At NUI Galway our online learning courses are delivered through a Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) called Blackboard. The VLE is our central means of communicating with students who study at a distance from the University. The VLE is used to manage the communication process between students and lecturers. It is used as a means of delivering content, supporting learners or managing assessments. Click here for a brief introduction to Blackboard.

If you want to find out more about the Virtual Learning Environment, click on this short lesson to learn how it supports online learning, we also have some useful information on Blackboard on Services for Students webpage.

You might also be interested in reviewing some of our frequently asked questions about remote learning at NUI Galway.

Technical queries

What kind of hardware do I need to be a part of an online course?  

The basic hardware you will need in order to take part in your online course is:

  • A recent laptop or computer 
  • A stable Internet connection 
  • A microphone and a webcam

In an online course, the content is delivered through our virtual learning environment, Blackboard. Being able to access the learning management system requires access to a stable broadband connection and a laptop or desktop computer. You can also access Blackboard from a tablet or a phone, but in order to complete assignments, you’ll need a computer.

Some of your lectures will take place live, online. You’ll need to be able to interact with the lecturer and other students during your online lectures, so having a headset with a microphone, like you’d use for Skype, can be useful. Finally, having a webcam is also useful. Many laptops have a built-in mic and webcam. If yours does, you won’t need to purchase these separately.

What kind of software do I need to be a part of an online course?  

In order to complete assignments, you’ll need access to a word processor and presentation software. NUI Galway provides the MS Office suite to all students for free, so if you don’t have that already, you’ll be able to download it to your computer once you’re registered. A good understanding of using MS Word and PowerPoint is important. 

In some modules, you might be asked to create a video for an assignment. You can do this using your smart phone or your webcam. If your course requires specialist software, NUI Galway provides free student access to many other software applications.

Blackboard works best on Google Chrome or Firefox, so make sure you have one of these web browsers installed on your computer.

How can I tell if my broadband is sufficient to participate in an online course?

To participate fully in an online course, you will need a strong, stable broadband connection. You can do a free speed test on Ookla to find out what your broadband’s download and upload speeds are. In order to use Blackboard’s virtual classroom for online lectures, you will need a broadband download speed of around 15-20 Mbps. 

How are online courses delivered in the Centre for Adult Learning?

NUI Galway delivers learning material to students via a virtual learning environment called Blackboard. As students are accessing learning material online, they can study at times which complement their work and family commitments. The courses are delivered online through: 

  • Podcasts
  • Screencasts (a digital recording of computer screen output)
  • Live online lectures – scheduled at specific times but also recorded so students can access them later
  • Live online review and Q&A sessions
  • Reading material and assignments
  • Online discussions

What computer skills do I need to learn online?

Your online course will be accessed through NUI Galway’s virtual learning environment, Blackboard, so you’ll need to know how to access it on the Internet. You’ll also need to be able to use the Internet for research for your assignments. Blackboard works best on Google Chrome or Firefox, so make sure you have one of these web browsers installed on your computer, and you are comfortable using it.

In order to complete assignments, you’ll need to be able to use a word processor and possibly presentation software, such as PowerPoint. NUI Galway provides the MS Office suite to all students for free, so if you don’t have that, you’ll be able to download it to your computer once you’re registered. A good understanding of using MS Word and PowerPoint is important.

In some modules, you might be asked to create a video for an assignment. You can do this using your smart phone or a webcam. If your course requires specialist software, NUI Galway provides free student access to many other software applications.

How do I access the University's IT Services remotely?

You can access the following University IT Services off-campus by using your Campus Account credentials. If you have a specific query, the ISS Service Desk can help you. Log a ticket at https://servicedesk.nuigalway.ie or email servicedesk@nuigalway.ie

Please note that some discipline-specific software may not be available from off-campus, so you should liaise with your module and course administrators to understand what is available.

Teaching and Learning queries

What kinds of activities will I be doing online?

In an online module, you will have many different ways of communicating with your instructor and fellow students in Blackboard. Some of the activities you might engage in are:

  • Discussion Board conversations 
  • Blog posts 
  • Using a wiki to create content with your classmates 
  • Taking online tests or surveys 
  • Uploading completed assignments to Blackboard 
  • Attending lectures in the Virtual (online) Classroom

Click here for more information on Blackboard.

What kinds of materials will my instructors provide for me in an online module? 

Your instructors will provide many different kinds of materials for you to interact with in your online classes, such as: 

  • Podcasts 
  • Screencasts 
  • Videos 
  • Websites 
  • PowerPoint presentations 
  • PowerPoint presentations accompanied by a podcast  
  • Lecture notes  
  • Reading list, online, through the Library

These will be accessed through NUI Galway’s virtual learning environment, Blackboard.

What can I do to prepare for my online course?

There is lots of helpful advice to assist you in preparing for online learning. Discover more using some of the links below:

You might also be wondering if online learning is a good fit for you. If so, you can take this quick online quiz to find out!

Do I have to attend an online class at a specific time or is the online learning flexible to fit my schedule?

Many of your modules will include a few live, online lectures. You will access these in the virtual classroom on your Blackboard module. We understand that adult learners have other commitments to work and family, which means you might not be able to attend all of your lectures when they are presented live. For this reason, all of the live lectures are recorded and posted on Blackboard within 24 hours of the live session. If you can’t make it to the live session, you can watch the recording later. This is also helpful for revision, as all the students on the module can watch the lectures again if they feel they need to do so.

What does it mean that the courses are fully online?  

The Centre for Adult Learning and Professional Development offers flexible, part time courses for adult learners. This year, due to the Covid-19 pandemic, all of our courses will be offered online. Online learning means that you will interact with your instructor and fellow students entirely online through NUI Galway’s virtual learning environment, Blackboard. You will also access all the materials you need for the course online through Blackboard.

How much time will I need to spend studying in a part-time online course?

Time management is extremely important for part-time students. Applicants are advised that approximately 10-15 hours per week of study time is required, additional time may be required if you are studying for a degree or masters course. The following tools on Time Management will help you consider how much time you have available to study and how to manage that time effectively.

What’s the difference between a blended learning course and an online course?  

In a blended learning course, you would meet with your instructor and classmates one or two times during the semester for face-to-face workshops. For the rest of the semester you’d be working through the course materials on Blackboard such as readings, activities and assignments. In a fully online course, you will interact with your instructor and fellow students entirely online through NUI Galway’s virtual learning environment, Blackboard. You will also access all the materials you need for the course online through Blackboard. Click here for more information on Blackboard in NUI Galway.

One of the benefits of online learning is the flexibility the course affords you. You can study and interact with your online learning materials and classmates at times that complement your work and family commitments. You might be wondering if online learning is a good fit for you. If so, you can take this quick online quiz to find out!

What student supports are available to me as an online learner?

A wide range of services are available to part-time, online learners at NUI Galway and all departments are offering a remote service during Covid-19 restrictions: