Resources and Strategies to Support Online Learning

Resources and Strategies to Support Online Learning

Do you need immediate help from ARS? You can reach us at by email at ars@unc.edu or leave us a voicemail at 919-962-8300, and we can email or call you back.

Access to the Internet

Many telecoms providers are doing what they can to help students make the shift online by providing free high-speed access. The Federal Communications Commission Agreement states providers will waive late fees, not cutoff service for lack of payment, and open hot-spots for increased accessibility to the internet. Please visit the following websites for the latest details on how to sign-up and leverage these services.

  • Cox Communications ResponseCox Communications offers a range of services and packages for the next 60 days (free access to over 650,000 Wi-Fi hot spots; residential customers in the company’s Starter, StraightUp Internet and Connect2Compete packages will be automatically upgraded to speeds of 50 Mbps).
  • Comcast COVID-19 Response: Comcast offers free Wi-Fi for 2 months to low income families plus all Xfinity hot-spots are free to the public during this time. 
  • Charter Free Internet offer for 2 months– Charter will offer free Spectrum broadband and Wi-Fi access for 60 days to households with K-12 and/or college students who do not already have a Spectrum broadband subscription and at any service level up to 100 Mbps. To enroll call 1-844-488-8395. Installation fees will be waived for new student households.
  • AT&T COVID-19 Response: AT&T offers open hot-spots, unlimited data to existing customers, and $10/month plans to low-income families. 
  • Verizon COVID-19 ResponseThere are no special offers, Verizon is following the FCC agreement.
  • Sprint COVID-19 Response: Sprint is following the FCC agreement and will provide unlimited data to existing customers. Starting Tuesday, March 17, 2020, Sprint will allow all handsets to enable hot-spots for 60 days at no extra charge. 
  • T-Mobile COVID-19 Response: T-Mobile is following the FCC agreement and providing unlimited data to existing customers. It will soon allow all handsets to enable hot-spots for 60 days at no extra charge.

Maximizing Internet Access

You can also use the tips below to use your mobile phone as a hotspot to provide access to your laptop. There are also tips to maximize your bandwidth.

  • Turn your cell phone into a hotspot to provide access to your computer if you don’t have High-Speed Internet (see resources above)
  • If you do not have a great signal and video/access is breaking up, disconnect or turn off other devices using the internet such as TV’s and Smart Home devices streaming content, disconnect your phone from WiFi if you are using your computer for access. Also, take turns using the internet with others in your household to limit the number of simultaneous connections.
  • If you have older wireless technology, you may get better speeds by using a wired connection to connect to your cable router instead of using Wi-Fi.
  • To make sure neighbors are not streaming from your service, make sure your connection is password protected and get into the habit of periodically changing  your password on your router.

Reducing Screen and Computer Use Fatigue

As we move towards an online environment, please consider how you are using your computer.  A laptop was never intended to be a “full” time computer. If you have a docking station or desktop computer, monitor, keyboard, mouse available that will reduce stress on your body as you spend more time on the computer, please review these ergonomic setups and try to make your environment as ergo-friendly as possible.

Textbook Alternatives

Students may have lost access to resources available on campus as a result of COVID19 such as books on reserve in the Library.  You may be able to find free access to digital versions of your textbooks using the links and instructions below.

  • VitalSource
    • Go to vitalsource.com and create an account if you don't already have one. Make sure to use your edu email address.
    • Login and click on "My Bookshelf" in top right corner.
    • Then click on Explore in the top left corner.
    • Search for the book you need and add it to your Bookshelf and start reading.
  • RedShelf
    • Go to redshelf.com and create an account if you don't already have one. Make sure to use your edu email address.
    • Login and go to www.about.redshelf.com/redshelfresponds
    • Scroll down a little and click on the button, "Access Free eBooks"
    • Search for the book you need and 'view details' and then 'Add to My Shelf'
  • National Emergency Library

For Students with a Hearing Loss

As we move into online learning, please let the ARS or your Instructor know if you need captioning assistance.

For Students with a Vision Loss

For Visual Learners

Note: Automatic transcription does not replace the need to have multimedia captioned for those with hearing loss 

  • Live transcription can benefit students who may learn better by having visual focus when listening for periods, such as listening to a podcast.
  • Live transcription can benefit those students who find it difficult to type or write for long periods of time, such as students with Rheumatoid Arthritis, Traumatic Brain Injuries, Repetitive Stress Injuries, or Autism. 
  • Live transcription can support ESL learners as they see and hear the processed language.
  • Tools
    • Webcaptioner is a browser-based tool that presents captioning of auditory content in a separate window.  You can export the transcript as a document. (Free)
    • Otter is a cloud-based tool that works on a mobile device or browser. It is an audio recording tool that has automatic transcription, also, it has a highlighting feature so you can highlight important statements. You can embed pictures in the transcription, edit the transcript as well as share and export the transcript. The free version allows 600 minutes of recording, there is an educational discount of 50% off the normal pricing or about $4.50 per month.
    • BeeLine Reader - BeeLine Reademakereadinon-screeeasierfasteranmorenjoyableIt uses a simplcognitivtrick, aeye-guidincologradient tpulyoueyes across a line of text and froonlintthnext; thitechniquincreasereadinspeeanenhancefocus.

Supporting Writing

Limiting Your Internet Access to Stay Focused

Masking Environmental Noise to Stay Focused

  • Sound Masking using white noise / other generic background noise This would do the job of blocking out any external background noise. Here are a few websites and apps that can provide an endless stream of white noise and/or other ambient noises for study purposes​
    • Noisli
    • Relaxio
    • A soft murmur - ambient sounds available include rain, thunder, waves, wind, fire, birds, crickets, coffee shop, singing bowl and white noise
    • Rainymood - rain, can be mixed with music e.g. classical piano music
    • Soundrown - coffee shop, rain, waves, fire, birds, night, train, fountain, white noise, playground

Supporting Math

Supporting Mental Health

Staying Social

Although we are encouraged to physically distance from one another to contain virus infections, we can still connect using technology for studying and socializing.
Use the following tools to connect with other classmates, friends, family through apps like Skype, Facetime, Google Meet, Zoom.