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Top tips for joining online sessions

It’s safe to say that we’ll all be joining live online sessions through one of the many tools avaiable. Whether it’s through Collaborate Ultra, Zoom, Skype or another platform it helps to know what’s expected and how you can participate successfully.

Before the session

  • Find a quiet space where you can concentrate fully.
  • Make sure you have a reliable Internet connection.
  • If possible use a USB headset with a microphone.
  • Test the audio and video before you start.
  • Make sure you are familiar with the platform controls etc.
  • Add a profile image to create a friendlier more connected environment (nothing too weird!).
  • In the session

  • Mute your microphone and turn off your video when you join.
  • Check to see if there are any instrcutions or starter activities on screen.
  • Introduce yourself (if appropriate) or say your name when you speak for the first time.
  • Avoid interrupting other speakers and mute your mic while wiaiting.
  • Use the platform features such as chat or raising your hand to ask questions.
  • Audio and video tips

  • Don’t shout into your mic – just speak clearly in your normal voice.
  • Only turn on video when necessary or instructed to do so.
  • Position your webcam so the top half of your body is visible.
  • Be aware of what is behind you when your camera’s on. We can all see it!!!
  • Avoid busy virtual backgrounds – a plain background is best.
  • In some ways it’s easier to hide in an online session but the same manners apply as they do in person.
    Be polite, respect others and be prepared to contribute!

    How to stay connected online

    Are you finding it hard to study online? Sitting behind a screen can make you feel alone but the good news is that these days you have more ways to connect than ever before. Here are a few things you can do to stay fully connected with your course.

    Make a study plan
    Study takes time and effort so it’s important to plan your week. Make a weekly schedule of sessions to attend or participate in and the amount of time you plan to spend on each unit. Don’t forget to include deadlines for assessment tasks. Commit yourself to specific times to do the set reading, review your notes, conduct research and prepare for the weekly content in each unit. Be ready to participate in online discussion and ask questions.

    Be disciplined
    It’s so important to log in to Blackboard daily and check your QUT email. Staying up to date with unit announcements, new discussion posts and content will help you learn as well as deepen your connection with the online community. Develop your own strategy for working through the resources and posts so that you keep on top of anything new.

    Be active
    Set yourself up for success by contributing to online discussions, asking questions, and responding to fellow students. The more you engage, the more you’ll feel connected to your peers as well as the content. Make the most of apps, discussion boards, videos and other technology that helps you get involved. Make an effort to interact with your lecturers, tutors and peers whenever you have the opportunity. It’s easy to sit back and remain passive but that won’t get you the results you’re after!

    Stick together
    One of the best things about being a student is that you’re never alone! Take advantage of fellow students who truly understand the pressure of study because they’re experiencing it too. Use this opportunity to work with and learn from others. Group work can give you a wide range of perspectives and help strengthen your own knowledge. Make the most of the technology available to set up a virtual study group.

    AskQUT
    As a QUT student you have access to so many wonderful resources and support networks. It can be easy to feel overwhelmed, but the first step is often just asking a simple question. HiQ Chat is a good starting point for general questions or Chat with a Librarian for information on resources, research and referencing.

    So, don’t let sitting in front of a screen prevent you from feeling connected to your study. Make the most of your peers, university staff and technology to successfully study online.

    Preparation is the key to exams

    There’s so much you can do to make exam time easier. Preparation is truly the key to exam success, yet the reality is, many students leave revision until the week, or night before the exam itself.
    Here are a few common strategies to help get you in the zone:

    Before the exam

  • Plan out your time using a study planner or time management app.
  • Try to remove distractions so you remain focused.
  • Make notes and then make notes of notes.
  • Find out what type of exam it is and if there are past papers you can look at.
  • Check where and what your exam is and note the details.
  • Check Blackboard for notes or guides from your lecturers on what to study.
  • Eat healthily and sleep well, also try to limit your alcohol intake.
  • Exercise and look after yourself.
  • Study with friends.
  • The night before the exam – pack the things you need in your bag: pens, pencils, calculator, water, student ID, snacks and briefly look over your notes. Set an alarm and then allow yourself time to relax.
  • On the day of the exam – leave home early, take your bag, and remember to breathe.
  • During the exam

  • Read all the questions and if allowed, mark the ones you are confident answering.
  • When allowed, write down anything you can think of in bullet point form while reading the exam paper.
  • Look at how much questions are worth, allocate your time, and answer accordingly.
  • Work logically through the questions you know you can answer and then work on the remaining questions.
  • Don’t get distracted by other people. They have their own strategy for answering questions, so you shouldn’t compare yourself with them.
  • Check out QUT’s guide for preparing for exams to access more resources.

    Five apps for dealing with exam stress

    Exams coming up? For most of us the pressure of exams and final assessment submissions cause some level of stress. Stress is your response to pressure and while a small amount can be useful to keep you focused if it becomes too much exam revision can seem impossible.

