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Digital learning and self-development
This aspect of digital literacy is connected with your effective use of technology for formal and informal lifelong learning. It's highly likely that most or all of your learning materials will be provided in the University's e-learning system, known as vUWS (opens in a new window) (pronounced 'views').
Getting to know the systems the University uses will help you feel more comfortable. There is more information about University systems in the ICT Proficiency section of this site.
In order to really make the most of the online learning experience, you will need to understand your own preferred learning style. The way you like to learn encompasses things like:
- how you prefer to have information presented
(do you like to read and absorb first, do an activity, or just jump into a discussion?)
- the technique you use to understand and remember information
(do you make mind maps, or highlight and make notes for yourself?)
- the way in which you interact with other learners
(are you happy to share ideas with others before you fully understand the topic, or do you feel you have to have mastered something before you make a comment?)
Technology can be a major support to your learning and academic work, but if you haven't developed habits that suit your learning style you may find yourself struggling or feeling that technology is a hindrance.
Try these resources to find out what type of digital learning suits you best:
- Online quiz: What type of digital learner are you? (opens in a new window) (University of Exeter)
A common feature of online study is that your textbook or reading material is presented in ebook format. Check out our page about Using digital textbooks and the Library ebooks guide (opens in a new window) for access to a range of ebook platforms. The Library guide contains details about download and access in the major platforms we subscribe to (click the MyiLibrary tab).
Most people find it a very different experience when reading on screen, compared to reading a printed text. It might take practice and persistence to find what works for you. The Reading on Screen website (opens in a new window) offers some great advice on how to make reading on screen easier, including a handy Quick Guide (opens in a new window) (PDF, 470 kB).
One digital tool which encourages learning through self-reflection is an e-portfolio (opens in a new window) (PDF, 782 kB). You may be required to start one for your course, or you might like to produce one anyway - perhaps to record your personal learning journey or to capture achievements that potential employers will be interested in.
At Western Sydney University, we hope students will become lifelong learners. Lifelong learning is about learning as a continual process. Along the journey, lifelong learners discover new interests, build their knowledge, and strive to approach new tasks with an active, enquiring mind.
- There are many free courses online, which you can access to supplement your formal learning. Check out providers such as Coursera (opens in a new window), edX (opens in a new window), FutureLearn (opens in a new window), and make use of the University's free access to Lynda.com (register with your Western account (opens in a new window)).
- The University of Edinburgh's 23 Things for Digital Knowledge (opens in a new window) is a self-directed course which aims to expose you to a range of digital tools for your personal and professional development as a researcher, academic, student, or professional.
Personal learning networks
The amazing connectivity of the World Wide Web provides an opportunity for you to build a personal learning network (PLN (opens in a new window)). Tapping into the information and ideas that people with similar interests share through social networking platforms is an effective way to increase your understanding and find some really current research material too!
First, create an account on the social network platform. You could try LinkedIn (opens in a new window) or Twitter (opens in a new window), as these are very active. Hashtags (opens in a new window) are useful because they bring together all the posts that include that hashtag, so you can see a wide range of posts from people you might otherwise miss. We found a great infographic (Use Twitter for your Personal Learning Network (PLN) (opens in a new window)) by searching Twitter with #PLN.
- LinkedIn for students (opens in a new window) (LinkedIn Corporation, 2016)
- Twitter basics (opens in a new window) (UNSW, video, 3:54)
- 10 tips for students using Twitter (opens in a new window) (Be social. Be smart blog)
- Personal Learning Networks (opens in a new window) (Scoop.It)
Of course, the point is for you to participate, so don't just lurk on the sidelines! You can use these platforms to (politely) ask questions, find new research, or share material that you have found useful (always include where you found it).
It's wise to pay attention to account security (opens in a new window) and privacy settings (opens in a new window) on all social networking sites, and please, don't post when you are upset or under the influence because this may impact your perceived employability (opens in a new window).
The value of feedback
As a digital learner, you may receive feedback from tutors in a variety of formats. To maximise the value of feedback, ensure you reflect and act on it (see the Study Smart resources Track, progress, success (opens in a new window) (PDF, 107 kB) and Feedback hide and seek (PDF, 141 kB)).
- Accessing assignment feedback via Turnitin (opens in a new window) (Western Sydney University Library video, 2:06)
- How to use feedback effectively: A guide for students (opens in a new window) (PDF, 771 kB, part of DEFT Toolkit (opens in a new window) - Higher Education Academy UK)