Frequently asked questions about online learning

We’ve provided you with some FAQs around software and systems you’ll use with your online learning.


I need access to specialised software to complete my studies. What is happening? 

The University IT Service is working closely with academic colleagues to confirm which software applications are required for our taught students. As a priority, this will focus on software that is necessary for undergraduate and taught postgraduate final year assessments, including project work and dissertations. Each software application is being assessed on an individual basis to look at the current availability of off-campus access and options to improve this if required. 

Where can I find details of which software is available off-campus? 

Information will be published on the software availability page as soon as it is available. 

I am unsure if I need specialised software for my studies. Who should I contact? 

If you are unsure what specialised software you require for your studies, you should contact your module or programme leader in the first instance. 

How long will it take for me to get access to this software? 

The assessment and prioritisation of software applications is an ongoing priority for University IT and academic colleagues. Some software is already available for off-campus use, whilst other applications will require the development of new technical solutions that are being investigated as a matter of priority. We are also in contact with all our software suppliers to seek amendments to the license conditions where required. 

I have been informed that I will not be able to access software I need, what should I do? 

In all cases University, IT is endeavouring to secure solutions to enable your study and assessment. However, for some software applications this may not be possible immediately, or in some cases at all. In such cases, you should be informed by your module leader of alternative arrangements for learning, teaching, and assessment. 

Who should I contact about specialised software? 

In the first instance, you should contact your module leader. They will confirm arrangements for access to the software, or alternatives (e.g. amendments to learning, teaching, and assessment should off-campus access prove to be impossible). 

I need specific, technical help with a specialised software application. Who can assist me? 

In the first instance, please use the search function on the IT webpage and other sources of online help. If you still need assistance about the use of a particular software application, please contact your module leader in the first instance. 

I don’t have access to the software I need, should I buy it myself? 

If you believe you need access to software you cannot currently access; in the first instance, you should contact your module leader. We do not advise purchasing your own software as it may not be compatible with the version used for your module and the University cannot guarantee to reimburse any costs. Your module leader will only require you to use software that you can access from off-campus. 

I used to use software on Desktop Anywhere but can no longer connect to this service. What do I do? 

The current Desktop Anywhere service has a fixed capacity which is insufficient to meet the demand of all staff and students working from off-site. The University IT Service has now launched a virtual desktop to provide remote access to some software applications. 

I need to access a software license via the VPN service, but cannot get a connection. What should I do next? 

The current virtual private network (VPN) service has a fixed capacity which is insufficient to meet the demand of all staff and students working from off-site. The capacity has already been increased by 300% and further options to provide even more connections are being investigated as a matter of priority. 


Why does my lecture recording need captions? 

Our drive to produce captions for audio-video recordings is part of our inclusive teaching practice strategy. Captions on audio-video recordings help to improve engagement and provide you with a more flexible, inclusive learning experience and are an essential resource for some students. We are also required to provide captions on video recordings as part of the new Web Accessibility legislation, which comes into force in September 2020. 

How will I know if captions are available on my recordings in Minerva? 

If captions are available on a recording a ‘CC’ button will be present next to the volume indicator in the Mediasite player. Once clicked the captions will appear on the lecture recording. 

Can I turn the captions off? 

Captions can be turned on or off using the ‘CC’ button next to the volume indicator in the Mediasite player. 

Can I download the captions as a transcript? 

No, a transcript will not be available on a video to download. However you can contact the content owner (the lecturer who posted the video) for a transcript but it will not be 100% accurate, do not use it as the sole source of the truth you should check the statements in the transcript against other sources. 

How accurate are the captions? 

Captions will be created automatically by a machine and will contain mistakes. The accuracy of the captions produced will depend on the ability of the machine to understand the voice of the presenter and the quality of the audio available.  It is important to remember to not use these captions as a sole source of truth. You should check the statements in the captions against other sources, such as the lecture materials (e.g. slides, notes etc.), and using validated sources. 

Will someone be checking the captions? 

As over 40,000 hours of lectures are produced each year, we are not able to check all automated captions. If you have concerns about the inaccuracy of captions please contact the Disability Services or your lecturer or module leader. 

How quickly will captions appear on a recording? 

It will take on average 24 hours for captions to appear on a recording once it has been published. 

Learning and teaching 

Are all my lectures and teaching going be delivered online? 

Please see our student advice page that covers online learning support. 

Is attendance monitored for online sessions? 

You should make every effort to attend any live online sessions, and attendance will be monitored as usual for timetabled sessions. Your School will provide clear expectations for your engagement in online learning activities and will monitor your engagement for attendance monitoring purposes. 

If you are unable to attend or engage online due to not having access to the Internet or a digital device off-campus, then please contact your school as soon as possible. 

I don’t have access to the Internet and/or a computer at home, how will I access my learning? 

We recognise that not all students have access to the internet and/or digital devices at home, and are taking steps to ensure that we can support you to access teaching in the event of campus being unavailable. 

Please contact your school as soon as possible to let them know of any restrictions on your ability to access online learning off-campus.   

What will happen with my personal tutor sessions? 

Personal tutor sessions may take place via Microsoft Teams. Your tutor will provide more information.