Studying online during COVID-19

  • The first and most important thing is to look after yourself and do what feels safe and right for you. You are more important than a deadline or online lecture, which can sound obvious but is really worth repeating and reminding yourself.

    Your lecturers are trying to modify your course during fast changing circumstances; they are on your side. The good news is you are probably used to doing some online learning already as part of your course, so you have some existing experiences and strategies that you can adapt. 

    Our top tips

    Be safe and well online

    All Brookes students can access an online course called Digital Capabilities for Students, which covers a wide range of issues including how to keep your data safe online and measures to ensure that technology becomes part of your solution, not your problem.

    Prepare for some differences

    Whatever your level of experience or confidence with online learning, it is likely that there will be some differences as courses are speedily modified. This Twitter thread has some great practical advice:

    Also you can book an online one-to-one session with a friendly Upgrade tutor to talk through any changes to your learning and assessment strategies:

    At Brookes, it is likely that most of your lectures and seminars will be moved to online videos and materials to access in your own time. This guide has good suggestions for learning from recordings (University of Hull).

    Although there are some changes to how you're studying, it is important to remember that your work still needs to be genuinely your own, and the principles of Academic Integrity still apply. Look at this page to check your understanding:

    Structure your time

    Regular classes and lectures gave a structure to your day. Online learning may involve much more unstructured time, plus resources to access whenever you want. It’s good to create a structure for yourself and keep motivated by changing between modules or types of learning task. Try using the Pomodoro Technique to break up the day into 25 minute bursts with regular breaks:

    For more on using online tools for productivity, log in to the ‘Be Organised’ section of Brookes Digital Capabilities for Students course on Moodle.

    Access and tech difficulties

    Whilst your lecturers are trying their best to make any online materials as accessible as possible, it may not always work well for everyone. Do let your lecturer know if you don’t have the necessary technology or internet access, and you can work together to find an alternative. It’s likely that other people are in a similar situation and letting people know will help speed up finding a solution. For any smaller-scale problems, the IT Service Desk is a good place to start:

    Digital capabilities

    Brookes is a Google organisation so knowing the basics of how to use Google Apps and G Suite is a good place to begin. If you don’t feel confident with using technology or if you’d like to be more effective online, it is worth exploring the Brookes’ Digital Capabilities for Students course on Moodle. Knowing how to navigate new and familiar technologies will help make your online learning more efficient and enjoyable.

    Accessing resources

    Thousands of e-books and online journal articles are available through Brookes Library, and you can limit your Library searches to only material available full text online. Help with finding and accessing e-books is available on the Library Web site as is help with finding books, journals and articles, and with referencing. The Library's Live Help service (pink speech bubble on the Library home page) is available as usual, with extended hours including time at weekends. The Academic Liaison Librarians for your course are available by email and in many cases can also do video 1-2-1s on Google Meet if you need help. It's also worth following @BrookesLibrary on Twitter  if you are a Twitter user, as well as any other social media accounts your Academic Liaison Librarian uses, to keep updated.

    Keep communicating

    Online learning often involves multiple ways of communicating. Three key principles are: 1) Be patient - although you’re online, it may not mean an instant response, especially at busy times; 2) Be professional - remember the people behind the screens and adopt the same respect as you would in a face-to-face meeting; 3) Be proactive - we can’t pick up confused faces or other body language as easily online so your lecturer won’t see you’re puzzled if you don’t let them know. Here are 10 more good rules to remember when communicating online:

    You can also explore how to be professional online as part of the Digital Capabilities for Students course.

    Managing uncertainty

    It can be an unsettling time and people may not have the answers you want immediately. You can help manage uncertainty by looking at trusted sources of information such as University emails, as opposed to speculating or listening to rumours. It can also help to use your problem-solving skills to find possible solutions, e.g: the link to the online reading material is broken? Try searching for the article directly in the Library catalogue. If you are feeling overwhelmed or anxious, there are people to help - contact Wellbeing or your Student Support Coordinator.

    Also Wellbeing have collated good advice and useful resources for maintaining your mental health during the outbreak.

    Possible changes to assessments

    A common area of uncertainty at the moment is possible changes to assessments. Prevent any confusion by updating your calendars and notifications with any deadline changes as soon as you get them. We have some guides to help with new formats for assessments:

    A main source of all information for exams is the Exams website:

    And remember you can always book an Upgrade tutorial to discuss how to approach new tasks.  

    Good enough is good enough

    It is totally understandable that you may have other priorities at this time and your studying environment at home may not be ideal. Your lecturers are in similar situations and will understand. If in doubt, try making a start and do the best you can given the circumstances, and be kind to yourself.