Introduction

Welcome to the course! Learning Online: Essential Skills for Success provides an orientation to online learning for higher education students. You may be new to learning online, or you may want to improve your online study skills. This course will offer practical advice on being an online learner, as well as guidance on how to get the most out of your studies.

In recent years universities and institutions have reconsidered their offerings, with many developing courses that are either partly or fully online. As circumstances change and technologies continue to evolve and improve, it is becoming increasingly important to have the understanding and tools necessary to succeed in an online learning environment.

Whatever your level of experience, the positive advice offered in this course will help you recognise and explore the huge potential of studying online.

Learning outcomes

By the end of this module, you should be able to:

  • Identify the various types of online learning, and the different ways in which online learning and face-to-face learning can be combined
  • Navigate an online learning environment (such as a virtual learning environment (VLE) or learning management system (LMS))
  • Explain what will be expected of you as an online learner and the qualities you will need to succeed
  • Evaluate your own readiness for online learning and identify where to seek advice if necessary
  • Understand how to stay safe online and conduct yourself appropriately in an online learning environment
  • Develop strategies for protecting your health and wellbeing and combating isolation.

Using the module

Learning Online: Essential Skills for Success is designed as an orientation to online learning for higher education students, with an emphasis on developing the skills needed to succeed in an online learning environment.

If this is the first time you have accessed the Learning Online: Essential Skills for Success course, or if you need a brief reminder, here is some information on how the screens are organised, and some of the tools and features that are used throughout:

Content

  • The centre of each screen contains the core content for each course; this is presented either as text, interactive activities, graphics or videos
  • Text highlighted in a box preceded by an arrow contains instructions on how to navigate the activities that follow
  • Terms highlighted like this are clickable glossary terms, and can be clicked on to access pop-up boxes containing definitions of key terms
  • Note that your responses to the notemaking and text entry activities (for which you type responses in the spaces provided) can be printed and used as part of your ongoing work.

Pods

Throughout this programme, you will see additional learning opportunities in 'pods'. Exploring the information provided in the pods will enrich the learning experience.

  • Students say: Quotes from students linked to the main content on the screen.
  • Useful links: Links to organisations or other resources to support learning.
  • Download: Downloadable documents that complement and reinforce the key learning.
  • Additional information: Complementary information that builds on and enhances the information contained in the main part of the screen.
  • Finding support: Advice on where you can go to seek further support on the areas discussed in the course.
  • Your context: Advice on where to seek local support and information.
  • Glossary: Access to a document containing a list of glossary definitions used in the course.

Expert panel

Reviewers

Eleanor Loughlin

Eleanor Loughlin is Manager of the Academic Skills Programme at Durham University, UK, and provides training and support to students on skills development. She has conducted research and published on academic and employability skills development, studying online and the transition to university.


Anthony Payne

Anthony Payne is Director of Student Services at the University of Bath. His research interests have included inclusive education, the health needs of disadvantaged communities and using student engagement research to drive equality within higher education.


Jakob Sexton

Jakob Sexton is the Student Association President at The University of Law and a member of the university's Academic Board. In this role, Jakob ensures that students can be represented at all levels of the university, making their voices heard in the university's decision-making process.


Claire Thomson

Claire Thomson is Head of the Centre for Enhancement in Learning and Teaching (CELT) at Bishop Grosseteste University, offering strategic leadership and management in the areas of learning, teaching and student engagement. Claire's research interest is in the area of learning and teaching in higher education and the development of new methodologies for the delivery of effective and engaging learning, teaching and assessment.


Dr Emma Young

Emma is Head of Student Success Services at the University of Bradford, where she manages the Language Centre, Academic Skills Advice, and Student Experience and Success teams. She focuses on projects supporting student transition, student mental health and wellbeing, and support for care-experienced, estranged and carer students. Emma has researched and published in the areas of student transition into higher education, peer-assisted learning, and students' emotional wellbeing.


Acknowledgements

We would like to acknowledge the contributions of the following authors, from whose work some of the course content has been derived.

