There’s no right way to learn
With more technology available than ever before, it can be tough to know what to use and when. The world is rapidly evolving: it’s no different in education, and technology now plays a pivotal role in enhancing the learning experience. But, understanding what is available and how it can benefit you is crucial to making the most of new developments. It can make a big difference to academic performance and university life as a whole – in this blog, we’ll consider some of what’s available to you, and why you might want to make use of it.
Virtual learning environments (VLEs)
Most universities in the UK now use some form of VLE to support students with their studies; some of the more common ones are Blackboard, Canvas, and Moodle. Knowing how to make the most of your VLE can make life much easier. It’ll be where you can watch live lectures and seminars or look at recordings later on, interact with other students or teachers, and view information about your course.
Needless to say, the VLE will be at the heart of your academic experience – it’s where most of your day-to-day resources are found. So, it’s pretty important that you know how to use it. Your university is a good place to start with this: they’ll probably have a demo video somewhere on their website, showing the key features of your VLE. You’ll also be able to find more advanced guides on the website for the VLE itself if you’re looking for more specific support.
Online libraries and research
You probably associate a university library with dusty old rows of books, students sat scribbling away, and an unearthly silence. That’s not really how it is today, though. Whilst universities still have physical libraries, most resources are available online – sometimes exclusively so – reducing the need for in-person study sessions. A digital revolution has occurred in terms of academic research, and it’s vital you know how to embrace it.
The skills you need for an online database are a bit different to a normal library. Rather than knowing the Dewey Decimal system, you need to know how to use advanced search tools to find the precise source you’re looking for. This isn’t necessarily something you’ll have needed to do at school, and learning can be daunting. Your university will probably offer online study skills workshops you can attend to become more comfortable with their resources. Or, contact your student services team, and they should offer support.
It’s also worth mentioning that digital resources need to be referenced in a different way. The specific referencing style you need to use will depend on your university and course, and you should always consult your course resources to be sure you’re referencing correctly. It can make a big difference in the mark you get!
Educational apps and software
There are lots of different apps on the market now to help with your education. Everything from note-taking, time management, and language learning has a tool there to support you. Here are a few examples you could look at, but there’s plenty more:
- Grammarly: The most popular spell-checker available, Grammarly will help you write to an academic level in terms of grammar, punctuation, and syntax.
- Khan Academy: A massive online resource of lessons and courses across various topics. Great as a starting point or if you want to supplement your learning.
- Luna: AI-powered flashcards from any source material, near-instantly. Uses evidence-backed learning techniques to help you retain information for a target date.
- Duolingo: You probably know this one already. The biggest online language learning app, Duolingo is useful for students of all levels studying almost any language. Their TikTok is great, too.
- Zotero: A free tool which can used to get help with academic referencing, as well as organising and annotating your research.
Of course, this is a small sample of the types of tools you can find online. Whatever aspect of studying you’re struggling with, a bit of Googling will probably reveal something you can use to help. You could also ask friends – odds are they’re using tech to support their learning, too.
A reality of the digital world is that cybersecurity needs to be taken seriously. Whilst these online tools are a brilliant asset – and ones you should be using – taking the correct measures to protect your data is equally important. There are a couple of starting points to keep in mind for this:
- Strong passwords: Use a complex and unique password for your accounts, and make sure to update them regularly.
- Beware of phishing: Not the type with a rod. Report suspicious emails or messages requesting personal information to your university IT department.
- Keep software updated: Most apps will have regular updates to prevent security vulnerabilities. Downloading them as soon as you can will help protect your data.
They’re simple things to keep on top of, but they make a big difference to the security of your software.
Explore the digital world
We’ve looked at some of the technology available to you both within your university and outside of it. The biggest takeaway is that there’s an ocean of tech out there for you to use: almost every facet of learning has a digital tool there to support it now. With a bit of hunting, you’ll find something to suit your needs.
However, the first step is familiarising yourself with the digital tools your university uses. The two big ones will be the VLE and online library, but there might be more for you to make use of. If you’re ever unsure, the best bet is to reach out to your university’s student support team – they’re the best place to provide training and advice based on your situation.
0161 745 8353
0161 745 8353
University Business Park, Unit 42 Leslie Hough Way, Salford M6 6AJ