that work for you.

In a typical week, you will have:

1. Fixed sessions (that have a specific time and place). These will be in your timetable, and may include:

  • live lectures
  • labs
  • seminars
  • workshops/problem classes/etc
  • tutorials or tutor meetings

To begin with, these will be mostly online (accessed through Microsoft Teams and Blackboard Collaborate) with a few taking place on campus. As safety allows, more sessions will take place on campus.

2. Flexible activities (that you can complete in your own time and place). You may find some of these in your timetable, but you can choose to complete them at another time. They may include:

  • Watching/listening to or reading prepared lectures, podcasts, slides or other materials from your module tutor.
  • Readings, links to publications, case studies, examples and other learning materials.
  • Discussions, activities, home practicals, tests.
  • Guidance for widening and deepening your learning, through further reading, study and activities (termed ‘guided independent study’).
  • Information about the assessment for your module, and how you can prepare for it.

All of this material will be structured and provided for you on your Blackboard module page, curated and regularly updated by your module tutor.

How you will be learning

Study advice

Some of the learning materials, approaches and platforms will be familiar to you, but some will be new. At University you get structure and guidance from your academic school on the module activities that have been planned for you, but you also need to engage in guided independent study in your own time. We know that you might have other commitments such as family, caring or part-time work, or limited access to a digital device, so we have designed many aspects of your programme to provide you with the flexibility to fit them around this.

There is a lot of support available to help you make the most of University study, and to help you organise your own study pattern. You will receive guidance and study support from your school during induction and throughout the semester; and you can also access guidance and support at any time from our Academic Skills Centre. We have also developed a digital learning guide.

We think you will find it helpful if you plan to work out the following in the first few weeks of term:

  • Once you have your timetable and Blackboard module site, devise a weekly study timetable that works for you. Build in frequent breaks and changes of activity to keep you focused.
  • Take advantage of any support sessions or materials offered by your school and access the Academic Skills Centre resources.
  • Familiarise yourself with the online environments and tools you’ll be using, download the MyUoL University student app, and become familiar with your timetable and Blackboard module sites as they become available.

Studying with others

Although you may be initially be studying online frequently, collaboration and community are important parts of your learning experience. You will have the opportunity to meet other students and your tutors online in live discussion sessions, in small socially distanced groups on campus, and through discussion boards. The Students’ Union will also be providing online activities, societies and groups. Make the most of these events to ask questions about your study, share ideas, and solve any concerns you might have.

You may also belong to safe ‘bubbles’ in your own accommodation (University halls or private accommodation) and be able to use some spaces on campus to work together safely, following the latest Government and University advice.

We hope you will enjoy your studies and have fun in the next semester, protecting yourself and our communities at all times.

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