Nicola Barden

Nicola Barden has worked in higher education student support since 1991, focusing on the counselling and mental health aspects of wellbeing before taking on a broader role in 2013 as Director of Student Services at the University of Winchester. She retired from this post in December 2018, and published a book, Student Mental Health and Wellbeing in Higher Education: A practical guide, with her co-editor, Ruth Caleb, in September 2019. She continues an active association with the university as a Professional Services Fellow. Nicola is the author of the 'Study-life balance' module in Being Well, Living Well.


Emma Bond

Emma Bond is Director of Research, Head of the Graduate School, and Professor of Socio-Technical Research at the University of Suffolk. She has extensive research experience focusing on online risk and vulnerable groups, especially in relation to domestic abuse, revenge pornography, sexual abuse, and image-based abuse. Emma has 20 years' teaching experience on social science undergraduate and post-graduate courses, has worked as a PhD supervisor, and is a Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy. Her research on virtual environments, mobile technologies, and risk has attracted national and international acclaim. Emma is the co-author of the 'Online safety' module in Being Well, Living Well.


Laurie P. Dringus, Ph.D

Laurie P. Dringus, Ph.D., is a Professor in the College of Computing and Engineering at Nova Southeastern University. Her research interests include human–computer interaction, information design, and usability. She has published widely, writing several articles and delivering presentations related to the research, design, development, and evaluation of online learning environments. She is a Fellow of the Online Learning Consortium. Laurie is the US author of the 'Studying Online: A guide for students' module in Teaching Online.


Eleanor Loughlin

Eleanor Loughlin is Manager of the Academic Skills Programme at Durham University, UK, and provides training and support on developing the skills students need to succeed at university. She has researched and published on academic and employability skills development, studying online and the transition to university. Eleanor is author of the 'Introduction to Student Skills' module in Academic Success: Skills for Learning, Skills for Life.


Andy Phippen

Andy Phippen is a Professor of Digital Rights at Bournemouth University and a Visiting Professor at the University of Suffolk. He has specialised in the use of ICTs in social contexts for over 15 years, carrying out grassroots research on issues such as attitudes toward privacy and data protection, internet safety, and contemporary issues such as sexting, peer abuse, and the impact of digital technology on wellbeing. He has presented evidence to parliamentary inquiries related to the use of ICTs in society, and is a frequent media commentator on these issues. Andy is the co-author of the 'Online safety' module in Being Well, Living Well.


Andrew Reeves

Andrew Reeves is a Registered Social Worker, BACP Senior Accredited Counsellor/Psychotherapist and Associate Professor in the Counselling Professions and Mental Health at the University of Chester, with 35 years' clinical experience. He previously worked for nearly 20 years in a university setting as a Senior Counsellor. He has published widely on working with risk and student support issues around mental health. He is Director of Colleges and Universities for the Charlie Waller Memorial Trust, and is actively involved with colleges and universities across the UK looking at student mental health. Andrew is the author of the 'Studying Well' module in Being Well, Living Well.


Rhona Sharpe

Rhona Sharpe is Professor and Head of the Oxford Centre for Staff and Learning Development at Oxford Brookes University. She and her team run workshops, online courses, and offer consultancy for higher education institutions across the UK and internationally. She is also an Associate Lecturer for the Institute of Educational Technology at the UK Open University and a Visiting Professor at Edge Hill University. Rhona's interest in the role of technology in learning led her to direct a number of learner experience projects, which culminated in the creation of the ELESIG (Evaluation of Learners' Experiences of E-learning) community. She is a Senior Fellow of the Staff and Educational Development Association, a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy and a National Teaching Fellow. Rhona is the UK author of the 'Studying Online: A guide for students' module in Teaching Online.


Accessibility advisor

Wilma Alexander

Wilma Alexander

Wilma Alexander is a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy with Master's degrees in Human-Computer Interaction, Linguistics and Information Science. She has over 15 years of experience as a manager with the online learning team at the University of Edinburgh, where she specialised in usable and accessible digital practice, tutored on the groundbreaking Master's degree in Digital Education and developed online staff training on accessible e-learning and online tutoring skills. Since retiring from the university at the end of 2015, Wilma has provided consultancy services on all aspects of online learning, with a special focus on accessibility and usability issues.

