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A Student’s Online Learning Survival Guide

Advice for teaching and learning online, from the current students of MA Photojournalism and Documentary Photography (online).
photo collage by Naron Perez Iguaran
Photocollage by Naron Perez Iguaren

The participants on the online Masters in Photojournalism and Documentary Photography at LCC are dispersed throughout the world. They have ranged from veteran full time Reuters and AP photographers, to UN photographers based in Darfur, Sudan, to an environmental photographer in landlocked Manaus Brazil, to a social documentary photographer in Hackney, London. The course is delivered part time over two years, and relies extensively on live real-time web-conferencing for tutorials and lectures using Blackboard Collaborate. The course typically has between 15-20 participants in each year group, and has a very high retention and attainment rate which is directly comparable to the full-time version of the same course delivered in London.

We reached out to our current cohort to ask them for their hints and tips on learning online and how to manage their time and resources.

Keep in touch

  • Have a Facebook messaging group, Slack group or another channel to keep in touch with each other that you manage as a group. Be active and engaged on it.
  • Engage with classmates as much as possible, give as much feedback to each other as possible. 
  • Try to go to tutorial sessions even if you have no new work to share, to see what your peers are doing and learn from them, and help critique their work.
  • Find an effective student leader/course rep.
  • Trust each other.

Web conferencing tips

  • Try to attend live sessions rather than relying on recorded sessions, it’s an opportunity to ask questions, engage and get feedback. If people attend everyone benefits.
  • Use external headphones with a mic so your voice doesn’t echo in the background and others don’t hear all your background noise.
  • Never be afraid to ask questions for clarity.
  • Use the chat/text box to ask questions or give feedback.
  • Avoid other online distractions (turn your phone off if needed).
  • Try not to multitask in sessions, concentrate on the class.
  • Make a summary/notes of lectures as they are going on.

  • It takes concentration to absorb online lessons, consider listening back to recordings more than once.

  • If you’ve missed sessions for a couple of weeks find time one evening to go back and review before everything piles up.

  • Go back and review old recordings in the archive if you have time.
  • Get dressed! Helps you to pay attention and take the session seriously.
  • Take breaks!

Workflow tips

  • Find a good platform to share your work, for example Pixieset, Squarespace, Google Photos, UAL Portfolio and UAL Workflow .
  • Suggest e-book purchases and other resources for the library to arrange access to.
  • Plan time for things like research, have goals for each study session.
  • Plan ahead.

Lewis Bush and Paul Lowe

Lewis Bush

Photographer, writer, curator and lecturer.

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