A couple of weeks ago I talked about some of the places and services on campus that are important and handy to know about when you get to Uni. This time I’m going to talk about the things the Uni has online to give you a hand.
You’ll use your University logins for all of these sites. Your username will be a combination of three letters and two numbers – you01 – which also forms your email address – you01(at)aber.ac.uk. You’ll choose a password, which can be something of a challenge – for security purposes, it must be a random assortment of letters and numbers. My tactic has always been writing a sentence I’ll remember and using the initials – for example, Pass Words Must Be Memorable01 = PWMBM01 or whatever.
AberLearn BlackBoard is sort of student-central. What’s on there for you will differ depending on your department, your course, your modules, and your tutors.
It’s important to check BlackBoard regularly as announcements do go up there from time to time. In essence it is a resource for course materials. Each module you take will have a folder where your tutors can upload content for you – things like reading lists, lecture slides, seminar handouts and sources. It depends a lot on what you’re studying and who teaches you – but nevertheless, it’s an important resource! Information about essay deadlines and guidelines are usually all on BlackBoard. My course (English and Creative Writing) required me to hand in two versions of every assignment – hard copies and an electronic copy, which is submitted via SafeAssign on BlackBoard. There will probably be talks at the beginning of your first year about using BlackBoard to its full advantage. The best way to figure out how useful BlackBoard can be is to have a good poke around during Fresher’s Week – before the work kicks in and you need it, spend half an hour figuring it out.
Basically – the library catalogue. You can search books in any specific library or all of the Uni libraries, and if you pick ‘Aber+’ it’ll include online sources – peer reviewed journals and magazine articles. When you find a book you want to get out you get a reference code of letters and numbers which you use to find the book on the library shelves. It’s a system that most people aren’t totally used to when they get to Uni, but easy enough to figure out. Generally if you’re looking for something on a particular topic you’ll find a lot of the books have similar codes, which give you a general area to search in.
When you log in to Primo you get better search results, and you can look at your account. This lists what books you’ve taken out, and allows you to renew loans or pay fines. Primo also shows whether copies of a book are available or not to take out – if all the copies are gone and you need the book, you can recall a copy. If a book you need is on a different campus, you can request that it be available at a chosen location for you to pick up.
This is where you find things like your timetable and academic record. This is where your results are listed when they come out, you can check and edit your personal information (phone numbers and addresses) and enter reasons for unexplained absences. Tasks will pop up on your Student Record – for example in first year you’ll fill out an inventory, where you list any electrical items you’ve brought into halls. When it comes time, this is where your graduation information is listed.
Fairly self-explanatory – your university email account. It uses Office 365, so it’s a web-based version of Outlook, making it pretty easy to get to grips with. If you have a smartphone it’s worth setting up your Uni emails to go straight to it – you’ll be a lot more likely to check it that way. In any case, always check your email at least once a day – preferably more. There’s no good reading about an important course meeting an hour after it starts! Make sure you have a list of all the important email addresses – your personal tutor, and tutors for each module you’re taking. In the event of stormy weather – which does crop up in Aberystwyth! – emergency information will come via your email.
Social media is a brilliant thing for students right now – as well as keeping you in touch with friends and family, it’s a great lifeline to the Uni as well. Uni accounts and pages are on Facebook (Entry 2014/Entry 2015) and Twitter and are well worth following. Search Facebook for groups you can join – for your course, societies, etc. There are groups for things like housing where people advertise available places – it’s worth having a peek through the pages connected to the University to see what will be useful for you.
If you set up a study group with friends Facebook groups or group messages can be a great way to keep things together. If your seminars involve sharing work and you think it’d be useful, ask tutors about the possibility of setting up a Facebook group for the seminar where you can all discuss your work and share things. There are loads of possibilities for how useful you can make social media throughout your time at Uni!
So, that’s a brief run-through of the online things you’ll use during your time at Uni. I hope you’re all well and I’ll be back next week!