Introduction

Welcome to the course! Learning Online: Essential Skills for Success provides an orientation to online learning for higher education students. You may be new to learning online, or you may want to improve your online study skills. This course will offer practical advice on being an online learner, as well as guidance on how to get the most out of your studies.

In recent years universities and institutions have reconsidered their offerings, with many developing courses that are either partly or fully online. As circumstances change and technologies continue to evolve and improve, it is becoming increasingly important to have the understanding and tools necessary to succeed in an online learning environment.

Whatever your level of experience, the positive advice offered in this course will help you recognise and explore the huge potential of studying online.


Learning outcomes

  • Identify the various types of online learning, and the different ways in which online learning and face-to-face learning can be combined
  • Navigate an online learning environment (such as a virtual learning environment (VLE) or learning management system (LMS))
  • Explain what will be expected of you as an online learner and the qualities you will need to succeed
  • Evaluate your own readiness for online learning and identify where to seek advice if necessary
  • Understand how to stay safe online and conduct yourself appropriately in an online learning environment
  • Develop strategies for protecting your health and wellbeing and combating isolation.

Using the module

Learning Online: Essential Skills for Success is designed as an orientation to online learning for higher education students, with an emphasis on developing the skills needed to succeed in an online learning environment.

If this is the first time you have accessed the Learning Online: Essential Skills for Success course, or if you need a brief reminder, here is some information on how the screens are organised, and some of the tools and features that are used throughout:

Content

  • The centre of each screen contains the core content for each course; this is presented either as text, interactive activities, graphics or videos
  • Text highlighted in a box preceded by an arrow contains instructions on how to navigate the activities that follow
  • Terms highlighted like this are clickable glossary terms, and can be clicked on to access pop-up boxes containing definitions of key terms
  • Note that your responses to the notemaking and text entry activities (for which you type responses in the spaces provided) can be printed and used as part of your ongoing work.

Pods

Throughout this programme, you will see additional learning opportunities in 'pods'. Exploring the information provided in the pods will enrich the learning experience.

  • Students say: Quotes from students linked to the main content on the screen.
  • Useful links: Links to organisations or other resources to support learning.
  • Download: Downloadable documents that complement and reinforce the key learning.
  • Additional information: Complementary information that builds on and enhances the information contained in the main part of the screen.
  • Finding support: Advice on where you can go to seek further support on the areas discussed in the course.
  • Your context: Advice on where to seek local support and information.
  • Glossary: Access to a document containing a list of glossary definitions used in the course.

Expert panel

Reviewers

Eleanor Loughlin

Eleanor Loughlin is Manager of the Academic Skills Programme at Durham University, UK, and provides training and support to students on skills development. She has conducted research and published on academic and employability skills development, studying online and the transition to university.


Anthony Payne

Anthony Payne is Director of Student Services at the University of Bath. His research interests have included inclusive education, the health needs of disadvantaged communities and using student engagement research to drive equality within higher education.


Jakob Sexton

Jakob Sexton is the Student Association President at The University of Law and a member of the university's Academic Board. In this role, Jakob ensures that students can be represented at all levels of the university, making their voices heard in the university's decision-making process.


Claire Thomson

Claire Thomson is Head of the Centre for Enhancement in Learning and Teaching (CELT) at Bishop Grosseteste University, offering strategic leadership and management in the areas of learning, teaching and student engagement. Claire's research interest is in the area of learning and teaching in higher education and the development of new methodologies for the delivery of effective and engaging learning, teaching and assessment.


Dr Emma Young

Emma is Head of Student Success Services at the University of Bradford, where she manages the Language Centre, Academic Skills Advice, and Student Experience and Success teams. She focuses on projects supporting student transition, student mental health and wellbeing, and support for care-experienced, estranged and carer students. Emma has researched and published in the areas of student transition into higher education, peer-assisted learning, and students' emotional wellbeing.


Acknowledgements

We would like to acknowledge the contributions of the following authors, from whose work some of the course content has been derived.