    The good news is that there are so many apps out there to help deal with this intense time:

    Exam Countdown is a free app to keep track of exam and assessment dates. It provides a handy visual reminder of all your important upcoming dates. You can keep focused by easily checking how much time you’ve got to revise before you sit each exam. We love the fact that you can colour code all your exams and tests and use icons as a quick visual reference for each unit. You can also add notes to remind yourself of anything you need to bring on the day. Available on both Android and iOS.

    Mind mapping is a great study method as it helps organise your thoughts, spark your memory and come up with new ideas. With SimpleMind you can create your own mind maps, or choose one of the auto layouts and fill it in. If you like finding creative ways to revise for exams then this app is for you. The free version does plenty but the full version is reasonably priced too. Available on all platforms.

    Studies show that meditation can help you stay on task longer, switch between things less frequently and enjoy your tasks more. Headspace is a popular app, with meditations to help you through all phases of your life. The Focus pack can help you de-clutter your thoughts and sharpen your concentration, even under pressure. Try the free version or access hundreds of hours of extra content when you subscribe.

    Take a deep breath. Calm is both a call to action and a defining feature of the app’s approach to mindfulness and meditation. It’s message is simply “you’re going to get through this, and all you need to start is a moment”. There are so many new apps for meditation and mindfulness, but Calm stands out for its ease of use and attention to (soothing) detail. Try the free version on Android or iOS.

    PAUSE is based on the ancient principles of Tai Chi and mindfulness practice. When you want to shake off your stress and start relaxing, this app can work wonders. Against a backdrop of soothing music, you move your finger slowly across your screen, being careful not to speed up your pace. This triggers the body’s ‘rest and digest’ response which helps you regain focus and release stress within minutes. Check it out on Android or iOS!

    Don’t forget that QUT also provides free, confidential counselling services for current students!

    Top apps for being organised

    We all know that one of the keys to student success is being organised but it’s not always easy to achieve. Most of us are trying to balance study with work, family, sport, socialising and other commitments so it often feels like a juggling act. Luckily there’s a range of free online tools to help you feel organised in all areas of your life.

    We’ve chosen a few of our favourite apps to get you started:

    In the second half of semester assessments can take priority but it’s also important to plan for exams. Exam Countdown helps you organise and prioritise your time in the lead up to exams.

    Todoist links with the apps you already use so that you have one central, organised hub for getting things done.

    Take your notes everywhere and access them across all of your devices with Evernote. You can also add photos and audio recordings to help revise for each of your units.

    Use Brainscape to create your own flashcards of terminology or key theories and test yourself. You can also share your lists and browse existing cards. This is great for medical terminology in particular.

    Music makes the world go round and it has also been proven to help you focus. Find your own study playlist on Spotify to help you get in the zone.

    And remember to look after your wellbeing with some stress busters. Calm is an amazing app for wellbeing and mindfulness with 100+ guided meditations.

    Don’t forget, if you feel that you have too much to cope with it’s ok to ask for help. QUT has a range of support resources and confidential counseling.

    Stress less – take control of your life

    It’s that time of semester when the workload starts mounting and exams are looming. It’s natural to feel anxious about everything you’ve got going on but the key is not to let things overwhelm you.

    Try these simple strategies to help you stress less and feel more in control.

    Be active
    Try not to let your assignments and exam revision take over your whole life. Maintain a balance and continue to do things that you enjoy. Spend time doing activities that will relax you, such as listening to music, going for a walk, cooking or catching up with friends.

    Make a plan
    It sounds simple enough but it’s surprising how many students actually don’t plan their time. Make a plan for the days leading up to your assessment deadlines and exams so that you can manage your time effectively. Divide your day into study blocks and dedicate each one to a different unit. Make sure you also include time for work, relaxing, family, friends and SLEEP.

    Get enough sleep
    We all know how important sleep is but when you’re stressed it’s easy to stay up late finishing assignments or cramming for exams. Sometimes it’s better to stop what you’re doing and tackle it again after a good sleep. Make sure you get plenty of rest leading up to exams, especially the night before. When you feel refreshed and energised you can think more clearly.

    Look after your body
    Good nutrition is not only essential for your physical health but it also plays a significant role in maintaining your mental health. It may be tempting to reach for fast food or quick snacks from the vending machine but you’re better off choosing with some brain boosting ingredients like nuts, seeds, fruit and whole grains. Avoid having too much caffeine as it can work against you by increasing your stress levels and anxiety.

    Talk to others
    Often when you’re really stressed it seems as though everyone else has things under control. That’s usually not the case and chances are that your friends and classmates are also feeling some pressure. By opening up and talking about your concerns you can help each other put things into perspective and manage your concerns.

    We all cope with things differently but if you feel that you have too much to cope with it’s important to ask for help. QUT has a range of support resources and confidential counseling.