Preparing for an online class
Some of your classes at the Business School may take place online. The three platforms available to staff for running online classes and events are Blackboard Collaborate Ultra, Microsoft Class Teams and Zoom. This page will help you to familiarise yourself with those platforms, and effectively prepare for and participate in these classes.
Get to know the platform you're using
Your Module Leader should let you know what platform will be used for any online classes - if not we recommend you asking them to post a module announcement in Minerva - this will give you and others the opportunity to view the relevant page in the Digital Tools section of this site to practice using the platform yourselves before a class. Select the links below to learn more about each platform.
Preparing for your class
The recommendations below will help to make sure that you are prepared for an online class. Some steps need only to be followed once, and others may have to be undertaken regularly throughout the academic year as you attend different classes for different modules. Select each recommendation to expand it and show more information.
Learn what platform you're using and practice using it
Your Module Leader should tell you which platform they are using to run any online classes - if not we recommend asking them to post a module announcement so that you and your fellow students can use the Digital Tools pages of this site to learn more about the platform and practice using it.
Learn how to join the class
Your Module Leader should post a link to join the online class somewhere in the module area in Minerva, they may also post a module announcement telling you where to find the link. If your Module Leader has chosen to use Microsoft Teams to host virtual classrooms a link to join the session should be found in the relevant channel. Note down where the link is to avoid clicking through the module area in Minerva moments before the class.
Complete any activities or quizzes before the class
Your tutor or lecturer might ask you to complete a reading or participate in an activity in the days leading up to an online class - in doing so they anticipate that all students will arrive at the class prepared to participate in a discussion or activity to help apply what they have learned.
Doing your best to effectively manage your time will allow you enough time to reflect on what your lecturer has asked you to do. This is the best way to ensure you arrive at the timetabled class fully prepared to get the most value out of the activity that follows.
Download the resources you need
You may need to refer to slides or readings throughout the online class to inform and guide your discussion points.
Try to download any resources before the class - this will help preserve your connection to the online class during teaching and will ensure that you remain focussed on the topic(s) being discussed.
Test and improve your connection to the Internet
The quality of your connection to the internet will impact your connection to an online class and we recommend taking these steps to make the most of the connection available to you:
- Plug your router directly into your computer or laptop
- If you rely on a wireless network connection, make efforts to reduce the distance and obstructions, such as walls, between your device and the router
- Shut down other applications on your device that also use the internet such as Spotify, Netflix and Outlook
- Make your housemates / family aware of the times when you will be participating in an online class and help them understand that streaming media might negatively impact your connection to it
- A Broadband speed checker can help you to establish whether you are getting the speeds you'd expect from your Internet supplier.
Attending your class
The recommendations below will make sure that you follow good webinar etiquette and could help you maintain a stable connection to your class. Select each recommendation to expand it and show more information.
Find the right environment
If you can, find a quiet space where you have some room to take notes during your online class. We understand that this might not always be possible - so if you are struggling to do so, try to mitigate any environmental noise by using a pair of earphones or a headset.
If you are sharing your webcam try to ensure you are facing a natural or artificial light source - this will ensure that you are well lit and that other participants will be able to see you more clearly than if there was a bright window behind you.
Login to Minerva and navigate to the Join Link at least five minutes before the class begins. Make sure that you have all offline and paper documents that you will need for the class.
Doing so will give you plenty of time to settle into your environment, join the class and make sure that your audio and video works.
Mute your microphone on entry
When you arrive in the class it is good online etiquette for your microphone to be muted.
Wait for the lecturer or tutor to ask you to enable your microphone, or use the Chat or 'Raise Hand' feature to inform them that you wish to speak.
Use earphones and a microphone
Using earphones will allow you to focus on your class without being interrupted by noise coming from your immediate environment. Even better would be to use a pair of earphones that have an integrated microphone such as a headset, or like most bluetooth earphones and earphones that come with a smartphone. We understand that not everybody has access to equipment like this - this is not a requirement to participate in an online class.
However, using earphones can help to avoid 'feedback loops', where audio is sent by your microphone to your speakers repeatedly because they are too close to each other.
Use a virtual background
If your broadband speed is good enough to share your webcam then you might choose to use a virtual background - this can give you a little added privacy in not showing the background of wherever you are, but can also be a chance for your personality to shine through.
Mitigating a poor connection
After having taken the above steps to test and improve your connection to the internet, you may still experience a poor connection to an online class. If this occurs regularly, you may wish to try the following:
- Turn off your webcam, and if possible ask others to switch theirs off also (may only be applicable in small groups)
- Avoid using Gallery Mode in Zoom and Together Mode in Teams, both of which require higher bandwidth
- Reboot your device and router
- Try a different device or web browser
- Join from another location using a different internet connection. See where to study on campus for help finding a location to join an online class
There are many sources of support at the University of Leeds. Use the links below to access help. However, if you are continuing to struggle to engage with online classes, you should speak to your Module Leader or Personal Tutor.
We have gathered some advice for you to follow to help you make initial efforts to troubleshoot and resolve technical issues you encounter.
The University of Leeds IT Service can help you resolve technical problems when accessing University systems, including Minerva.
If you are feeling anxious, and need to speak to a member of staff. The Student Support team are here to help - and to signpost you to further sources of support.