Online learning

Advice and guidance on how to make the most of studying online. 

Familiarise yourself with key technology 

Throughout the academic year you will engage with your studies via a variety of virtual learning technologies. It’s important you take some time to familiarise yourself with these technologies to ensure you feel confident using them and ready to hit the ground running when term starts.

Blackboard Collaborate Ultra

Blackboard Collaborate Ultra is the webinar and virtual classroom platform used at UWE Bristol. It allows staff and students to communicate together in real-time and record webinars for you to review at a later date.

Blackboard Collaborate Ultra for students

Event Capture (Panopto)

The Event Capture system (Panopto) is another platform that allows us to record lectures, seminars and workshops.

Guidance for using Panopto

Pebblepad

You may be asked to create and submit work using the Pebblepad platform. This might take the form of a reflective portfolio or other online assessment.

Guidance for using Pebblepad

Microsoft Teams

Microsoft Teams is a teamwork hub and collaboration tool in Office 365 which allows you to work on group projects, discuss ideas or collaborate on files.

Using Microsoft Teams

Kaltura media

If you are required to submit video or audio as part of an assignment, your tutor might ask you to use Kaltura. Kaltura is a media platform that allows you to upload video and audio content from your desktop, or create media using screen capture and webcams.

Guidance for using Kaltura media

Blackboard

Blackboard is our Virtual Learning Environment. This is where you will find course information and timetables. Staff may upload lecture notes and course material to Blackboard. At times online assessments occur via Blackboard.

Student Blackboard guidance

Blackboard programme

Participating in webinars and studying with recordings 

A webinar can be an online presentation, lecture, workshop or seminar. These will normally take place through Blackboard Collaborate Ultra.

How to prepare for a webinar

  • Make sure you have completed the pre-reading for the session.
  • Find a quiet location to join your webinar.
  • Check that your computer is ready for you to successfully join the webinar.
  • It can take a while to connect to an online session, so give yourself plenty of time.

What to do during a webinar

  • Listen to how the webinar host intends to manage the session as this will let you know how interactive the webinar will be and whether it will be recorded.
  • Engage with others using the main communication tools.
  • Use the webinar text chat to interact with others and engage in real time discussions when prompted.
  • ‘Raise your hand’ if you have something you want to discuss or if you want to get the attention of others in the webinar.
  • Mute your microphone if you aren’t going to speak for long periods of time.

Learning from recordings

As well as webinar recordings you will also have access to other forms of recorded content via platforms such as LinkedIn Learning and Box of Broadcasts. These can take the form of videos and slides and downloadable content. The Library also has an extensive collection of films, documentaries, recorded theatre, and TV programmes, which can be watched online or borrowed free of charge. During your studies you might be asked to review one of these recordings or you might use it to support a particular assignment or project.

We recommend you review your recording in a quiet location and ideally on a laptop, as this will allow you to concentrate and take notes if needed. Read our guidance on how to make notes and read effectively.

Learning from recordings

As well as webinar recordings you will also have access to other forms of recorded content via platforms such as LinkedIn Learning and Box of Broadcasts. These can take the form of videos and slides and downloadable content. The Library also has an extensive collection of films, documentaries, recorded theatre, and TV programmes, which can be watched online or borrowed free of charge. During your studies you might be asked to review one of these recordings or you might use it to support a particular assignment or project.

We recommend you review your recording in a quiet location and ideally on a laptop, as this will allow you to concentrate and take notes if needed. Read our guidance on how to make notes and read effectively.

Using e-books 

You have access to thousands of e-books and other online reading material, on a variety of platforms through the UWE Bristol Library. These platforms offer a range of features to make e-books more accessible for disabled readers. We have some e-book accessibility guidance outlining which features are available and how to use them.

How to use e-books

Alternative formats and assistive technology 

When content is added to Blackboard, a tool called Blackboard Ally automatically provides it in an alternative format that suits you, from braille to audio. Here is some guidance on getting a learning resource in a different format.

UWE Bristol students with a print disability can also use our online file conversion tool to change documents into alternative formats. Find out how to create your own alternative format online.

We also have a variety of assistive technology to help support your studies.

Assistive software

Time management 

When studying at home it can be more difficult to manage your time effectively. Time management is all about prioritising your tasks to make sure you achieve them in the time you have.

