What online study is really like, according to our Head of Learning Tech


02nd Jun 2017


Studying online means interacting with course content via the internet.

In this interview, Head of Learning Technology Stephen Livesey talks about online learning and the technology we use to deliver our degree courses online.


What is a virtual learning environment?

The Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) is the platform we use to deliver all the resources a student will need to successfully complete their online programme. Students use the VLE to access their interactive lectures, submit assignments, interact with fellow students and much more!

The VLE has been designed to offer students an intuitive user experience and provides access to materials on a wide range of devices both on and offline. For example, you can study at home on your laptop, write some notes in your eBook on the train to work on your smartphone, then see the same notes on your PC at work.

All of our degree courses contain a mixture of self-paced learning, where students complete work independently, and real time learning, where a tutor logs onto the VLE and delivers a lecture or live classroom session. Live lectures are always recorded so if you can’t attend due to work or family commitments, you can watch later at another time.


What technology do you need to learn online?

You don’t need any special technology to learn online, you just need access to a computer with a reliable internet connection. I would recommend that you use a computer in a quiet study area when writing your assignments. However, you can access all the resources you’ll need on the go through a wide range of devices anytime, anywhere!


Are all of the online learning resources free?

There are no extra charges for using our VLE or accessing the resources through it. Also, all your core textbooks are provided free of charge in the form of an eBook and additional reading can be accessed through our online libraries. You shouldn’t need to buy any extra software for your computer either. If you have the standard Microsoft applications like Word and Excel, or even free OpenOffice software, you will be able to complete all of your work.


What support do online learners receive?

If you have any questions or problems when using the VLE, either my team or our Student Support team will be there to help you. The first module of your degree course has been designed to help you get to grips with the VLE and you will also have a welcome session with a Student Adviser that covers the key things you need to know.


How does studying a degree online compare to studying a Massive Open Online Course (MOOC)?

MOOCs are a great way to dip in and out of a subject you find interesting. However, the online courses we produce are designed to provide a more personalised learning experience with no more than 20 students per module. This results in high levels of interaction between you, your tutor and your fellow students.

Although our degree courses are delivered online, they meet the same academic standards as the degrees delivered on campus. All of our degrees are validated by the University of Essex and you will be invited to attend a graduation ceremony after successfully completing your course.


Can I try studying online before I start a course?

Yes! You can sign up to try a taster lecturecast, which is free for you to interact with. We also offer a 21-day money back guarantee on our undergraduate and postgraduate courses. You can find out more about how you will learn on our virtual learning environment in this video.


To find a course that is right for you, simply download a prospectus. If you have any questions about applying you can contact our friendly Admissions team