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Academic literacies Digital literacies Skills Team

Studying remotely and effectively

Getting your set-up right

When studying remotely the first thing you need to do before anything is get everything set up correctly.

  • You may have to download specific software, so check in good time any information and instructions you have been sent. If you are using a mobile device, you may need to download the app from your app store.
  • For online lectures/meetings you will need to be able to hear the other person, so make sure the device you are using has speakers or you can attach headphones. Check these are enabled in the settings and ensure that you have not muted them.
  • If you use an online calendar, plan out your day and add events and put webinar links you are sent into the location or the notes section. If you do this, you then aren’t looking back in your email inbox to find it later on.
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Webinars

A webinar is an online event hosted by an organization/company (University) and broadcast to a group of individuals through their computers via the Internet. There are some differences to be aware of depending on the type of webinar.

In smaller group webinars you can use your microphone and webcam to participate verbally. Some platforms also feature a hands-up button that you can click on to show that you want to contribute. This is also useful for medium-sized groups and avoids everyone talking at once and in these, you can also type into chat windows. Chat windows are the place to ask questions, share short thoughts and links to web pages and documents. They don’t always automatically open on some platforms – so look for the word ‘chat’ or something like a speech bubble icon.

For larger webinars, it is less practical for everyone to participate verbally and so this option often isn’t available. Therefore, your main way of contributing is via the chat window. The presenter could also ask you to answer some questions where you need to type into the chat window, or you may want to use it to ask them questions. Another common feature of these larger webinars could be polls which a presenter may use if they want an opinion on something, they could ask you to vote in a poll.

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Online collaboration

When working collaboratively it is useful to have online meetings to make decisions, divide tasks and share progress. You may need to initially get in contact via email or Canvas messages or some other platform. There are two common types of online meeting.

Synchronous meetings mean you will all be logged in talking at the same time using things like Skype, FaceTime, Zoom and Google Hangouts. Again to make the most of these meetings, you will need speakers and a microphone. You can also share webcams which may make communication feel more natural. Although for those more shy amongst you they may just want to text type which is fine.

Asynchronous meetings mean everyone will contribute at different times. Technologies like Canvas messages, Whatsapp, Facebook Messenger and iMessage all do this. Others in your group may prefer these kinds of meetings depending on their commitments.

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Collaborative workspaces

If you are working on a project together, it can help to have a space where you can share files or work at the same time. The University provides you with a Box account which has lots of storage. Simply log in at box.hull.ac.uk to set up your account and then connect to your University of Hull Box.

Other options include Google Drive and Microsoft Office’s OneDrive. With Google Drive and OneDrive, you can not only store files in the same place, but you can edit them together in real-time.

Using collaborative workspaces

When using a collaborative workspace you need to ensure you share content with everyone in your group. Once you’ve uploaded files select the relevant folder and choose the ‘share’ option. You will usually need everyone’s email address to set this up. After this everyone should be able to add their files and notes into the same area.

It is really important to communicate effectively and professionally and make sure you can communicate effectively and that everyone has a role and takes responsibility for doing what is required. Any decisions that are made, should be recorded and everyone in the group should stick to them. 

Time management

Working remotely means you will have to manage your time effectively and whilst time management is very personal and works differently depending on the person, there are some principles that are common to all. These principles include organisation, prioritisation, focus and self-discipline.

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Organise

Immense amounts of time gets wasted, and deadlines are missed if you are not at least reasonably well organised. Use a diary or a calendar. This can be paper or online, but you must use it consistently. Enter any deadlines you have and all unmovable tasks like lectures, tutorials, lab work, part-time work, volunteering, sports commitments, child-care, and family.

Prioritise and Focus

Some things are more important than others. They don’t have to be done first – but they need time allocating to them first. Assessed work is a good example but it depends on your circumstances. You may have other responsibilities maybe you need to juggle study with looking after family members.

Staying focused when working remotely is probably one of the more difficult challenges for some so here are some tips on staying focused.

  • Avoiding social media – apps that block social media sites, turn off notifications.
  • Environment – Choose or create an environment that is free of distractions. You could consider the Library or a dedicated workspace at home maybe even a Coffee shop as some people work well in the kind of environment.
  • Time of Day – Different people focus better at different times of the day. Morning is actually when we are most productive and at our best, and when we will likely do our best work.
  • Self-discipline – sometimes there is nothing else you can do but just be disciplined and understand now is a time for work.