Nicola Barden

Nicola Barden has worked in higher education student support since 1991, focusing on the counselling and mental health aspects of wellbeing before taking on a broader role in 2013 as Director of Student Services at the University of Winchester. She retired from this post in December 2018, and published a book, Student Mental Health and Wellbeing in Higher Education: A practical guide, with her co-editor, Ruth Caleb, in September 2019. She continues an active association with the university as a Professional Services Fellow. Nicola is the author of the 'Study-life balance' module in Being Well, Living Well.


Emma Bond

Emma Bond is Director of Research, Head of the Graduate School, and Professor of Socio-Technical Research at the University of Suffolk. She has extensive research experience focusing on online risk and vulnerable groups, especially in relation to domestic abuse, revenge pornography, sexual abuse, and image-based abuse. Emma has 20 years' teaching experience on social science undergraduate and post-graduate courses, has worked as a PhD supervisor, and is a Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy. Her research on virtual environments, mobile technologies, and risk has attracted national and international acclaim. Emma is the co-author of the 'Online safety' module in Being Well, Living Well.


Laurie P. Dringus, Ph.D

Laurie P. Dringus, Ph.D., is a Professor in the College of Computing and Engineering at Nova Southeastern University. Her research interests include human–computer interaction, information design, and usability. She has published widely, writing several articles and delivering presentations related to the research, design, development, and evaluation of online learning environments. She is a Fellow of the Online Learning Consortium. Laurie is the US author of the 'Studying Online: A guide for students' module in Teaching Online.


Eleanor Loughlin

Eleanor Loughlin is Manager of the Academic Skills Programme at Durham University, UK, and provides training and support on developing the skills students need to succeed at university. She has researched and published on academic and employability skills development, studying online and the transition to university. Eleanor is author of the 'Introduction to Student Skills' module in Academic Success: Skills for Learning, Skills for Life.


Andy Phippen

Andy Phippen is a Professor of Digital Rights at Bournemouth University and a Visiting Professor at the University of Suffolk. He has specialised in the use of ICTs in social contexts for over 15 years, carrying out grassroots research on issues such as attitudes toward privacy and data protection, internet safety, and contemporary issues such as sexting, peer abuse, and the impact of digital technology on wellbeing. He has presented evidence to parliamentary inquiries related to the use of ICTs in society, and is a frequent media commentator on these issues. Andy is the co-author of the 'Online safety' module in Being Well, Living Well.


Andrew Reeves

Andrew Reeves is a Registered Social Worker, BACP Senior Accredited Counsellor/Psychotherapist and Associate Professor in the Counselling Professions and Mental Health at the University of Chester, with 35 years' clinical experience. He previously worked for nearly 20 years in a university setting as a Senior Counsellor. He has published widely on working with risk and student support issues around mental health. He is Director of Colleges and Universities for the Charlie Waller Memorial Trust, and is actively involved with colleges and universities across the UK looking at student mental health. Andrew is the author of the 'Studying Well' module in Being Well, Living Well.


Rhona Sharpe

Rhona Sharpe is Professor and Head of the Oxford Centre for Staff and Learning Development at Oxford Brookes University. She and her team run workshops, online courses, and offer consultancy for higher education institutions across the UK and internationally. She is also an Associate Lecturer for the Institute of Educational Technology at the UK Open University and a Visiting Professor at Edge Hill University. Rhona's interest in the role of technology in learning led her to direct a number of learner experience projects, which culminated in the creation of the ELESIG (Evaluation of Learners' Experiences of E-learning) community. She is a Senior Fellow of the Staff and Educational Development Association, a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy and a National Teaching Fellow. Rhona is the UK author of the 'Studying Online: A guide for students' module in Teaching Online.


Accessibility advisor

Wilma Alexander

Wilma Alexander

Wilma Alexander is a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy with Master's degrees in Human-Computer Interaction, Linguistics and Information Science. She has over 15 years of experience as a manager with the online learning team at the University of Edinburgh, where she specialised in usable and accessible digital practice, tutored on the groundbreaking Master's degree in Digital Education and developed online staff training on accessible e-learning and online tutoring skills. Since retiring from the university at the end of 2015, Wilma has provided consultancy services on all aspects of online learning, with a special focus on accessibility and usability issues.