Online Learning

Business, Economics and Finance student, Debbie Andrews, talks us through her experience of Online Learning

Welcome to my second blog, this time I want to share my experiences with online learning here at the university.

Like millions of other people across the world, in order to continue with my everyday activities, I have had to accept that things need to be different for now.

For my University course this meant online learning. Face to face teaching stopped on Friday 20th March and for me online started on the Monday at 9:15am with a lecture!

I started preparing for this blog by writing a list of the positives and negatives of my online learning experience. I was surprised how hard it was to find negatives. Of course, I miss my friends, the chats we had, the canteen and the feel of being in the University, but not having these things does not effect, my learning directly. So, I ended with a list of mainly positives.

For me, live lectures and seminars were delivered through blackboard collaborate. As all my assignments, reading lists and module announcements are already delivered through this system, I found it clear and easy to join online lessons. The University had sent out lots of instructions in advance anyway.

In lessons lecturers combined talking directly to the class with PowerPoint presentations and using the illustrate function to draw graphs and the like.  To stop too much interference from background noise all student microphones are usually muted by the lecturer while they are talking. A lot of noise would have come from my home. One of the few downsides of online learning for me was all the distractions going on in my house. After the first week I moved where I learnt away from everyone else, this improved my listening and focus.

Even with microphones all muted, you can raise your hand to ask a question. Blackboard Collaborate has this facility built in and alerts the lecturer, to pause the teaching. Questions can be typed so the whole class can see or, if you have one, the microphone can be unmuted for use.

Seminars are usually a combination of teaching, discussion and activities. With the start of online seminars, the format continued just the same, with one difference. In class you sit with who you want and work on activities with them, online the lecturer controls the ‘breakout groups.’ Consequently, I have worked with so many different people, and expanded who I know in my classes. During breakout groups, just like class, conversation inevitably wandered away from the set task. We talked about where we were in the world, our lockdown experiences, and hopes for the summer. I am sure the lecturers expected this because, just like in class, they periodically joined the group to check on our progress. I found the experience very positive and lifted my spirits. Also, I thought of it as good preparation for being at work, with the boss selecting employees from different areas to collaborate in a team to achieve a goal.

At the end of a class the lecturer does not just leave virtually.  Students can hang back, stay online, and talk directly to the lecturer. Which was great for me when I wanted to discuss an assignment.

So overall I have found my online learning experience positive. I have gained skills that I feel can be transferred to a work situation, such as taking part in online meetings. I have adapted, met new people, improved my listening skills and, most of all, been able to carry on my learning.

Speak to you Soon!