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Becoming an online learner

Online learning tools

Tools to support your online learning

Online learning involves using a wide range of tools and platforms. You may be familiar with tools such as Minerva and Microsoft Office 365, which are available to all University of Leeds students to support your learning, but others may be new.

Your module leaders will choose different software to suit the tasks you need to do in each module. Take some time to familiarise yourself with the tools used in each of your modules, but don’t worry – nobody expects you to be a tech expert!

If you need more support the IT Service Desk website and the Student IT Induction pages have plenty of advice on how to use different tools and platforms. You can also search online for tips or try YouTube or LinkedIn Learning for training videos and courses. It’s also OK to ask your course mates or your tutor for support and tips on using different tools – you might find others have the same questions you do.

You may also want to explore other tools to support your online learning. Here are some different ways you might enhance your online learning experience.

Make learning easier

Install accessibility software to help you make sense of documents and websites. Find out more about getting support with assistive technology from Disability Services.  

Automatic captioning

Automatic captions are available on Lecture Capture in Mediasite, Microsoft Stream and Microsoft TeamsView more information on lecture recordings.

Screen reader

Try a screen reader or text-to-speech app to help you navigate documents if you find it difficult to read on a screen, or if you want to listen to your texts while you’re on the go. Microsoft's Immersive Reader is built into Office 365 and is available to all students. NVDA, VoiceOver or TalkBack are all free to use.

Filters and magnifiers

Try installing a colour filter like ColorVeil or use the magnifier built in to your computer or phone if you find it difficult to read documents online.

Change document formats

Minerva has a feature called Blackboard Ally, which allows you to access some documents in different formats, including as a webpage (html), multicoloured text, or an audio file.

Develop your employability and broaden your learning

If you’d like to learn a new skill, explore a completely new topic, or sharpen up your skills for the workplace, you can try some online training videos or short courses.

LinkedIn Learning

The University has a subscription to LinkedIn Learning, which has courses to develop your employability, IT and professional skills. You don’t need a LinkedIn profile to access the courses, just use your University username and password.

MOOCs

Sign up for a “MOOC” – a short online course. Look on Futurelearn, Coursera, or EdX to find free online courses designed by universities around the world, covering a huge range of topics from economics to crafts to public health.

Connect with others in your discipline

You can use social media platforms to engage with your academic discipline as well as for entertainment.

Twitter and LinkedIn

Many researchers and professionals use social media, including Twitter and LinkedIn, to connect with others in their subject area, to share knowledge and collaborate. Follow and interact with them to increase your network, and to help you to keep up to date with the big issues and developments in your field.

Group chat

Start a group chat with the other students on your course, or with specific groups you’re working on projects with. It’s an easy way to connect with your classmates and to carry on conversations outside of your timetabled sessions.

Podcasts

Search for podcasts hosted by academics or practitioners in your field, for another way to keep up to date with key discussions in your areas of interest.

Blogs

Find and follow academic and professional blogs on Medium or The Conversation. These can be great places to read discussion and analysis of topics you’re interested in.

Present and share your learning

Try creative ways to present what you’ve learned. Increasing your familiarity with presentation tools or blogging could come in handy in a future job, or in other areas of your life.

For example, you could:

Keep organised

It’s important to establish effective working habits such as organising your notes and keeping an online calendar. Choose tools that work well for you and it’ll be easier to stick with them.

Organise your notes

Collect all your notes into one place and file them using a logical system. If you want to use an app for this, try Microsoft OneNote or Evernote.

Make a to-do list

Maintain a to-do list and refer to it regularly. Try an app like Google Keep, Microsoft To Do or Trello. Some of these are collaborative, so you can share a to-do list with course mates for a group project.

Back up your files

Back up all your files to a cloud storage location such as Microsoft OneDrive or Google Drive, as well as storing them on your computer and/or a USB drive.

Keep an online calendar

Keep on top of your timetable and daily life by adding all your classes, assignment deadlines and other appointments to a calendar that you can sync across your devices. You can use the Outlook calendar that comes with your University email address or sync it to a Google or Apple calendar instead.