At Westminster we have been utilising digital and web-based technologies for many years to support our students’ learning. While the restrictions related to the COVID-19 pandemic remain in place, we will continue to rely on and improve these technologies to support your learning. We are therefore providing guidance on how to make this work as effectively as possible for you.
Staff at Westminster have spent a lot of time adapting modules and courses to ensure that you can access the resources you need in a structured way. You will need to be online for live classes, to engage with other students, and for research. However, it is important to realise that, although the term ‘online learning’ is widely used, you do not need to be online to be learning. Many of the learning activities that you engage in may take place offline, including reading, writing and thinking.
If you’re joining Westminster as a new student this year, you can take advantage of the introductory skills sessions being offered as part of the Westminster Welcome Festival.
There are also pre-arrival online learning modules available in Blackboard that will continue to be available after arrivals. You can access these by going to https://learning.westminster.ac.uk and signing in with your University username and password. When you have signed in, find the link (under 'My Modules and Courses' on the left) to Learning at Westminster. When in the Blackboard pre-arrival experience, work through the Learning at University materials.
We're using Blackboard Ultra as the main platform for learning, together with various additional digital tools, such as Collaborate, Panopto and Padlet, so that you can listen to lectures and join in with discussions.
You can find out more about all of these tools on our Blackboard Help pages.
If you’re joining us as a new student this year, you’ll be able to access Blackboard after you’ve completed the online enrolment process.
Accessing resources and facilities
We're also adding thousands of ebooks and other resources to our online collections, details of which can be found on our regularly updated Libguides news page.
Your Westminster Home Drive
Simply log in to My Drive with your usual University credentials.
Careers support and resources
For details on the careers resources available and how to access our services, visit our Engage blog.
Interacting with staff and students on your course
Blackboard and our other digital tools provide plenty of opportunities for you to interact with lecturers and students on your course. Some sites have discussion board facilities and these can be a great way of asking questions, sharing ideas and discussing thoughts with your tutors.
If you engage actively with these communication channels, you'll find that the online platform can provide a supportive learning environment.
Your personal learning network
Try to establish your own personal network of contacts and links early on. It's really important that you stay in touch with your fellow students, using whatever networks or social media you prefer. These groups will become your own personal learning networks, where you can exchange ideas, share resources and air your frustrations!
Communicating through Blackboard and other digital platforms is different to face-to-face communication. While it's perfectly natural to be yourself and let your personality come through, make sure you always use appropriate language – and before posting anything, think about how your message could be interpreted by others.
What's the difference between a synchronous and an asynchronous session?
When all students and your lecturer are present at the same time, the learning may be described as synchronous. This can happen in an online environment, with live streaming of lectures or real-time seminars.
However, it is likely that much of your learning online will be asynchronous, which means that staff and students will be engaging at different times and from different places. This has many advantages because it means that you are not tied to particular times, so you can choose when to engage online.
Engaging in an asynchronous session means that you have time to reflect and think about your response (eg to a discussion board post) before having to post something yourself.
Key tips to study online effectively
Dealing with technical issues
Inevitably there will be some challenges as we all adjust to a new mode of teaching and learning. Your lecturers, tutors and learning support providers are adapting their teaching and their content to make it available online.
Try to be understanding as we transition to this new environment. We are developing as much self-help support as possible, with the answers to many frequently asked questions on our Blackboard Help pages.
Create a routine
Because there may not timetabled sessions on-campus it can be a challenge to develop a routine. Nevertheless, you should try to maintain some structure to your learning.
You should think about what works best for you, for example you might:
- develop your own timetable and allocate periods of the day to different tasks
- plan ahead for the whole of the semester
- use assessment deadlines as key milestones in your schedule
Most importantly, don’t allow yourself to fall behind, and support each other with encouragement and reminders.
Develop your own working pattern
As well as the importance of a routine, it's also important that you develop your own pattern of working. This includes having a space where you can work effectively.
Even if you live with others, try to find a small space where you can concentrate and work without excessive distractions.
By engaging positively with online learning, you can help to create a supportive online community and experience an enriching learning experience. We all need to help and support each other to get through the current difficult situation.
