2020 has been an unusual for everyone due to Covid-19. Studying and working online is the new normal for most people.

My name is Dilin Chen and I am studying the Cass MSc in Entrepreneurship. I would like to share my online learning experiences, which might be beneficial for prospective students who might be wondering what it is like to learn online.

Moodle: an online hub of resources

We use the online platform Moodle as a support tool for in-class teaching. Since shifting to online learning, it has become even more important. It provides all the basic information you might need to know, such as your lecture timetable, information about your modules, the contact and the contact details of lecturers and students. It also allows you to choose elective modules, form groups for group coursework and provides you with the login information to access Zoom and Adobe Connect, which are the main softwares we use for online lectures. They both have important functions which are very useful to make the lectures interactive and to support students’ participation.

Zoom and Adobe Connect classes

Most of the lecturers encourage us students to turn on the video to see our facial expressions to understand whether we have questions or comments. This helps us to stay connected with the class and give our full attention and keep us motivated. During the class, we are encouraged to speak up and ask our lecturers questions like we would normally do in a face-to-face classes. If you feel shy to speak during the lecture, you could send an email or discuss the problem in Forum, which is a function allowing teachers and students to discuss on Moodle at the end of the class.

PowerPoint is available during classes and the lecturers sometimes use the polling function in Zoom to check how we are doing and understand our progress. If you have missed the lecture, you can watch a recorded version soon after class on Moodle

Some lectures provide pre-recorded videos to give more useful information. The reading list is mainly online, which can be found in the digital library provided by the School. We can also access a wide variety of resources, journal articles and digital books for all our subjects.

Beating shyness through interactive online learning

During my classes, the teachers make us use the break-out rooms function, which allows us to work in small online groups to discuss given questions. Here, the teachers randomly select people to join the group discussion. I find this method very powerful because it allows me to step out of my comfort zone by chatting to people I might not normally chat to and make new friends. It is such a gift to study with people from all different backgrounds and nationalities, which is very beneficial to learn about different thinking styles and cultures and keep me connected to my peers.

I am an introvert, which sometimes make me afraid to speak out in front of people in class. In the online learning setting, I feel more confident to ask questions and have more interactions with my lecturers.

Online careers support

The Careers and Professional Development Team have been great at keeping us informed with job offers and providing one-to-one online meeting sessions to help us shape our careers. The careers coaching advisors have been available throughout and have been an excellent resource to help me edit my CV and cover letter as well as discussing my options for career development. There are also a lot of careers coaching events being hosted by the Cass Careers Team.

I have been positively surprised by this new experience of online learning. I have really appreciated it so far, as well as the opportunity to study from home.

Dilin Chen, MSc Entrepreneurship (2020)