The University of Sheffield suspended face-to-face teaching from Monday 16 March 2020 and all teaching has moved online. Please refer to the Coronavirus Information & Advice page for the latest updates.
We understand that teaching online may be something that is new to you, so we have designed these pages to help with this transition. Take advantage of the support that is available to you from the Digital Learning Team, and any local provision that you may have in place.
Try and keep things simple initially. Use the technology to support your key teaching activities, and ensure you are communicating clearly with your students. Let them know if you’re trying something new, and try to manage expectations by identifying any scheduled activities that cannot be delivered online.
Clarify how students can contact you, and when they should expect a response. Outline to students your expectations in terms of participation with any online activities or live sessions, but it is important to stress that your, and your students health and wellbeing is the first priority.
Be mindful that this is an emergency response and does not necessarily constitute best practice for online learning. Also bear in mind internet connectivity may vary and present difficulties in some locations.
Updated: Monday 4 May at 12.00
- Check your IT
- Use the supported and recommended tools
- Deliver a remote lecture
- Deliver a remote seminar
- Deliver a tutorial, supervision, or pastoral support meeting
- Maintain contact and engagement
- Check which students have been active online
- Help & support
Check your IT
In preparation, you should make sure that you have access to the following equipment at your home, or alternative location.
- Laptop or desktop computer
- Microphone. You may have one built into your computer, but alternative USB headsets/mics are also available.
- Webcam (optional). An external USB webcam can be used if you do not have anything built in to your computer.
- Internet access. Whilst not essential, we recommend connecting via a network cable where possible, as WiFi connections may not be as reliable.
- An up to date web browser. You can use this browser checker to easily check for compatibility with Blackboard (MOLE)
If you do not have access to appropriate IT equipment, please speak to your line manager in the first instance.
Use the supported and recommended tools
We recommend colleagues use the institutionally supported tools that are described in this guidance. This will enable you to provide a consistent experience for your students, and enable us to provide you with the training and support that you might need.
This is also an opportunity to check your Blackboard course is up to date and designed in-line with the Blackboard First Steps Checklist. Try to ensure that any documents and presentations shared with your students have been created with accessibility principles in mind.
Deliver a remote lecture
|Record (from your office / home)||
Record lectures from your home or office with Encore Universal Capture. Universal Capture enables you to record your computer screen, audio (and optional webcam). Encore Universal Capture is available on PC & Macs, and can be downloaded by logging into Encore with your university email address, and clicking the Settings cog > Downloads
There is no audio on this recording.
Access our Universal Capture Quick Start Guide for more information. Once published, students will be able to access the recordings from the Encore link within your Blackboard (MOLE) course - just like a lecture capture that’s been recorded in a lecture theatre on campus.
|Record & live stream (from your office / home)||
Live stream from your office or home using Blackboard Collaborate. Built into Blackboard (MOLE), Collaborate is an interactive online classroom tool, which enables you to deliver content to your students, irrespective of geographical location. You can share a presentation, or any content on your screen, as well as audio, webcam and text chat. There is no need to download any extra software to deliver, or participate in a Blackboard Collaborate session. These sessions can also be recorded and made available to view within your Blackboard Course. View our Essentials guide to get started.
Up to 250 students can access a Collaborate session simultaneously - please get in touch with firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss larger cohorts. Where practical, we recommend you schedule Blackboard Collaborate sessions at the same time as the original face to face lecture.
Reuse a previous Encore Recording
Reuse previously recorded lectures from your Encore library. Lecture Captures will be made available to students via the Encore link in your Blackboard Course. Check your lecture captures by logging into Encore with your university email address, and clicking the My Content tab.
Alternatively, find your previous recordings within Blackboard:
You can also use the Echo 360 Video Library tool in Blackboard. This will allow you to insert a lecture capture directly into your Blackboard course alongside other teaching material.
Lecture captures can be embedded anywhere you see the text editor, such as when creating a new Item. Click Mashups > Echo360 Video Library. This will, by default, show this year's teaching material (2019-20). Click the 'Filters' button, and select the academic year you wish to view using the drop down menu. Or alternately you can use the search bar in the Mashups Tool to access recordings from previous academic years.
If you cannot locate a specific capture, please contact email@example.com with the original module details to get the recording assigned to you.
Deliver a remote seminar
|Live stream (from your office / home)||
Host a seminar from your office/home using Blackboard Collaborate. Built into Blackboard (MOLE), Collaborate is an interactive online classroom tool, which enables you to connect with your students, irrespective of geographical location. You can share a presentation, or any content on your screen, as well as audio, webcam and text chat. There is no need to download any extra software to deliver, or participate in a Blackboard Collaborate session. These sessions can also be recorded and made available to view within your Blackboard Course. View our Essentials guide to get started.
Using Breakout Groups during the Collaborate session will allow students to work together in smaller groups.
A threaded Discussion Board can be added to your Blackboard Course to allow opportunities for discussion and reflection. Staff and students can contribute to the discussion board asynchronously, and posts can contain text, images and videos.
