Remote Teaching & Learning

(14th March, 2020)

As I write this, increasing numbers of Universities around the world are moving teaching online in response to the COVID-19 situation. In anticipation of my own institute's move online I am putting together a list of resources to help colleagues and I make this transition as effectively as possible.

Over coming days and weeks I will update this page with any resources I feel will be of use. Should you have any recommendations please email me at or find me on twitter @benjanefitness.

In previous years I have created pages on my use of Screencasting and GoogleDocs and here I have included a link to my YouTube channel where there are several examples of how I've used that platform to support my teaching.

Online teaching does not simply mean presenting the same lecture to a webcam while sat at home in your pants, it could mean the use of synchronous sessions or asynchronous sessions, for example.

Some Suggestions

Social Media

Could this be an opportunity to set a Twitter task? Several years ago I wrote a blog on the use of Twitter in HE. There are lots of great people on twitter and it can be a great way of networking. Why not work with an academic and students from another institute to set a task that has to be completed on the platform and then see if you can get other people to join in. Bonuses awarded for any contributors that can meaningfully, professionally engage globally recognised academics in the conversation!

Screencasts, videos and livestreaming

Screencasting is my preferred method of producing the closest thing to a traditional lecture. I wrote this blog on my use of screencasts but I would agree with the key principles set out by @NurseKillam below. No more than 10 minutes, draw attention to the highlights of an existing slideset, or just focus on one tricky section. Often no need to produce new resources, just sit at your desk and record yourself speaking to the group. It doesn't need to be perfect but a half decent one can be re-used so well worth the effort. Skype, Google Hangouts and MS Teams all offer the chance to have more interactive live sessions as well however these are less good for engaging with at different times.

Think about how students will access the resource

I have a bugbear with colleagues posting MS Word documents on our VLE. The reason I don't like them is that when I try to access them I need to download them and that takes time as well as both cognitive and technical bandwidth. I don't want to be downloading things on my phone unnecessarily. When I need to post a page of info, I will normally use GoogleDocs to make use of the A4 blank page format but then "publish to the web" so that students can access it as a webpage. It's also much easier for me to update as there is no need to downloading or uploading again once the first link is shared. This method is pretty simple and it's use is only limited by your lack of pedagogical imagination. I use it to post an overview of a whole module and then include hyperlinks within the outline to reading, tasks and slides. Here's an example.

Create the right space

Forums look like they should work but they are harder to get right than they look. The concept is pretty straight forward; a shared space where contributors can post comments, join various threads and read or post useful links and articles. Tools such as Slack and MS Teams have a lot of promise in this area. I've also seen a number of people make good use of padlet over recent years. One of my excellent colleagues, Matt, in the Marjon Digital Innovation Team put this help page on Padlet together last year.

Kathleen Kole de Peralta and Sarah Robey (2018, Sept 19) 4 Reasons Slack Will Change How You Teach.

Co-design the teaching methods with the students

These are unique times and there will be value in recognising that, acknowledging the need for quick change and being honest about our capabilities and the sense of upheaval that is shared between staff and students. Staff know the content that they need to cover, but maybe we can co-design the ways in which we support students in there learning. Course by course, lecturer driven consultation with students would seem sensible on many levels. Open discussions about what content is left, the type of support that might work best and the type of tools that could work. Recognising the need for ongoing evaluation and the potential for change as student needs change.

Think about having at least two points of contact

In discussing various methods of teaching remotely with colleagues, I've come to the conclusion that a two-points of contact approach can be used in a range of ways. Broadly speaking this means I will create a briefing for the week's content (overview, aim, list of tasks, reading, videos etc) and within that briefing identify the ways in which students can engage and be supported through the week. This will result in a briefing at the start of the week and a chance to engage with others towards the end of the week. Maybe a pre-recorded 10 min screencast at the start and a MS Teams/Skype small group Q&A at the end of the week.

Recommended Articles/Links

Clow, D. (2020, March, 12) What to do if you suddenly find yourself teaching at a distance

White, N. with Cranston, P., Stewart, S. and Koenig, B. (n.d.) So You Want to Host a Web Meeting?

@profwernimont et al (2019) Teaching in the context of COVID-19 [shared googledoc]

Harder, B. [@wlharder]. (2020, March 10). Evening, @Jack. My university just announced that we are shifting all courses #online for several weeks due to #coronavirus. I spent the last month on jury duty & as a result had to unexpectedly move my class online with no notice. I've got some thoughts (thread): #AcademicTwitter #CovidCampus [Tweet]. Retrieved from

Advice to those about to teach online because of the corona-virus

Darby, F. [@flowerbarby] (n.d.) How to Be a Better Online Teacher: Advice Guide

Executive Functioning in Online Environments.


Stolley, K. (n.d.) Moving Classes Online on Short Notice: Some Strategies [shared googledoc]

Vallance, J. and Wilson-Keates, B. (2018) Dispelling the misconceptions of online education

WonkHE Covid-19 articles

Brown, S. and Sambell, K. (2020, March 13) Contingency planning: exploring rapid alternatives to face-to-face assessment [Available at )

Thomson, C. and Gribble, Z. (2020, March 20) Delivering teaching using live streaming and lecture capture


Five Human-Centred Design Methods to Use in Your Projects When You Are in Isolation

Academic Papers

Croft, N., Dalton, A., & Grant, M. (2010). Overcoming isolation in distance learning: Building a learning community through time and space. Journal for Education in the Built Environment, 5(1), 27-64.

Get Involved: A Google Groups Forum