Stay social

Working remotely can sometimes be isolating and lonely so make sure you keep in touch with your fellow students and friends. The conversation doesn’t have to be study-related it is important just to interact socially with others. If you have never used one of these tools or applications before, signing up will help you keep in touch with others using the same platform.

You don’t have to just talk with friends you could also take the opportunity to make new connections. Check out these online communities to meet like-minded people or other students and researchers.

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Categories
Digital literacies Skills Team TechItUpTuesday

Introducing University systems

#TechItUpTuesday

Canvas

Canvas is the University of Hull’s virtual learning environment (VLE) and it is used to support you in completing your course. The site provides you with access to your grades, module materials, resources and files as well as allowing you to send messages. It is also where you will submit the majority of your assignments. Canvas is also available as an app and if you need help with anything just email help@hull.ac.uk with your problem.

Accessing Canvas

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On-campus PCs

Log on to an open access PC anywhere on campus. Next, open the browser and select Canvas VLE from the homepage, it will automatically log you into Canvas and your dashboard will be displayed.

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Laptops and off-campus PCs

Open a browser and go to canvas.hull.ac.uk. After this, you will then be asked to sign in using your 6-digit University of Hull username and password.

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Mobile Devices

Simply search for Canvas in your app store and select the Canvas Student app. It will then ask for your school where you will type the University of Hull and it will take you to the Single Sign-On Service. Login here with your 6-digit username and password.

Using Canvas

Canvas provides its own Student Guide which will tell you almost everything you need to know. The University has also created guides on using Canvas which you can view as part of the Skills Guides but I will briefly go over some aspects of Canvas now.

Assignments

Probably the most important aspect of Canvas is for submitting assignments. When starting a new module you can view your assignments using the Assignments tab. This will take you to the page listing all of the assignments for your module. You can see when they are due and all of the information required for the assignment. The Canvas Student Guide and the University Skills Guides provide you with full instructions on submitting your assignments.

Profile and Notifications

You can adjust your Notification Preferences via the Settings link. This will ensure that you are kept up to date on everything happening in your courses. It’s also possible to add more information to your profile such as an image or other contact details. This isn’t necessary but it is a useful way to recognise other students and academic staff,

Navigation

When logging in you will first see The Dashboard which will help you see what is happening in all your courses. You can also control the courses you see on your dashboard by:

  • Clicking Courses on the Canvas navigation panel
  • Clicking All courses at the bottom
  • Clicking the star beside the name of a course to add or remove it from your Dashboard

The Global Navigation Menu (pictured to the left) is also useful for navigating and is located on the left side of every page in Canvas. The Global Navigation links provide quick access to frequently used Canvas features.

University email

All students and staff have a University email account and it is important to regularly check this account as your tutors, the University, and sometimes other students will use it to contact you. If you are a new student and do not have an account for some reason you can go to the university help desk on-site at the university and they should be able to help. Alternatively, you could also let the university know of your issue via the support portal.

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Accessing your university email

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On-campus PCs

Log on to an open access PC anywhere on campus. Open the Chrome browser and select email from the homepage. The sign-in page will open and then you can use your 6-digit username and password to sign in. It should remember this after the first time.

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Laptops and off-campus PCs

Open a browser and go to mail.hull.ac.uk. Then simply sign in as before and again it should remember you.

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Mobile devices

If you want, you can add your university email account to your mobile phone or Tablet. The Email User Guides on the ICT SharePoint will provide you with instructions based on your operating systems. 


Email etiquette

Both as a student and in the workplace email etiquette is very important, so you should take care with how you write and use your email. Here are some useful tips:

  • Add a subject name and ensure it is meaningful.
  • Be concise and to the point no one wants to read an endless email
  • Don’t type in all capitals
  • If you receive an email sent to a group, don’t use Reply All unless you really need everyone to see your reply.
  • Include a signature of your name with a contact number.
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I hope this has been helpful especially for you first-year students. Be sure to check out next week’s article on the JISC digital capabilities tool.