Deliver a tutorial, supervision, or pastoral support meeting
|Interactive session (from your office / home)||
Live stream using Blackboard Collaborate. Built into Blackboard (MOLE), Collaborate is an interactive online classroom tool, which enables you to deliver content to your students, irrespective of geographical location. You can share a presentation, or any content on your screen, as well as audio, webcam and text chat. Students can also be given permission to share content with you. There is no need to download any extra software to deliver, or participate in a Blackboard Collaborate session. View our Essentials guide to get started.
More informal sessions (e.g. that don’t need to be recorded) can be conducted via Google Meet. Invite students by sending the guest link within the session, or schedule meetings within Google Calendar using the ‘Add Conferencing’ button.
Maintain contact and engagement
|Enable students to ask questions online||
Set up a FAQ Discussion Board within your Blackboard course to enable students to ask any questions, this might help to reduce emails. Ensure that the Discussion Board is clearly placed within your course. Manage student expectations by letting them know how regularly you will check and respond to messages.
|Keep students updated||
Use the module announcements to post messages and inform students of any updates to your Blackboard course.
|Top 5 webinar tips||
1. Interact with your audience
The best webinars are interactive experiences. You can listen and respond to questions in real-time and adjust your presentation to meet their needs.
Be sure to plan interactivity into your session; ask open-ended questions and invite learners to respond in the chat panel, pose questions using the poll functionality or ask learners to contribute to a whiteboard - give your audience frequent opportunities to participate to keep their attention.
If you don’t plan to interact with your audience perhaps a webinar is not the best format? You could record a video or send out slides for learners to review in their own time instead.
2. Get some help with facilitation
It can be really useful to have someone help you facilitate the session. They can monitor the chat stream, handle technical issues and set up any of the interactive exercises that you have planned.
If there is no one around that can help, make sure you build facilitation into your session plan - give students clear joining instructions, explain some of the key functionality on a welcoming slide and build time into your session to look at the chat area and respond to any questions. It’s OK to pause your presentation to address questions - it shows that you are paying attention to your audience.
3. Make a session plan
Creating a plan ahead of the session will help you to plan for those moments of interaction and keep your webinar running to time.
A simple table that outlines who does what and when can ensure your session runs smoothly.
4. Present don’t read
Deliver the session as if you are in the classroom. It can be tempting to read off a script but it will be hard to disguise that you are reading and your participants may start to tune out.
If you sound excited and interested in your content, your participants will pick up on that enthusiasm and pay attention.
5. Focus on the visuals
As your students are going to be looking at their screen for the duration of the presentation, your visual presentation needs to be engaging and relevant.
Even if you plan to use slides in your webinar, start the session by introducing yourself with your webcam on, this will bring an added human dimension to your session.
You can then mix up the presentation between using your webcam, sharing slides and sharing something on your screen.
Aim for 1 minute per slide and vary the slide type, alternating between diagrams, charts, images and bullet points. You can use the annotation tools to highlight key points on the slide.
|Top 5 tips for discussion boards||
1. Set up a separate discussion board for general chat. This can help to keep your discussion boards on topic and gives your students a place to have the types of conversations they would usually have before and after class.
2. Use an icebreaker discussion so that your students can practice using the discussion functionality. Good icebreakers are easy to engage with, regardless of your existing knowledge.
3. Align your discussion topics directly to the assignments so that students are better motivated to engage with them. Consider providing a selection of discussion questions and let your students choose from amongst them.
4. Don’t think “if I build it, they will come”. If you want social activity to happen you need to foster it. Respond to posts - praise good posts and ask follow-up questions.
5. Provide content that is worth talking about. Controversial ideas, key debates, relevant examples and newsworthy events can all help to get students talking.
Check which students have been active online
|Finding out who has accessed a Blackboard Collaborate session||
You can view reports from the list of sessions in your Blackboard Collaborate tool.
The report will give you:
To the left of this page you are able to export the report as a printable sheet or export the information into a CSV file.
It is not possible at this time to view which attendees have accessed Blackboard Collaborate Session Recordings.
|See when individual students have been on a Blackboard course||
You can quickly see when a particular student has last accessed your Blackboard course in the Performance Dashboard.
Access this area in the course Control Panel Under Evaluation > Performance Dashboard
Next to each student you will see the date and time they last accessed the course.
|Run a report to see when students accessed a Blackboard course||
Sometimes you may want a more in depth report on which students have accessed a course.
This is possible using the Course Reports function in Blackboard. Once you have accessed a course:
NOTE: This report will show: Overall Summary of User Activity displays user activity for all areas of your course, as well as activity dates, times, and days of the week. Use this report to view student access as well as how often course tools are used.
Help & support
We understand that these approaches will be new for a lot of colleagues. The Digital Learning Helpdesk will be open Monday to Friday, 8 am - 5pm, and will provide support to help guide you through this transition.
Scheduled webinars, on various aspects of teaching online, are scheduled to help teachers through this time. For details see below.
Half hour, one-to-one Online Digital Advice sessions are also available to book throughout this period.