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Introduction to online learning

What is online learning?


The students learning experience is rapidly changing and more increasingly Universities are transitioning to a ‘hybrid’ or ‘blended’ mix of online and face to face teaching and learning so it is important to get an understanding of what to expect.  

Teaching and learning at SHU is likely to be delivered through a mix of online lessons and face to face learning. Students can expect live timetabled sessions weekly to include: group work, seminars, workshops and studio sessions, delivered either online or on campus. There will also be tutor-led or independent learning sessions and bookable face to face tutorials  

For more information on teaching and learning in 2020/21 please visit the University's guide to keeping safe on campus.

Creating your study space

What technology is available to you?

At Hallam, we have a range of online software and technology that you can access for free while working from home. 

You can also check out our Student remote working guide: Remote Working. This guide will provide you with information around: 

  1. What devices can I use to connect to University services 

  1. What does a device need to have on it? 

  1. Which web browser should I use? 

  1. How can I access my work favourites / bookmarks when working remotely? 


This section will give you an overview of the software’s available to you  as a Hallam student so you can continue to work productively online. 

Office 365: As a Hallam student you can access Office 365 for free using your Hallam login. This gives you access to a range of Microsoft Office applications including Word, PowerPoint, Excel, SharePoint and many more. Find out more about Office 365 through our Digital Skills page.


Blackboard Collaborate: Blackboard collaborate is a virtual meeting and communication platform which integrates audio, video, interactive whiteboard, application sharing, PowerPoint display, breakout rooms, polling, and session recording. Collaborate is used by staff for hosting lectures and seminars, but it can also be used by students as a hosting platform for group work. Since the University transitioned to operating remotely, 94% of Skills Centre students agree the Blackboard Collaborate software is easy to use. If you would like to find out more about Blackboard Collaborate, please visit Hallam Digital Skills.


Zoom: Hallam students will also have access to Zoom video conferencing. Similar to Blackboard collaborate, you can organise virtual meetings and study groups with staff and fellow students. Although Zoom incorporates audio, video, chat, and application sharing functions; the University discourages students from sharing sensitive information through Zoom, as it is not currently proven to meet our GDPR policies. The University of Sheffield provides further information around using Zoom safely.


Sonocent Audio Notetaker: Sonocent Audio Notetaker is an assistive software designed to help you make the most out of your lectures by capturing audio, text and slides in a single workspace. As a Hallam student you can access the software for free through AppsAnywhere. For further information on Sonocent Audio Notetaker, please visit Hallam Digital Skills.


Skills for Study: Skills for study is an online educational platform hosting a range of modules to help you improve your academic skillset. Each module focuses on a distinct topic, ranging from core academic skills such as Critical thinking and Academic writing, to broader skills like Group work and Personal development. You can access the modules for free using your institutional login. Read our blog post to find out more about Skills for Study.


LinkedIn Learning: Hallam students can also access LinkedIn Learning, an expansive educational platform offering thousands of expert-led videos to help you improve your creative, technological, and academic study skills. You can find out more about what LinkedIn Learning has to offer, either through our Digital Skills page, or through our recent blog post.


Get Help: If you don’t have the right resources contact your SSA for advice and guidance.  

Accessible learning

As a student you can take advantage of Blackboard Ally which will give you alternative formats, such as responsive HTML, Audio, ePub, Electronic Braille to make your digital course materials more accessible. 

For more information on the assistive technology available, please visit the Assistive Technology webpages.

Working with others

Although the University may be operating differently, with less face-to-face teaching and more online learning, it doesn’t mean you can’t stay connected with your course mates. There are some really useful resources out there to help you share ideas and work collaboratively with your peers. 

Trello: Trello is essentially an online ‘task board’ that allows users to organise their work into lists, files and tasks. You can either use it individually or with peers to prioritise different aspects of your work, or to share and discuss ideas. 


Blackboard discussion board: With Blackboard discussion boards you can access forums to communicate and share ideas with other students and your tutor(s). The discussion boards are a great way to discuss a particular topic relevant to your course. You can find out more about Blackboard discussion boards through the SHU website.


Google Docs: Google Docs is a web-based collaborative application in which documents and spreadsheets can be created, edited and stored online. Google Docs is compatible with a number of Office 365 applications so you can easily import and export materials. Once you have a document or spreadsheet open in Google Docs you can invite other users to access and edit the file.


Social Media: Using social media is a great way to build personal relationships with your peers and ease any anxieties you may have around working collaboratively online. Social media can also be an effective way to plan working sessions and communicate outside of your study group. Please visit Hallam Digital Skills for more information on managing Social Media and staying safe online.


Working collaboratively with your peers is a great way to stay motivated and push yourself while you’re working remotely. After all, you will still be doing the same work as your peers and will therefore be facing similar challenges, so it’s best to stay connected and discuss your work in groups rather than trying to face it alone. Another great reason for working collaboratively is that your peers may have ideas or solutions that you hadn’t already thought of, and vice versa!

Online etiquette

Managing your wellbeing

In times when you might feel isolated and alone, frustrated or unable to cope with the demands of your studies, it is vital that you take care of your physical and mental health.  Learning online can have a profound effect on your resilience, happiness, and relationships, so make time familiarise yourself with the support available. 

As technology is becoming increasingly integral to your course it is important to use it safely and be aware of how to look after yourself whilst working online. For more information please visit SHU guidance pages: 

Student Wellbeing provides information and advice to support your psychological wellbeing in order for you to manage your studies and make the most of university life. 


Here are some external resources offering support to people who are struggling with mental health:

Tips for Success

Creating good study habits especially when working online are vital to keep you on track with your studies. Working from home more, it is easy slip into bad habits! Don’t let that happen to you.  

Here are some tips for success. 

  • Familiarise yourself with your course online learning guidelines and course module expectations. Find out how much time you will be expected to be online and campus and what is required of you. (See your module guide on SHU Blackboard).  

  • Use your timetable to establish a pattern of work with dedicated start and end times to your day. 

  • Set yourself goals and targets by writing to-do lists. E.g. I want to finish my first draft by... 

  • Build in breaks and rewards to help you stay focussed; try using a Pomodoro timer to manage this process.  

  • Ensure your equipment is in good working order, and you have a stable internet connection before begin working. 

  • Try to log on 5 minutes before the start to allow time for troubleshooting. If you encounter any technical issues, then contact ITHelp for support. 

For a longer read, explore Newcastle University's guide to managing your time.

For more helpful hints & support contacts please watch this video: 

Sessions from the Skills Centre

Although you may find yourself working off-campus more often, that doesn’t mean you can’t access additional academic support from the Skills Centre. 

The Skills Centre offers a well-established remote service available to ALL Hallam students, featuring: 

  • Online webinars 

  • Tailored 1-1 appointments 

  • Writing Forums 

  • Studiosity feedback service  

  • An extensive collection of online resources, study guides and screencasts 

To find out more about our online sessions and resources you can read our blog post. If you would like to book onto an upcoming session, then you can access our online calendar of events. You can also access any of our online collection of resources through our website.