- Sue Beckingham
Sue Beckingham, Principal Lecturer in Business Information Systems and Technology, Sheffield Hallam University
How can students plan tasks, share work online, schedule and run online meetings whilst staying digitally connected through messaging services? And what tools are available to help with managing time and staying motivated?
Project planning tools such as Trello and Slack are useful for planning tasks and organising work. These can help your group capture all the tasks that need doing and track what has been done.
Trello https://trello.com/ allows you to work collaboratively by using task boards, lists and cards to organise and prioritise your work. It integrates with many other apps such as Slack, Dropbox and Google Drive to name a few and can be accessed on the go via a mobile app or through the browser allowing users to update projects with ease.
Slack https://slack.com/intl/en-gb/is also another powerful tool that can be downloaded as an app or accessed through the browser. Slack allows you to communicate and collaborate in one place by organising different chat channels. Files can be shared and video meetings integrated via various platforms.
Collaborative work spaces for group work
Collaborative work spaces such as OneDrive https://onedrive.live.com/about/en-gb/ & Google Drive https://www.google.com/drive/are the perfect tools to work remotely on individual and group projects. You can access your files from anywhere with internet access.
You can share your files with your friends with just a few simple clicks, setting permissions for friends to view, edit and comment on your stuff. And thirdly they can encourage open discussion. You can create and reply to comments to get feedback and make files more collaborative.
Doodle(https://doodle.com/en_GB/) and Calendly (https://calendly.com/) can provide a quick way to find the best time slot for groups to meet online, without the need for back and forth emails or messages.
Online meeting platforms including Zoom https://zoom.us/, Skype https://www.skype.com/en/ and Google Hangouts https://hangouts.google.com/ are effective for learning when you have group work/ assignments and for contacting peers/ tutors.
Zoom is an easy, reliable cloud platform for video and audio meetings across mobile devices, desktops, telephones, and room systems. The free plan allows group video meetings for up to 40 minutes, screen sharing and 1:1 meetings.
Skype is accessed online and works across multiple devices. Skype messaging and HD voice and video calling will help you share your findings/ideas and get group work done with others. It allows individual conversations, group conversations for up to 50 people and is free to use.
Google Hangouts facilitates messaging, video chatting and phone calls. The key features include conversations up to 150 people, video chats up to 10 people.
Studying alone can help you focus but it can also be isolating. Make use of chat to check in on peers and see how they are. Use group chat to keep everyone in your group informed and to take stock of your progress towards forthcoming assignments.
You will be familiar with apps like WhatsApp, Messenger and Twitter for keeping in touch socially with friends and they are also a good to use for group work. Discord https://discordapp.com/allows users to chat via text, voice or video call from anywhere. Users can create their own chat groups and invite others to it and you can see when others are online in the chat and instantly join in to speak. It is widely used in the gaming community, but easily applied to students for group work or for effective communication.
Self motivation / Time tracking
Carve out some space for study time. This will be harder if you are doing this at home or in halls where there may be multiple distractions. Here are some tools to keep you on track:
Toggl https://www.toggl.com/ allows users to track the number of hours they’ve spent on a project across multiple devices. With Toggl you can start timers, integrate it with over 100 online apps and add your hours to a calendar to keep track of what you’ve been working on. It will also identify any idle time so you can decide what to do with it later to keep you motivated.
The Pomotodo technique https://pomotodo.com/ is a time management strategy that may help keep you motivated when not in the classroom environment.
It is important we all look after both our physical and mental wellbeing in this unprecedented situation. Reach out to friends you have not heard from and check they are ok.
Student Minds https://www.studentminds.org.uk/coronavirus.html
Big White Wall https://www.bigwhitewall.com/
Fika – Mental Fitness https://www.fika.community/
We hope this has been useful. Stay well and keep on studying.
This blog has been adapted from an original article written by Matty Trueman, Kai Ackroyd, Curtis Alexis-Jones and Gagan Warinch, students at Sheffield Hallam University – with their kind permission to publish. To see the original blog click here.