Studying Remotely

If you’re used to studying on campus, or in a classroom environment, you might find the transition to studying at home comes with new challenges. There are a few things that you can do to get yourself in the studying mindset. 

You will access your online learning through Unilearn. This is the umbrella term for the integrated system which supports USW learning and teaching activities through technology.  FAQs and guidance on Blackboard, Turnitin and Blackboard Collaborate are available on the IT Services website.   

Studying at home and maintaining concentration over time can be difficult, but there are things you can do to help you stay focused: 

Create a study area

Try to create an area where you can study with minimal distraction. If you are living with others, try to agree a set time that the space is yours alone. Keeping your study space clean, tidy and comfortable will make for a calmer environment and enable you to focus on your studies.

Manage your time

Divide your work into manageable time slots and take proper breaks. Recognise that different tasks require different levels of concentration. Watching a video can be easier than reading a complex text and taking notes.

Have a virtual study session with friends 

A virtual Pomodoro study session with your friends may help deepen your understanding of a subject. Pomodoro sessions, based on the Pomodoro Technique, prioritise working for 25 minute bursts with five-minute breaks in between. Use your preferred video-calling app; when the 25-minute study session begins, work “together” silently. When your five-minute break begins, take the time to chat together until the next study session starts.  

Prioritise tasks

You may find that you have good days where you’re highly motivated to get through work and bad days where your motivation is nowhere to be found. When work seems impossible, prioritise what you must get done that day - get through high priority tasks, and then let yourself have some time off.

Have a daily routine

Having a daily routine can help reduce stress levels. It can help us to cope with change, to form healthy habits, and aid our mental health. Coping with unpredictable periods of time can feel more doable when we have a little structure in place.

Schedule time for relaxing

Taking a break from studying gives your mind a chance to digest the information it’s been processing. Choose a healthy reward like going for a walk, practice mindfulness, bake your favourite recipe, or check in with friends.

Be kind to yourself

Don’t beat yourself up for not getting through your entire to-do list! It’s okay to expect less from yourself right now.

Try to manage your time as best you can, keep studying, engaging with your lecturers, and doing as well as possible in your assessments. We don’t want you to be worrying that you’ll end up with a lower result because the Coronavirus situation has disrupted your home life.

The University will look to see how we can best support you and mitigate any unnecessary effects to your studies.  If you need to, you can also apply for extenuating circumstances – the Advice Zone can help you with this.   

You may not have the perfect workplace or equipment for studying at home. If you can, try and use a supportive chair as opposed to sitting on the sofa, or in your bedroom. If that's not possible, consider using a stand-up desk. Get up regularly (every 25 minutes) to stretch.

Watch the following video for advice on home studying laptop ergonomics - basic tips, to minimise aches, pains and injury whilst studying from home.



When listening to or watching an online lecture, it’s a good idea to continue to take notes as you would in class. Do the relevant reading beforehand and ask questions if there is anything you aren’t sure about.

Ensure you log onto Blackboard regularly, to see the most up-to-date information that has been posted by your Faculties. 

It's important you check your USW email account regularly as it is the primary official communications tool the University will use to contact you. 

Reaching out and staying connected with staff and other students can maintain a sense of community.

Staying in touch can also help ease any feelings of loneliness you and others may experience while in isolation. Skype and social media tools are great for enabling you to coordinate video chats with groups of people. You can use these tools to set up study groups with coursemates to discuss ideas, analyse texts together or swap study tips. This is a great way to maintain social contact and keep in touch with other students in your class.

Many of our Support Services can provide you with advice and support via Advice Zone Online, email and telephone.

30 Minute Wellbeing Advice telephone and Microsoft Teams appointments are available and can be booked via Advice Zone Online.

When you take part in online learning, it is important to remember to use language and behaviour that are appropriate and accessible. We often refer to this as ‘Netiquette’. The following guidelines have been designed to help you get the best from online communication for learning and teaching whether that is in real time, using tools like Blackboard Collaborate, or asynchronously (self-paced) using discussion boards, blogs or lecture recordings for example.

These guidelines should be read in conjunction with the University’s IT Policies and Regulations and Student Charter.

  • Before you start, check what tools you need and make sure you know how to access them. There is plenty of help available on the IT Induction pages and don’t be afraid to ask your tutor. They are there to help you.
  • Check you understand what the expectations are for engaging online for each of your modules. How often should you be taking part in a discussion board for example or how long will each online activity take? During a live session, check how you should ask a question or whether you should keep your microphone on mute.
  • Be an active learner – this means taking part regularly and being prepared to share your opinions and ideas whilst also taking on board and responding appropriately to others’ views and comments.
  • Act professionally and respectfully at all times. Only say or write things that you would say in person and remember where you are – for example, the way you speak with your peers and your lecturers on a discussion board in Blackboard or during a Collaborate tutorial will be quite different to what you might say to your friends on more informal social media platforms. This applies whether or not you can be identified or remain anonymous.
  • You may also find it helpful to refer to our guide on using getting the best from Collaborate.
  • Avoid using acronyms or jargon – not everyone will understand and may feel excluded or at a disadvantage. Similarly, use emoticons, capital letters and exclamation marks in moderation.
  • Recordings – all Collaborate sessions at USW will be recorded unless your lecturer explains otherwise. If you do not want to be recorded, make sure you tell your lecturer in advance. They will be able to advise you how you can get the best out of a session.
  • If you need to contact your tutor, remember to check how you can contact them, when they are available and when you should expect a reply. This will usually be within 2 working days. You’ll find this information in the module on Blackboard.
  • Remember any written, audio or visual communication are for personal use only and should NOT be shared outside the module – this includes screenshots, recordings of live sessions, or any other communication or content. Such use contravenes the terms of the University’s CLA Licence.
  • Data protection – the University takes data protection seriously and will take care to use your data carefully. This includes data collected as part of normal learning and teaching. For further information about how we use your data, please see the Student Privacy Notice.