I have recently been thinking about the advice that should be given to students about what they should be doing with technology. I am thinking about advice to all students (not just online students but face2face as well) something we could put on our VLE that would be useful to our entire student body. This is my first rough draft – feel free to suggest anything I might have missed
Technology is a key part of the modern world and you will not be surprised to find that it will be a key part of your studies. Each degree is different and so it is not easy to give advice on how to interact with the online parts of your particular course that is applicable to everyone, however here are some of the things that we feel the digital scholar should be
Hardworking – yes we know you are going to work hard while you are here but you also need to be certain that you are working online enough, the data from a number of universities around the world shows a clear (if faint) trend between number of times logging onto the VLE and degree grade. At a minimum you should try to log on twice per lecture once before to get materials in advance and once after a lecture to get notes and handouts. You might also be interested to know there is a clear trend between books/journals taken out from the library and degree grade (Hard working students do well – who knew!)
Reflective – you are going to learn a vast amount while you are here, and reflecting on what you have learnt dramatically increases the amount you will retain. One of the best ways to do this is to create a blog and post regularly about what you are learning, you will also find that it helps your understanding as when you write it out for your blog audience you will find yourself explaining the subject and one of the best ways to learn something is to explain it to someone else.
This post on “5 reasons your students should blog” gives some more reasons, I feel point 5 is particularly important – by the time you leave this University if your name is Googled it should point to a positive digital footprint containing your thoughtful comments on your chosen field.
Collaborative – one of the most useful resources that you will have during your time at this University is your classmates. A group of intelligent people who are learning approximately the same thing as you at around the same time, you should be discussing what you are learning with them. Using social media it is very easy to keep in touch with them and share your ideas and thoughts.
You can use Facebook etc but it is probably worth keeping a divide between your recreational and academic lives so we would recommend that you try G+ to form your academic learning network (not least because at our University you all have Gmail and so can join G+ with one click and have an integrated experience).
You can use this to share your blog posts and to share any interesting articles you find about the topics on your course (you should be spending time reading around your subject – when you find something useful, share it). If a number of your classmates start sharing then you should get a steady stream of useful reading, you should also consider looking outside your peer group for other students or subject experts that you can follow – see this article on Using social media to advance your academic research goals for more ideas in this area.
Connected – your phone/laptop/tablet has access to the internet (at Uni you get free wifi access), this gives you access to all human knowledge (as well as access to your course) and it allows you to work anywhere (taking notes, pictures watching videos etc). You should aim to have at least one internet enabled device with you at all times as this will allow you to engage with your subject at any time. You will also find that in a lot of lectures having access to the internet allows you to more deeply engage with the lesson (such as using the Backchannel) although do try not to get distracted!
You will also find that our Blackboard has a mobile app so you can access and engage with your courses using your mobile.