Online Learning and Collaboration

online learningOnline learning will play a big part in your studies. You could find yourself using online tools to help organise your time, manage notes, research key terms, access course materials, document findings, share work, talk with peers, and so on. Of course, a huge number of online tools are available. The following site helps University of Portsmouth students find apps to help them in their studies: http://appshelf.port.ac.uk/

Digital learning environment – Moodle

The University uses Moodle as its digital learning environment. (You might also encounter the term virtual learning environment, or VLE.) From Moodle you will be able to:

  • Access lecture notes, Powerpoint presentations and other content
  • Access reading lists containing links to both ebooks and catalogued books and journal articles  
  • Participate in online group discussions using chat rooms and forums
  • Participate in quizzes and submit assignments
  • Access course grades and feedback
  • Access the latest course information and news through unit announcements

Every unit is different, so the amount of engagement you have with Moodle will vary. If you are learning at a distance than you can expect to predominantly receive course materials via Moodle.

You can access Moodle from MyPort (myport.ac.uk). Once you have registered with the University you will be able to login to Moodle using your University of Portsmouth credentials. After you have logged in you can access a ‘Help Sites’ tab from the main navigation menu. It’s here you will find support for students – there’s lots of useful advice and guidance on how to use Moodle activities and resources, and other elearning tools.

Turnitin

Many units on Moodle make use of a Turnitin dropbox. Turnitin allows you to submit an assignment for marking. Turnitin also provides you with a ‘similarity score’ for your work: the software compares a student’s work against a vast database of websites, books and journals, and highlights content that has been used in the submission but not referenced correctly. Turnitin thus helps identify cases of plagiarism – but you should think of it as a tool that can help you improve your academic writing skills.

Collaboration tools

At some point during your course you will be expected to work in a group. Group work can be done by face-to-face meetings at, say, the Library. However, there are ways to work collaboratively without actually being in the same room. Using tools such as Google Docs, Google Hangout, WebEx, Moodle, Evernote and Facebook you can easily communicate with your peers, create content collaboratively and share useful findings.

This is not to say that you should abandon face-to-face meetings! But the right choice of technology can enhance the collaboration experience, especially when it proves difficult to get all group members to meet in a particular place at a particular time. You just need to make sure all group members have access to the technology you decide to use.

Referencing and copyright

When studying, and accessing the many resources available to us online, it can be easy to lose sight of where the resources came from and who owns the material.

During your independent study you will use resources – such as a chapter in a book, a website, a particular image – and you must always make a note of those resources and the owner. You will need this information when, in writing your own assignment, you come to reference or credit others’ work. If you don’t cite and reference correctly you could be penalised for plagiarism or copyright infringement. If you find a resource online but are unsure of where it has come from, it is better to not use it at all.

If you want to use images in your work, you can find lots of copyright free / restricted images and graphics using the following repositories:

Flickr: Creative Commons

https://www.flickr.com/creativecommons/

GitHub

https://github.com/neutraltone/awesome-stock-resources

Makerbook

http://makerbook.net/graphics/

Don’t forget…

  • Make sure you have reliable access to the internet
  • Seek help if you are having trouble accessing online resources and activities
  • Make sure you note where and when you accessed online resources so that when you come to cite them you have the information required to evidence your work
  • Participate in online forum activities – these types of debates and discussion can add value to your learning experience

Resources