Digital Learning
and Teaching


Learning online may be a completely new experience for many of you. As such, we want to make sure that you are in the best position for this approach and know what is expected of you. For those that have already experienced this approach then look at this as a refresher and a reminder of best practice.

As you may have experienced already, a significant amount of teaching this year is going to be delivered in a variety of different ways. There will be live sessions, pre-recorded sessions, online activities, group discussions, and interactive tutorials.

This blended approach means that we are using technology to create inclusive and engaging learning activities, and then use live or face-to-face sessions to build upon your knowledge and understanding. It means that you are a more active participant in your own learning and we will be actively encouraging a partnership approach to this to ensure the student voice is heard.

Below we are going to look at some of the main approaches being used, and the tools that will help you get the most out of your studies.

Digital Skills

Ensuring you can make the best of Digital Learning

The Digital Skills Framework is a tool to help you evaluate your current levels of digital capability, reflect on your development needs, plan your development path and find resources to help you develop your skills.

The framework can be used by all staff and students at the University including learners, teachers, researchers, and professional services staff.

Developing the digital skills of our students is at the forefront of University strategy and underpins many of the University’s activities including the organisation’s drive towards blended learning.

For you as a student at UWTSD, we will provide opportunities to develop digital skills for your time at University and beyond, whether as part of curricular teaching or through independent learning beyond your main programme of study.

Visit the Digital Skills Framework dedicated site for more information on how to use the framework, including utilising the Jisc Discovery Tool which is a self-assessment questionnaire to evaluate your current digital skill levels.

Make the best of Digital Learning

We are here to support you with all your digital skills needs. The DigiCentre has a range of resources you can use to upskill yourself in 6 areas of digital capability. These are:

  • Digital proficiency and productivity.
  • Information, data and media literacies.
  • Digital creation, problem-solving and innovation.
  • Digital communication, collaboration and participation.
  • Digital learning and development.
  • Digital identity and wellbeing.

You can upskill yourself using our recommended learning pathways in Moodle, where you can also apply for a range of digital badges. Or you can use our Digital Skills Resource Finder to help you discover a range of digital tools and resources to help you with your studies.

Visit the DigiCentre website for further information, and to find out what further support and training is on offer. Start off by visiting the Self-Assessment tool for new students to get your personalised skills report and identify what you’re good at and what you need to develop.

Visit the DigiCentre


Get to know our virtual learning environment

Moodle is our Virtual Learning Environment (VLE). This is the place to go for all the learning resources for your modules, including lecture recordings, Online Resources Lists, lecture slides and handouts, as well as module handbooks. It is also where you can submit your assignments and coursework.

To access Moodle, simply go to and log in with your University network username and password.

Virtual classrooms

Attending lectures and seminars online

Lectures and seminars have long been staples of university teaching, but you will notice some changes when learning digitally. The most obvious difference is that instead of heading into a lecture theatre you may well be logging into a video conferencing system. In addition, your sessions are likely to be shorter and will take place in smaller groups where you will have more opportunity for discussion and interaction.

Just as you would need to prepare to attend a face-to-face teaching session, you need to make sure you are fully prepared for your online lessons.

Here are our top tips to help you:

  • Set up your study space - Find somewhere you can sit comfortably, where there is minimal noise.
  • Do a test run - Check that your internet is working and open the application you will be using to familiarise yourself with it.
  • Choose how you will be taking notes - Will you be using pen and paper or typing your notes? Make a choice beforehand and stick to it.
  • Stay engaged - Remove potential distractions beforehand. Write down any questions you have before and during the session, then follow up with your lecturer if they are not answered.
  • Be respectful - Don't write or say anything during an online session that you would not say in person. Similarly, do not fill the chat with unrelated conversation - this is the online equivalent of talking during a teaching session.


Connecting and learning with others online

One of the most important aspects of attending university is becoming a part of the university community. Even when working off-campus, we want you to be able to build connections and friendships with staff and students and to collaborate effectively.

We look at the tools you can use to communicate and share below:

Many of your modules in Moodle will have discussion boards where you can post questions or talk about the different aspects of your course. This is a great space for discussing topics specific to your module and connect with other students on your course.

Most courses will be using Teams extensively as part of scheduled online teaching sessions, it is an invaluable tool for communication and collaboration. It allows you to connect with individuals and groups across the University either through video, instant message, or within discussion channels.

This video gives a good simple overview of how to use Teams as a student.

For more information as well as links to online videos and resources, visit our dedicated Teams resources page

While some of you will be familiar with email as a form of communication, others might only use it sporadically. What is really important is that you get into the habit of regularly using and checking your UWTSD account. Not only is this one of the easiest ways to contact staff and other students, it's also one of the main ways that the University will send you information.

We would also encourage you to use the calendar features of outlook not only to help organise your own time, but to arrange appointments with others and check availability of staff and other students.

Check out this Microsoft resource for Outlook

Our University OneDrive service gives you 1TB of individual online file storage, giving you a secure and stable place to store and share documents.

Take a look at this Microsoft resource page for more information.

Office 365 applications give you the ability to share and co-author documents with other individuals or groups. This is ideal for all kinds of group working, whether that be module study groups or collaborative research projects.

