Continuing to learn remotely

On this page we look to provide some basic guidance around how to get started and learn effectively online as your tutors switch to teaching in a digital format.

We will update this page with more guidance as it becomes available. Please check regularly.

On this page you will find information about:

Learning online: Where to start

Learning online is quite different to being in a lecture theatre or classroom. It is typically a lot more flexible, meaning you will have far greater choice over when and where you study. This requires some adjustments to your learning approach, so remember to:

  • Be patient. Your tutors are learning how to teach in a very different way very quickly. Things will not always go according to plan and they will welcome your patience and understanding;
  • Be open to new experiences. Online study and training is becoming increasingly common across all professional fields, so try to treat this as an opportunity to develop your ability to learn online. This will mean communicating in different ways and navigating occasional difficulties, including timezones and misunderstandings.
  • Create a routine that works for you. You may need to write and stick to a study plan, decide how to record any notes or questions you might have, and find an appropriate work space.
  • Familiarise yourself with teaching approaches and tools used by your tutors. To participate fully you’ll need to know how, so where there are opportunities to try things out, make sure you do.
  • Find out where to find help. Your regular support channels still apply, even when learning remotely. For coursespecific queries, contact your course team, but if you have any technical problems you can talk to UCL IT Services.

Read our case study: Understanding a student's first week of remote teaching

Digital academic content and video lectures

In the event of on-campus disruption it may no longer be possible to offer traditional services, such as borrowing books from the UCL Library, and we may need to rely on digital sources of academic and supplementary material. Your tutor may make a range of material available in different forms and media, including digitised reading lists and academic literature, audio and video content, and interactive material from external providers.

In addition, your tutors may choose to make videos of material they would normally deliver as a lecture. This follows the same process as capture of your face-to-face lectures, where Lecturecast is used and recordings are made available via Moodle.

Tips for accessing lectures and digital content

Depending on how you prefer to learn, having different media available can be an advantage or more challenging. As a rule, you should always try to actively engage with any form of content, whether you are reading, listening, or watching. Engagement might mean you:

  • Take brief notes which paraphrase ideas and concepts;
  • Note any questions you have;
  • Reflect on your understanding of the material. What is most interesting to you and why? Is there anything you have struggled with? Why might that be?

Get help

Support for use of the UCL Library and its services can be found on the Library Services Student webpages.  The COVID-19 UCL Library Services page provides regular updates on access to Library services and resources. Step-by-step guidance for accessing Lecturecast video content can be found in our Lecturecast Student Guide, including the basics of finding recordings, how you might engage with them, and FAQs.

Seminars and group study

Seminars and group study can continue either as live-streamed, interactive classes or text-based discussion tasks. Each requires a different approach to participation, though there are some similarities.

Live classes

Tutors may schedule live, interactive classes using Blackboard Collaborate. The platform offers live streaming of audio, video, presenter slides, and application sharing, in addition to text chat, polls, and emojis.

Tips for taking part

Your tutor will outline how they expect you to participate in a session and the tools that will be used. However, you should:

  • Remove distractions. Try to find a reasonably quiet location with a good internet connection, close any other browser tabs or applications, and put your phone on silent.
  • Be present. Listen to your tutor, and when you’re asked to participate try to be active in any conversations, whether verbally or in the text chat.
  • Be kind. Listen, read, and respond to other students’ responses, but be respectful of different opinions and interpretations.

Get help

Step-by-step guidance for use of Blackboard Collaborate, including technical requirements and a 24/7 test session, can be found in the Participants section of the Blackboard Collaborate Resource Centre.

Discussion forum tasks

Activities offered within a seminar can also be delivered in a text-based discussion forum, meaning that you can participate from any location and without needing to be online at the same time as your classmates.

Tips for taking part

Your tutor will structure activities and present questions, situations or academic content for you to reflect upon. When studying through a discussion forum you can:

  • Take your time. Use a discussion forum’s flexibility to craft a thoughtful response to the task.
  • Engage and encourage your classmates. Acknowledge good ideas and questions and reflect upon and respond to their contributions. Make suggestions around how they can take their ideas further. Remember: be kind!
  • Share resources and examples. Bring your ideas to life by linking to additional literature, realworld examples, and media such as images and video.

Get help

Step-by-step guidance for use of Moodle Discussion Forums can be found in a Moodle Docs Using Forum article.

Tutorials, project/PhD supervisions, and one-to-one meetings

One-to-one meetings, including tutorials and project or PhD supervisions, can be delivered using a range of familiar tools.

By phone

A meeting or conversation may take place over the phone, but personal mobile phone numbers should not be shared. A better option is to use a phone conferencing platform.

Online meetings

Microsoft Teams may be used by tutors to schedule tutorials with students. If a Teams meeting is set up for you, you will be able to join the meeting by clicking a link provided in an email meeting invite without having to download the Teams app to your personal device. Alternatively, if you choose to download the Teams app you can log in using your UCL credentials and receive notifications regarding any scheduled meetings.

Get help

Short videos to support your use of Teams alongside a full user guide are available from Microsoft. For more information around taking part in meeting, review the Join a Teams Meeting article.

Digital skills to support you remotely

Sharing files and collaborating

OneDrive allows you to easily share a document or folder of documents with only the people you specify. You can give them ‘read only’ or ‘edit’ access.  You can also just use it as a place to save files privately.  It is backed up and secure and you don’t need to be on the UCL network to use it, you just need your Office 365 account (the same login details as you use for email).

Microsoft Teams is a chat-based workspace available through your Office 365 account. The focus is on chat but it is also designed so that several people can share and edit a Word or other Office document online and can share many other types of content such as OneNote notebooks. Chat can be text-based, audio or video. Anyone is able to create a team site and invite who they wish. This tool is ideal for study groups, tutorials, or just keeping in touch, and meetings can be recorded.

Many useful resources are available for helping you get started with Teams:

Accessing services and your N drive remotely

Desktop@UCL Anywhere allows you to access UCL resources available for students and your N drive remotely. You will need your UCL user ID and password.


If you produce material by hand drawing or handwriting, you may wish to create an electronic version that can be uploaded – for example to Moodle.  It’s a useful tool for creating and saving electronic documents that cannot easily be created in, for example, Word.

Microsoft Office Lens is a free mobile app (Android and iOS). Scan documents and export as an Image, PDF or editable Word file.

You use your camera to scan the document and then you can save the output in PDF, PowerPoint, Word format or as a digital photograph.  You can save the files to your OneDrive and from there they can be uploaded to Moodle if you wish or need.

Office Lens incorporates Optical Character Recognition which means that it can try to read the document.  Sometimes a bad photocopied document can be quite successfully read – creating a new digital version.

Developing your digital skills

If you need to develop your digital skills to support your studies or research there are a number of resources available to you.

ISD Digital Skills Development Training Course Guides

Guides and resources used for the face-to-face training courses offered by the ISD Digital Skills Development training programmes are available to all students. You can access these by self-enrolling onto the following two Moodle courses:

Microsoft Training and Support

Microsoft offer plenty of resources to support you with using their applications including:

LinkedIn Learning

All UCL staff and students have unlimited access to LinkedIn Learning, an on-demand library of high-quality instructional videos covering a vast range of software, business and creative skills. So whether you need to learn Excel, Microsoft Teams, Endnote, SPSS or coding you are likely to find a course which is suitable for you. To log in you just need to use your UCL user ID and password. For more information and the link to log in see our ISD LinkedIn Learning web page.

Some specific collections you might find useful are:

External resources

This free online course from the University of Leeds enables you to discover techniques and skills for learning online as part of your university studies.