The University of Sheffield has 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 internet connectivity may vary and present difficulties in some locations.
Updated: Thursday 26 March at 11.30
- 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
- Continuity of Assessment
- Offline support for Digital Learning Tools
- Global Availability
- The Digital Library
- Online Teaching Community
- 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.
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.
Continuity of Assessment
Work with your programme team to review the assessments in your course in order to identify any assignments that might need to be altered in light of the current situation. Speak to your Academic Programmes and Quality Adviser (APQA) if you need advice on changing an assessment.
Lab work is challenging to replicate virtually. Consider drawing on existing resources, or providing desk based activities where appropriate. Speak to your programme team for specific guidance.
|Submission & marking||
Turnitin allows students to submit work from any computer. Turnitin can be used as an aid to detect plagiarism, and allows work to be marked online using a suite of grading and feedback tools.
The Blackboard Assignment Tool supports a variety of different file types - from videos to ZIP files, and all marks and feedback can be delivered electronically to students within Blackboard (MOLE).
Students can record presentations as a screencast, using Kaltura Capture, and submit for assessment to Blackboard (MOLE). Alternatively, you can set up a Blackboard Collaborate session to allow students to present remotely. Collaborate sessions can be recorded for retention and moderation purposes.
Offline support for Digital Learning Tools
We recognise that as we move to online teaching some of our users will be teaching and learning in locations where internet connections may be less reliable and much slower.
We wanted to share some tips about how you can save content whilst you have stable internet connection for use later.
Students with a mobile or tablet device can download the Blackboard App. This allows students to go to content areas in their Blackboard courses and download any materials and attached files to continue to view when they don’t have an internet connection.
Staff can use the Blackboard Instructor App to download their teaching materials in the same way.
Note: This will only download for content uploaded to Blackboard. So any web links, embedded content (e.g. Padlet, Google slides) or Kaltura videos can not be downloaded.
Alternatively you can access the course on your desktop/laptop when you have access and download any attached documents or copy and paste the non-attached content into a local document e.g. Word.
The Echo360 app allows you to download Encore recordings so you can watch the recordings offline. These downloads are stored within the Encore app.
Before you use the app, ensure you have clicked onto the Encore link on your Blackboard (MOLE) course on a computer first. This will ensure you can see all of your captures on the app.
If one of your modules is missing from your module list within the app, Blackboard (MOLE) site for the module and click on the Encore Lecture Capture link on the left hand menu to refresh the list.
To download content from the Echo app:
Learners can download the PebblePocket app which allows for the creation of PebblePad assets while offline, which will be synched to their account once they have a connection. However they only have access to generic PebblePad resources, and are unable to access or download Resources such as Workbooks and Templates that you have created for them to use (except in a few cases where this has previously arranged with PebblePad).
If you do have a Workbook or Template that needs to be available offline, please contact the Digital Learning Team to discuss, but please note if this happens that these will be available to the entire University, and this needs to be done in collaboration with PebblePad and will not be an immediate process.
Our suppliers have been working hard to scale up their infrastructure in preparation for unprecedented global demand on their tools and services. Any updates about service availability will be communicated in the usual way via the IT Service Status Page.
|Availability within China||
Below are details of how learning technology tools are available in China. Please note this is at the time of writing, and access can change at short notice. We are awaiting confirmation from some suppliers - this does not mean the system is unavailable.
The Digital Library
The University of Sheffield has an extensive digital library, supported by online information and digital literacy tutorials, and a virtual advisory team, with specialist staff ready to support you.
Please see the Library's Getting the most out of the digital library for further guidance.
Online Teaching Community
The Online Teaching Community is an ideas sharing space for anyone involved in online and distance learning. As our campus closes to prevent the spread of Covid-19, many of you will have been asked to begin teaching online, perhaps for the first time. This community is a space where you can tap into peer-support from others delivering teaching online, ask questions and share best practices.
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.