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How to be an effective online learner

On these pages you will find animated guidance on how to be an effective online learner. This will cover aspects of preparation, interaction and how to feel comfortable when accessing your live lectures and the technologies in use

As part of your study programme and access to learning materials, you will spend some of your time online. It is essential to make the most of your online learning opportunities and there are some basic tips to help you get this right.


1. Get organised

Before the semester begins, ensure you have the right equipment and technical capability to access the required course materials. Internet connectivity will be required to access online classes and an awareness of the systems being used will help build your confidence. Make sure you have accessed your online module space through the Blackboard virtual learning environment via the web address and login using your University ID and password. Give yourself ample time to familiarise yourself with the software applications being used to support your online study to minimise any stress before a session begins

2. Create a suitable space to study

Set up a dedicated physical learning environment for studying if possible. By completing your work repeatedly in this space, you’ll begin to establish a routine. We are all very different, with varying preferences for study. You may work best listening to music, while others need peace and quiet. Experiment to discover which type of setting boosts your productivity. Whether your workspace is your kitchen table or the corner booth in a local coffee shop, just make sure you have a strong internet connection to effectively access your online learning.

When choosing a workspace, try to limit distractions as much as possible, both physically and online. If you’re at home, you may find it helpful to resist the urge to turn on the television and logging out of any social media sites or apps that you have, to avoid distractions during your online lectures.

3. Figure out how you learn best

Once you’ve established where you’ll learn, think about when and how you accomplish your best work. If you’re a morning person, make time to study first thing, but if you often do your best work in the evening then set aside an hour or two after dinner. If you have children or have elderly relatives who require your morning and evening attention, try to carve out a study time that works for you.

Not everyone learns the same way, so think about what types of information help you best grasp new concepts and employ relevant study strategies. If you’re a visual learner, for example, print out transcripts of the video lectures to review. Learn best by listening? Make sure to build time into your schedule to play and replay recorded materials and video-based course content.

4. Make a schedule

Look at your timetable and make sure you are available to attend your online sessions. Commit to making your online coursework part of your weekly routine. Break up your workload into chunks by dedicating certain hours each week to reading, watching lectures, writing assignments, studying, and participating in conversational online chat with your peers. Set reminders for yourself to complete tasks and treat these blocks of time as seriously as you would a face-to-face lesson. Let others know you are unavailable during these times and regularly use the same space you have created for your study to begin to develop your routine. Set a timer and give yourself permission to move on to other tasks once the time is up.

5. Familiarise yourself with the technologies

You will use a range of technology throughout your study time and two essential tools you will use are Blackboard and Microsoft Teams. Blackboard is the virtual learning environment containing all the information about your study module and can be accessed through your study portal at Microsoft Teams will be used for the delivery of live lectures and conversational chat with your peers. The Teams link will be available through Blackboard and can also be accessed directly from

Video training guides on these two applications, along with many others, can be accessed from the Digital Skills pages on the Student Portal.

6. Use the Library Resources

Familiarise yourself with the online resources provided by the library and get to know your Subject guide which includes links to the library catalogue, referencing resources, reading lists, subject appropriate databases and more. Improve your online search skills by booking an Ask Your Librarian appointment or viewing our suite of help videos on the Library Skills page.

7. Be an active participant

Take initiative by accessing your online learning materials and connecting with your classmates and your academic tutor. During online classes using Microsoft Teams, you will have the ability to submit text chat messages and raise your hand to indicate you would like to speak. Technology offers many ways in which you can interact in a way that is comfortable for you. Students who take time to engage with their instructors and classmates also tend to have the most success in their classes. Some online learners feel more comfortable sharing their thoughts and opinions virtually rather than in the classroom. Online learning will provide you with the time needed to actively reflect and organise your thoughts before answering a question or making a comment.

8. Stay connected

Just because you aren’t physically in the same location, doesn’t mean you can’t get to know your fellow classmates. Build relationships with other students by introducing yourself and engaging in online discussion boards and chat. Make every effort to ask and answer questions to enhance your understanding of the course material and build a bond with other students.

9. Ask questions

The best online learners don’t hesitate to ask questions, by doing this you will avoid confusion, become more engaged with the content, broaden your knowledge, and deepen relationships with your classmates. The more engaged you are with your online learning the more enjoyable the experience will be.