Read our guidance on time management and try out our assignment planner to set some objectives. And why not read Chloe’s blog on how to organise your work and study at home.

Online communication 

Staying connected is important, not only to keep up with your studies but to avoid feeling lonely or isolated. If you are finding things difficult then please contact UWE Bristol health and wellbeing services.

Working with others and collaborating on projects is an important part of study and integral to your time as a student. And although online communication can present some challenges, it does have its benefits as well.

Ways to engage with others online

  • Participate in webinar and respond to a comment or discussion.
  • Participate in an online discussion forum on Blackboard.
  • Form an online study group.
  • Join in with virtual writing sprints such as @shutupwrite.
  • Have a one-to-one with your tutor on Teams or Blackboard.

Synchronous and asynchronous communication

You may have heard the terms synchronous and asynchronous being used to describe different types of online teaching materials and forms of communication.

  • Synchronous communication: this takes place in real-time in the present. You may be talking with others through various tools such as Zoom or taking part in a webinar via Blackboard or Microsoft Teams.
  • Asynchronous communication: This occurs when people communicate with each other at different times. Examples would include email and social media posting or you might receive messages through Blackboard.

Netiquette

Netiquette is the common name for the rules for acceptable online behaviour. Many of the same social rules that we would uphold in a classroom environment apply online such as, being respectful of others. Some rules however are particular to digital communication such as:

  • Think before you write. Anything you post is likely to remain online forever.
  • Avoid CAPS. Typing in capital letters is often associated with shouting and may give the impression that you are angry in an online conversation. It can also be difficult to read.
  • Think about how much information you put in a post. You may not want to overload it with multiple points that are difficult to respond to.
  • Use the 'raise your hand' function in Blackboard Collaborate or Teams to signal that you have something you would like to say verbally. 
  • Ask open-ended questions to tease out more information and keep the conversation going as it might not flow as freely online.

Working with others

You might be asked to work with others on a group project or assignment, such as a presentation. As with any group project, it’s important listen to each member of the group and establish the roles and tasks taken on by each member. Read our guidance on working with others.

When collaborating online we recommend you set up a shared document to work from to allow you to work on files together. Microsoft's own guidance on best practices for collaborating with Office 365.

Online assessments 

Depending on the course you are studying, you will be expected to submit material for assessment in a variety of digital formats.

Online assessments in Blackboard

Online assessment in Blackboard covers things to be aware of before submitting. Two examples, consider anonymity or the word count policy.

Submitting assignments through Blackboard

Your module tutor will tell you what format they want you to use when submitting work. This will be different for different subjects.

For required assignment submissions to Blackboard, follow submitting assignments through Blackboard guidance.

If you are asked to submit hand-written or hand-drawn material as part of an assessment, download our student guidance for home exams.

Submitting assignments using Pebblepad

You may need to create and submit work using the Pebblepad platform. This could take the form of a reflective portfolio or other online assessment.

Pebblepad guidance for students

Resizing files

Sometimes you may need to attach or submit a document where there is a limit on the file size it can accept. Read this article on how to check the size of a file and compress images

To submit a very large file (over 100 MB) you will need to use an alternative approach using your UWE Microsoft OneDrive. A video guide is available for zipping, uploading to One Drive, sharing and submitting.

Avoiding plagiarism

SafeAssign is a coursework originality checker provided by Blackboard. It helps identify plagiarism by detecting unoriginal content in student submissions. It compares student submissions to internet resources, articles and other students' submissions.

Support is available on how to avoid plagiarism.

Completing exams at home 

You might also be asked to complete exams at home. Here are some tips to help you.

Before your exam:

  • revise as normal, look at past exam papers and make a revision timetable
  • use online study groups to revise with friends and support each other
  • check your exam timetable and don’t ignore notifications from your programme leader as timings and details might change
  • ensure you understand the exam requirements such as, the format, timing expectations, submission requirements and other technical needs.

On the day:

  • check you have the technology you need such as, access to Blackboard and wifi connection
  • some exams will have a 24-hour completion period but we recommend you try to complete the exam in the original time frame
  • whatever the time constraints, have a clock nearby.

After the exam:

  • give yourself some time to relax and then move on to your next assessment.

Further guidance on preparing for your assessment