Tom Langston

After the stress of sitting A-level exams passes, and the last of the summer fades, the realisation dawns that you are about to start university. For many of you the first few weeks of university will constitute your first real taste of freedom away from your family home, and getting settled here at Portsmouth will be high on the agenda. You will rightly be concerned about making friends, joining clubs and societies, and exploring your new environment. Of course beginning your studies  is important too, so in this article I have tried to create a quick summary of what is to come in terms of eLearning.

In this post I have picked out the top three most commonly used terms that occur around the University. There are, however, many phrases, abbreviations and acronyms that you may hear which will soon become part of your own life’s lexicon. The Technology Enhanced Learning (TEL) team has a glossary of eLearning terms that you might also find useful.

So the three terms that will be most likely to be relevant from your first day at university are:

  1. VLE.This stands for Virtual Learning Environment; at Portsmouth, this is Moodle. This is the place where academics and administration teams provide information, learning materials and interactive activities for you to complete during your course. Moodle is normally the place where you take quizzes, submit assignments and check your writing for plagiarism.
  2. Plagiarism.Plagiarism is essentially the copying of other people’s work and passing it off as your own – a serious academic offence. To help with this, the University makes use of software called Turnitin. Turnitin checks your work against its vast database of past papers, journals and internet sources for similarities; although many people refer to it as a plagiarism checker, all it’s really doing is checking how similar your work is to existing sources. Our Youtube playlist looks at Turnitin and Moodle Assessment to help you understand how to use the software. If Turnitin returns your work with a high similarity score the problem might not be plagiarism, but poor academic referencing. Which brings us to the third term I want to discuss.
  3. Referencing.Correct citation and referencing will help you to avoid high similarity scores in Turnitin – and might help you gain marks. Plenty of help is available. The University Library, for example, offers a comprehensive referencing tool to help you; and the Academic Skills Unit provide guidance and workshops on a range of subjects, including referencing – and in academic writing more generally. This video was produced by one of the ASK tutors called ‘One way to write an essay’ that will help you start, plan and execute your academic writing style.

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These definitions are just the first step into eLearning at the University. We hope you find them useful but remember they are by no means the exhaustive list of terms or services that can help you complete your studies. For instance, has been rolled out for the first time at the University and has increased the depth of resources for both staff and students. Read more about this provision in this blog post.

Header image taken from under a free to use license.

João Silas