This is the first part of a two part post. You can read the second part, Making study at UTS work for your students: tips from the teacher here.

Special thanks to recent graduates of the Graduate Certificate in Learning Design program Ming Huang and Ann-Charlotte Stent, and to UTS Alumni Rory Green, Kevin Millingham, and Louise Yeh for their contributions to this post.

Starting study at University for the first time, or returning after a long break, can be challenging. The new knowledge and situations students are faced with are coupled with the demands of learning (or remembering) how to study, which can be an unfamiliar – and even unnatural – way of working for many people. Many students tell us that balancing work and family commitments around study is even more stressful than the academic load! In this post, we ask recent UTS graduates from the Postgraduate Learning Design team to share their top tips to help support students in their learning. In the next post in this two-part series, we’ll be talking to lecturer Keith Heggart about his tips.

A space of one’s own

With more of us studying partly or fully online, it’s more important than ever to consider how we can use technology to create a ‘space’ to work. The considered application of learning design principles to a learning sequence or subject can make all the difference in creating a supportive environment for learners. Recent graduate intern and new Assistant Learning Designer in PGLD, Ming Huang found being organised important:

I had separate calendars for different commitments synced to my device. This way, I can see how busy I am at any given time, and I can work backwards from my assessment due dates to help with my time management.

Ming Huang, Assistant Learning Designer in PGLD

Canvas has a range of tools available to subject facilitators, like those explored in this blog, but did you know there are some great features that can help support students with scheduling and organisation? Students can easily keep track of assignment due dates using the Calendar tool, and Ming suggests student sync their Canvas calendar with Outlook, iCal, or Google

It can also help to support students to create a dedicated ‘digital home’ both on and ‘off-Canvas’ to better manage their study and time – for example, you can advise students on programs you like using, and how you create a folder-or-note structure that works for you. Another recent graduate and new ALD, Ann-Charlotte Stent, recommends that students create ‘space in their life’: 

During my Graduate Certificate, I would study and prepare my assignments in the local library during a Saturday or Sunday afternoon. This meant I had time and space (physical as well as in my ‘life’) to focus without being interrupted. It also allowed my family to go about their day without having to worry about disturbing me.

Ann-Charlotte Stent, Assistant Learning Designer in PGLD

It can help to support students in understanding peak periods in the session, like those around exams or group work, and to let them know about the tools and support networks available to help them manage when they will be busy. In our learning design approach in PGLD, we draw on tools and processes to capture and visualise the student learning journey in a subject macro. This enables subject facilitators to know when to address some of these practical concerns. It’s important to remember that students and those around them should be supported in learning the ‘how to’, because our students have different experiences and often do need some help in making the most of their online or hybrid learning. 

Making the most of online class experience

In some respects, Canvas is your classroom, and it’s important that everyone is familiar  with the online study setting to maximise their experience. Top tips to share with your students include: 

  • Have you accessed your student email? This is the main way UTS will officially communicate with you, so it is important you regularly check your email account. UTS provides guides on how to access and set up your email account on a variety of devices and operating systems.  
  • Have you downloaded Zoom? You’ll be using this software in Live and Online classes, so make sure you’re all set up. The site includes instructions and support.  
  • Want to try online learning before class starts? Enrol in the UTS Open course Learning online at UTS.
  • Make sure you investigate the pages on the Current students section of the UTS website. This contains a lot of useful information, including supports, opportunities, and studying and managing during COVID-19
  • Did you know UTS students can access a range of free and discounted software and subscriptions?  
  • Remember, UTS Library gives you access to a range of subject specific resources and guides, as well as resources from reputable publishers like Norton and Routledge. Don’t forget, the UTS Library gives you access to streaming services like Kanopy! 
  • Canvas notifications can help you stay on top of announcements and due dates – find out more in this blog on Canvas notifications

Join the discussion