Advice for getting the most out of remote learning at the University – from the technology you will need to the way to approach online study.
Check out our study skills advice and training for remote study
We have recorded talks on remote studying to help you prepare for this year. The talks are for everyone, whether you are new to online learning or not, there is some great advice and tips to help improve your learning. The talks cover how to get the most out of remote study:
- Online lectures – covers how to prepare and how to take notes effectively
- Online tutorials – how to contribute well and get the most out of the discussion
- Online assessments – preparing for different types of assessment, revision tips and sitting exams
- Studying more productively – includes time management, structuring your week and how to prioritise
You can find the talks, in the new Skills for Remote Study resource on Canvas.
Tips for remote study
- Find the best space that you can to work in. If you live with others, is there a quieter room that you can use? Can you use headphones or suitable music to cut out any distractions? Ideally you will need a desk or table to work at, with good natural lighting and away from household noise. Support your posture with some simple tweaks to your desk and chair position.
- Try to get ready in the morning as you would if you were attending lectures. Getting ready for the day ahead will help you to get into the right mind set.
- Keep in touch. Communicate regularly with your tutors, college welfare or disability staff. Don’t be afraid to let them know if you have any problems. When using the Canvas virtual learning environment, make sure your notifications are switched on, preferably to ‘notify me right away’ so that you don’t miss any important course information. Remember to talk to other students.
- Get into a routine. You might like to keep a planner to help you stay on track with your learning and work towards deadlines. Set yourself working hours in each day and create reminders to complete assignments.
- Take regular breaks. When studying online, it’s important to get up, take your eyes off the screen, and move around. Doing so can also give your brain a chance to consolidate what you’ve learnt.
- Use the resources available to you at the University, such as library resources (or contact your relevant subject library for more information) and free or cheap software through the University.
- Make time for exercise and activities you enjoy, to contribute to positive mental health. The Counselling Service offers a range of supportive resources and information, and Student Welfare and Support Services offer online and telephone appointments.
You can do many things on your smartphone or tablet for short periods. However, to work safely for long periods of time, we recommend a computer or laptop with a screen size of at least 12 inches.
Any additional equipment you may need will depend on the tasks you want to accomplish. The following list covers typical tasks and the equipment needed to achieve them.
Connection to the Internet
It is critical to communicate with others outside your household. Where possible we recommend a broadband connection. However, if you do not currently have broadband at home but do have a smart phone, then you can setup a mobile data connection (hotspot) instead. For guidance on how to do this refer to the help pages of your mobile phone network.
You can find a host of online tools to help you learn, share files and connect with others on the IT Services webpages.
Word/data processing, presentations and communication
Microsoft office is available to download free while you are a student. This will give you access to the full Office suite including; Word, PowerPoint, Excel, OneNote, Outlook etc. While these applications are available to use online, the desktop versions usually offer more functionality.
You can easily download Office by going to www.office.com, signing in with your University credentials and clicking ‘Install office’ in the upper right corner of the screen.
We recommend and support the use of Microsoft Office applications for word processing, data manipulation, presentations and communication/collaboration with others.
Making a video call / joining a video call or tutorial
You will need a mobile phone, tablet, or computer with a camera and microphone
- Headsets or conference phones are ideal but built-in speakers and microphones are perfectly acceptable. Occasionally the built-in setup causes feedback, and may create more background noise, compared to a headset. The sound quality of mobile phone headsets can vary when used with videoconferencing systems, please test, and ask other participants whether they can hear you clearly, and at a good volume
- Many devices have a built-in camera, but external webcams are comparatively inexpensive and easy-to-use, many also have a built-in microphone, which helps to separate the speakers from the mic, avoiding feedback. If your internet connection is limited, we recommend disabling your camera to reduce the bandwidth required, and increase audio quality
- For video calls we recommend and support Microsoft Teams
Your choice of browser may depend on your operating system, but popular browsers such as Chrome and Firefox are available for most. Windows 10 has the Edge browser built-in.
Whether studying on site or away from Oxford it is vitally important to keep your work secure by protecting your device(s). Sophos is the recommended antivirus software and is free to use for as long as you are a registered student at Oxford. Make sure you have backup copies of your work in separate places to avoid any losses if your machine breaks down, is compromised or lost/stolen. See the University infosec home working advice for more tips on secure remote studying.
You can find a whole host of online tools to support your learning, share your files and connect with others on the IT Services webpages.
Tips for accessing library resources and services remotely
e-books and e-journals
Go to SOLO (the University’s Resource Discovery Tool), sign in with your Single-Sign-On (SSO) and carry out your search. Over 1.4 million e-books and 118,000 e-journals are available remotely via SOLO to members of the University, together with over 1,300 library databases.
Oxford Reading Lists Online (ORLO)
Many departments offer online reading lists with direct links to digital resources and scanned book chapters. Access ORLO reading lists via your course's Canvas site or search for your list on ORLO.
Scanned extracts for research
Obtain scans of book chapters or journal articles from the Bodleian Libraries' print collections with Scan and Deliver.