For more information on using Office 365 in this way, see: Best practices for collaborating with Microsoft 365

Connecting with others through a computer screen can feel different from working with them face-to-face. This can sometimes lead to misunderstandings or even conflicts. It is important to be aware of this to make sure that working with others online remains a positive experience.

Here are some essential guidelines for working with others in real time:

  • Be considerate - Try to give everyone an opportunity to speak or contribute. Consider muting you microphone when you are not speaking.
  • Be respectful - You might have differences of opinion, but it is important to respect other points of view.
  • Stay focused - Don't be distracted by other things on your computer or in your room. When you are speaking, try to stay on topic.
  • Stay present - It can help to keep your camera on to show that you are there and paying attention.
  • Know what you are sharing - Think about what others can see when connecting with video or when sharing your screen. You may want to use a video call background. Similarly, you should always respect others' privacy

If you are communicating asynchronously (so not necessarily at the same time as others) - for example, using message boards, email, or collaborative documents - here are some tips you help you communicate more effectively

  • Use language respectfully - Don't write anything online that you would not say in person.
  • Give people time to respond - Working online does not mean that people will be available 24/7. For example, even though you can email staff at any time, you should not expect them to respond outside of their usual office hours.
  • Join in - Try to contribute by posting up comments, asking or answering questions, or by sharing something that you have learned.
  • Stay in touch - if you are supposed to be working with others, make sure you maintain communication, for example by giving progress updates.


Working online and using digital resources

Some elements of studying online might not seem too dissimilar from how you have worked in the past. No doubt you are familiar with searching for information online and using common office applications to write essays, reports, or assignments.

Here at UWTSD we have a wealth of specialist learning resources available to you, including e-books, online journals, newspaper articles, TV programmes and more. It is essential that you know how to access them and how to use them effectively in your studies.

You will also be expected to use technology to access lectures, write assignments, collaborate with your lecturers and other students and submit your assessments. We can help you to assess your skills levels and develop them as needed.

You can use our libraries to borrow print items and access digital resources. All students automatically have a library account and you can log into this from the Library homepage to manage your loans and reserve items, using your UWTSD login.

Take a look at our Student Essentials page, which gives you the most important information you’ll need to support your studies. Visit the Getting Started Guides for advice relevant to your area of study.

At university level, it's expected that a large part of your learning will be done through independent research, rather than just through face-to-face teaching. This can include reading, watching videos, looking at statistics and staying up to date with recent developments in your field. So, you will need to manage your research and make it a part of your study schedule.

Your Online Resource Lists should contain the essential and further reading and other learning resources for your modules. Make sure you know where to find your online resource lists, and how to access the material on your lists as this is your starting point.

You can use the Academic and InfoSkills resources to help you develop your skills in finding and using information; from the types of resources you’re expected to use all the way to critical thinking and evaluation.

You will also need to be able to reference your sources accurately so take a look at your referencing handbook and the various tools and support available to help you.

Here are some of the tools you can use to help make studying online, taking notes, and organising your work more effective:

Your studying may be less effective if you do not take the time to prepare properly. Here are some tips to help improve your working environment and minimise potential distractions:

  • Try to choose the best place to work – Ideally try to make sure you set up your study area in a space that you can work comfortably and without interruptions, whilst trying to keep your workspace clean and tidy.
  • Choose the right time to work - There is no "correct" time to study, but you should try to choose to study when you are going to be focussed and attentive. This means trying to avoid times when you are tired, hungry or you are likely to be disturbed by other people. This won’t always be possible but again, try to choose the best time for you.
  • Think minimally - When working, only have out the equipment you need. The more things you have around you, the more opportunity your mind may wander and become distracted.
  • Turn off your notifications - Before you start working you should, at the very least, turn your phone onto silent. If you need to focus, you should turn off all notifications.
  • Schedule breaks - Taking regular breaks will help you stay refreshed, alert and focussed.


Completing and submitting your assignments

You will be completing and submitting assessed work throughout your modules. So, it is important to understand the different types of assessment you might be asked to complete, and to know what is expected of you when it comes to meeting deadlines and submitting work.

Many of the traditional forms of assessment probably will not appear very different when working online. For example, when writing essays, literature reviews, reports, or annotated bibliographies the biggest difference is likely to be how you access the resources for your research, not how you complete the work.

Where you will see differences is with formal examinations, practical assessments, oral exams, and presentations. How these will be carried out will depend on your specific institute and module, so be sure to check your handbook, your module overview or speak to your personal tutor.

If you are asked to submit written work through Moodle then it is likely that you will be using Turnitin, our platform for submitting assignments and providing feedback.

Turnitin is an online service that enables Universities and lecturers to compare their students' assignments with a range of electronic sources, including other students' work. The service is a valuable tool to help institutions, staff and students prevent and detect plagiarism. Turnitin can be accessed via Moodle.

For more information on Turnitin visit this link and also see here for our Academic Quality Handbook


Keep track of your progress

There's a lot of information in this resource, so we've created a checklist you can print out to keep track of your progress as you work through each of the sections.

Just click the download button below to save a copy.

Download Checklist