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Learning at a Distance – a guide for students

As you know, following the University’s announcement of 13 March, face-to-face teaching is temporarily suspended with lectures, seminars and tutorials being delivered online until further notice.  

This is a guide to the online tools that you and your lecturers will be using to support your learning online over the next few weeks.  

This is a relatively fast move into delivering teaching online at a large scale, so not everything will go right first time and there may be some frustrations. We appreciate that this is a stressful time –hopefully this material and guidance from the Faculties will help to make the experience as smooth as possible. 


Faculties will be using Canvas and e-mail as the main ways of staying in touch and keeping you up to date with day-to-day arrangements. Make sure you check your University e-mail account regularly. Faculties may try to run online events in line with the currently scheduled timetable, but there is likely to be some disruption –  Faculties will communicate times and locations as they are arranged. Make sure that you have Canvas notifications for Announcements set to ‘Notify me right away’ by going to your “Account” in Canvas and then checking your “notifications”  – in the Module Activities section select the tick next to Announcements  in the columns to the right of the screen. If you haven’t done it already, download the ‘Canvas Student’ app from the Apple App Store or Google Play Store. 

See here for information on setting Canvas notifications: 


The most likely way for lectures to be delivered is pre-recorded via Listen Again. You will access these as normal via the Listen Again link in your module area in Canvas. 

Some lectures may be delivered live in Listen Again – you simply access these via the relevant link in the Listen Again area in your module in Canvas at the scheduled time. 

Some lectures may be delivered via the Conferences tool in Canvas. This tool allows for more interaction than Listen Again – you access it via the Conferences link in your module area in Canvas. You will find a guide to using Conferences here: 

For online lectures you will need headphones or speakers and, for interactive sessions, a microphone. 


Interactive online seminars will be delivered via the Conferences tool in Canvas. You access this via the Conferences link in your module space in Canvas. This tool allows for presentations, screen sharing, video and audio as well as text chat, so will allow you participate in seminar discussions and activities. Instructions on using Conferences is available here: 

To participate in Canvas Conferences you will need headphones or speakers and a microphone. 

Your lecturers may also use the Discussions and Chat tools in Canvas to allow for conversations and interaction. Guides to using these are available here: 

As far as possible we are attempting to make sure that all essential course readings are available online via your module resource lists in Canvas.


The University is still working with Faculties to finalise alternative arrangements for assessment. Most coursework will continue to be submitted via Canvas as normal – arrangements for online exams or alternative assessments will be communicated to you shortly. 

Tips on studying online 

Studying online is different to studying on campus and might be unfamiliar to a lot of students – Martin Weller, a Professor at the Open University who has designed and delivered lots of online courses has written a blog post containing advice for students studying online ( His main tips are: 

  • Get organised!  
  • Plan your time carefully, things may take longer than you think and you will need regular breaks 
  • Let those around you know when you are studying 
  • Get your study space sorted 
  • Engage in online discussion – studying alone can be isolating 
  • Read carefully  
  • If unsure, ask  
  • Be strategic 
  • Be patient (this may be new to you and your lecturers!) 
  • Enjoy it! 

Student Learning Services 

For help with studying and assignments, check out the great study skills resources on the Student Learning Services Canvas site: 

To book an appointment with a Study Skills Tutor see the options available at: 


Canvas (including Conferences) 

For help and advice on using Canvas (including the Conferences tool) please contact Canvas help via the various options accessed from the Help link at the bottom of the left-hand menu in Canvas. 

General IT and Library help 

Please contact the Information Centre as normal for IT or Library enquiries: 

  • IT enquiries: or fill in our Ask IT form on UniDesk 
  • Library enquiries: or fill in our Ask the Library form on UniDesk 

Please note that these services are likely to be very busy and so there may be some delay in responding to your enquiry. 


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