Look after your wellbeing
When you study remotely, it's important to look after your wellbeing. Do keep in touch with your lecturers and with your personal tutor.
If you have any personal concerns or questions that are getting in the way of your studies, you can contact your personal tutor. You can also find support and advice through the Student Hub.
Visit our Self-help resources page for self-help guides, podcasts, well being apps and more.
For tips on how to improve your comfort when using technology, have a look at the Healthy Working: MOVE online guide.
If concerns about Coronavirus may be impacting your mental wellbeing, the following external information and guidance related to Coronavirus may also be helpful:
Exams and assessments
For information about exams and assessments, visit our Exam FAQs page.
Accessing software to support your learning
As well as an array of software - see our software list below – Westminster students and colleagues have access to LinkedIn Learning, which holds thousands of online courses, covering a range of topics, including:
- software packages that you need to use at University
- skills relevant to business and management, technology, and the creative industries
- study skills, soft skills and personal productivity skills
- leisure interests such as photography, and learning a musical instrument
Find out more on our LinkedIn Learning page.
If you have a Windows 10 device, more than 170 applications – including many of those used on campus to support your courses – are available to you anytime and anywhere through AppsAnywhere.
To access AppsAnywhere, you'll just need to:
- open a web browser
- go to the AppsAnywhere site
- log in with your University username and your usual password. For your username, you should use 'w' and then the first seven numbers of your student ID (for example w1234567). Do not add @my.westminster.ac.uk
When you first launch AppsAnyWhere, you'll need to validate your device. This is quick and simple to do, but if you need help, contact the IT Service Desk.
If you need help using AppsAnywhere, have a look at our Guide to Using AppsAnywhere.
For a list of the applications available go to the AppsAnywhere University software page.
Note that AppsAnywhere provides enhanced security for all users and helps to prevent viruses and malware infecting your devices, as you don't need to download and install any software.
Software available to you
If you already have Creative Cloud apps on your computer
Simply sign out and then sign in again to activate the apps with your temporary license. For more guidance, visit the How to activate Adobe Creative apps page on the Adobe website.
If you want to download and install Creative Cloud apps
To download and install the apps, you'll need to do the following:
- Go to the Adobe Creative Cloud website
- Enter your University login name on the sign-in screen, in the format [your Uni ID number]@westminster.ac.uk, for example [email protected]
- If prompted, click on 'Company or School Account'
- If the University sign-in page appears, enter your usual University log-in details
- You should see the Creative Cloud welcome screen – click on 'Apps' at the top of the screen
- Click 'Install' for the app/s that you want to download and just follow the instructions
If you need more help downloading or installing apps, visit the Download and Install Creative Cloud Apps page on the Adobe website.
Autodesk provides open access to more than 100 products available to students and educators.
Find out more on the Autodesk website.
Klynt is an interactive storytelling tool allowing you to build and edit your storyboard, like a mind map that helps you organise your narrative structure.
We provide Klynt software for free for personal use on your own laptop or home computer.
You can down the software for free from our Web Store.
MATLAB is a high-performance language for technical computing from MathWorks. It integrates computation, visualisation, and programming in an easy-to-use environment.
All support for MATLAB installation is available from MathWorks. Visit MathWorks support for more information.
Find out more about this software and how to download it on our Matlab page.
For help with installing Matlab software, visit the Support page on the MathWorks website.
You can also access online training courses provided by MathWorks by visiting the MathWorks website.
NVivo is a software program used for qualitative and mixed-methods research. Specifically, it is used for the analysis of unstructured text, audio, video, and image data, including (but not limited to) interviews, focus groups, surveys, social media, and journal articles.
You can download NVivo software from our Web Store.
For information on using MS Office 365, visit our Microsoft Office 365 access page.
If you wish to download MS Office 365, we have extended our Office 365 licence to enable students to use OneDrive and download Office 365 for free on multiple devices.
When you get started with Office 365, you'll be able to co-edit your documents using Office applications online, in real time - anywhere, anytime, on any device.
SPSS (Statistical Product and Service Solutions) is a software for editing and analysing data.
We provide SPSS software for free for personal use on your own laptop or home computer.
You can down the software for free from our Web Store.