Student Guidance for Online Teaching

Student working at a laptop

This is a challenging time for students and staff, and a response to a rapidly-changing situation. As you transition to your teaching being delivered online we want to ensure that you are receiving the support you need to make the most of your study experience.

Updated: Wednesday 23 September at 12.00


Working remotely

To help with working remotely the 301 Academic Skills Centre has designed a best practice guide for remote study, to help you stay on top of your workload and keep making positive progress in your university study.

You can also find guidance on remote working from IT Services which provides advice on accessing software, resources and information about how to stay safe online.

You can also access a wide range of online courses via LinkedIn Learning. Courses cover a diverse range of subjects from IT software and systems, business skills and creative media. All courses are online and can be undertaken on or off campus.


Digital learning tools

To support your studies online your tutors will use a range of tools to help facilitate your learning. Some of these you may have used already in your studies but some may be new to you.

An overview of some of the tools you may use in your studies include:

  • Blackboard - The University's virtual learning environment (VLE). Which will be used for a range of purposes from storing learning materials to communicating and collaborating with your tutors and peers.
  • Blackboard Collaborate - An online webinar tool which will be used by tutors to facilitate live online lectures and seminar activity. This is accessed in most cases in your Blackboard courses.
  • Encore - The University lecture capture service, which also has tools to help facilitate interactions within lecture and create your own notes.
  • Turnitin - An assessment tool which can be used to submit your work online. It also checks work for originality and allows tutors to provide marks and feedback.
  • PebblePad - An electronic portfolio tool that can be used to create reflections and complete workbooks as part of your studies.
  • Kaltura - Kaltura can be used to submit media work within Blackboard. All students can upload audio and video files into a personal media library. Use Kaltura Capture to create screen recordings, or to record video from your webcam.

Your departmental teams, and Digital Learning staff, are here to support you during this period. If you have any queries or concerns specific to teaching or assessment, please contact your tutors or department (as detailed in any communications you receive).

For any technical issues with digital learning tools you can contact the Digital Learning Helpdesk via email: digital.learning@sheffield.ac.uk. Please note this helpdesk is covered Monday to Friday, 08:00 - 17:00.

Please see some of the initial questions we will ask during support queries, to help us deal with your query more efficiently.

Check your IT setup

In order for you to fully engage with your teaching materials online, you will need the following access:

  • Computer
  • Internet access
  • Microphone and webcam - if you are asked to participate in a Blackboard Collaborate session, Google Meet session, or other form of webinar or virtual meeting

To check your browser for compatibility with Blackboard, please see the Blackboard Browser Checker.

If you experience any issues with Blackboard Collaborate, please visit our Collaborate troubleshooting page.  

Changing your email address in Blackboard

You can now receive Blackboard notifications from your personal email address. If you are in a location, such as China, where you have problems accessing your University email, you have the option to receive important course notifications and departmental communications to a personal email address.

If you need to do this simply add your personal email address to Blackboard and your Daily Notifications and any other notifications from your department will be delivered directly to that address. If you don’t update your email address, notifications will continue to go to your University email.

Other University communications will not be sent to this address. You should continue to check the Student news page for general information for students. This change will remain in place until the end of September 2020.

How to change your email address in Blackboard

An animation showing the instructions below on how to update Blackboard email address

1. Go to www.sheffield.ac.uk
2. Click on My Services, then Blackboard
3. On the left hand menu, click the profile tab (where your name is shown)
4. Under Basic Information, hover over your current email address. A pencil icon will appear.
5. Click the pencil and a slide over menu will appear.
6. Edit the Email field to your personal email address.
7. Click Done at the bottom of the page.
8. Add this address - no-reply@sheffield.ac.uk - to your contacts to ensure you receive notifications.

Please note you may have to check your spam or junk mail folder for Blackboard notifications.

Please see this guidance page to update your Blackboard notification settings, change the frequency of your notifications, and switch your notifications back on if you have muted them. 

Top tips for webinars and discussions

Top 5 webinar tips for students

1. Arrive early: aim to be logged in and online at least 5 minutes before the session. This way you can work out any audio or connectivity issues before the session starts.

2. Don’t try to multitask: close down other tabs and put your phone away.

3. Mute your mic when you’re not speaking to avoid unwanted background noises that can distract other participants.

4. Use the raise hand feature to ask a question. Do not switch on your mic to speak unless invited to, or a tutor has told you it’s fine to do so.

5. Remember text chat can move quickly in large classes, and tutors may not have immediately seen your message while presenting, so be patient for replies.


Top 5 tips for discussion boards for students

1. Get involved. Taking part in discussions makes your learning active (using your knowledge) rather than passive (only absorbing knowledge). As a result, you’re more likely to remember the facts or ideas you’ve learned.

2. Be clear and concise. Try to keep to a single point in your post as this will make the discussion easier to follow and only post if it's relevant to the discussion. If you want to talk about a different topic, consider setting up a separate thread.

3. Check your spelling. Use a plugin like Grammarly or better still write out your comment in a google or word document first - that way you’ll have a record of them. They might come in useful as a starting point for future assignments.

4. Start a conversation. Have a go at responding to a post that your classmate has left. Use open-ended questions that cannot be answered using “yes” or “no” to encourage discussion.

5. Be nice! This is not a YouTube comment section. Listening and engaging with different opinions will allow you to explore new perspectives.

Quick links to resources

Please refer to the below information on getting the most out of our digital learning tools and systems: