Online Learning – Best Practice

It is important for students to have a contingency plan for when unexpected events occur and disrupt live online learning sessions.

There are a number of things that can go wrong and interrupt live learning. Some of these will be user specific issues e.g. the computer/laptop, microphone, speakers, home internet connection speed (Wifi) and any other peripherals that may be being used to take part in a live session. Issues may of course also arise with the web conferencing system being used (e.g. Blackboard Collaborate or Microsoft Teams) or with the internet/world-wide web generally.

What you can you do as a student to mitigate against such issues?

A key factor in successful online live learning is preparation and awareness of what could possibly go wrong. Listed below are some of the commonest issues that arise in live learning and that can lead to delay or interruption to a session.

  1. Technology

It is unrealistic to expect any system to function as anticipated every time.  As outlined above, technology factors to take into account can be divided into local factors (devices and browsers being used to connect to the live session and the home internet connection) or external factors (the web-conferencing system being used and the internet generally).

1.1 Local Factors – The device being used can have a major impact on how successful any live learning session is. If you have an old computer that is affecting your learning or is otherwise failing frequently, you should check if you could get some funding by contacting the Students Advice team via: studentadvice@westminster.ac.uk

Whatever device you are using you should ensure that you are using a browser and browser version that is compatible with and recommended for the web-conferencing system that you are using – for Blackboard Collaborate – Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox (not Microsoft Edge or Safari) and for Microsoft Teams – Google Chrome or Edge (not Mozilla Firefox or Safari)

In relation to a home internet connection, we recommended that you position your computer/laptop as close as possible to where your router is located. If possible connect your computer/laptop by cable to the router. It is also good practice to minimise the load on your network connection as much as possible whilst you are learning live online.

1.2 External Factors – The university supports systems that enable live online teaching. Blackboard Collaborate is the main system used. As with any system, in some occasions, these systems may not function as expected. If this happens, it is important to keep in touch with your tutors via email or any other tools such Padlet, Microsoft Teams. Your tutors have been encouraged to make sure they have agreed a plan on how to keep in touch if the systems fail. Please check with your tutor if you are not sure what the preferred method is.

  1. What can you do as learner?

It is impossible to prepare for every unforeseen event but there are somethings you as learner can do to minimise session interruption.

You are encouraged to:

  • Check that you can access the link used for the live session at least 15min before the session starts.
  • Test your Microphones and speakers before each session
  • Make sure you have a good internet connection
  • Have alternative devices (e.g. mobile phones or other devices) in case your main computer malfunctions.
  • Minimise the running of other applications that require internet connectivity during sessions either on your own devices or by others in the environment that is sharing the broadband connection.
  • To ensure that you are using a browser and browser version that is compatible with and recommended for the web-conferencing system that they are using – for Blackboard Collaborate– Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox (not Microsoft Edge or Safari) and for Microsoft Teams – Google Chrome or Edge (not Mozilla Firefox or Safari)

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