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Cambridge Centre for Teaching and Learning


There are some simple practical considerations to teaching live audio-visual sessions online which are easy to overlook, but worth bearing in mind before you get started.

There may be good reasons why some of the considerations below are not practical for some supervisors - or for some students - at present. Please take what is useful and feasible for your circumstances.​


Try to create an appropriate environment

  • Set up a suitable space from which to conduct your online supervision; where possible, use a neutral zone such as an office area rather than a bedroom
  • Make sure you will be comfortable throughout the session
  • Let any fellow residents know that you’re going to be on a call, and/or try to hold it in a private space
  • Make sure you have any necessary equipment such as paper and pens to hand so that you don’t have to interrupt your supervision to find them
  • If possible, engineer the space so that you are well (not harshly) illuminated from the front rather than the back, so that students can see your face and you aren’t just a silhouette
  • Be suitably and appropriately dressed, to get you in the right frame of mind


Prepare your technology

  • Test your audio setup well in advance, using the same platform as you’ll use for the supervision
  • Make sure nothing private is open on your screen that could be accidentally shared
  • If possible, use headphones to reduce feedback
  • Enter the virtual supervision in plenty of time to make sure that everything is working and address any issues that arise before it starts

Conference-calling etiquette

  • Set up the supervision so that participants are automatically muted on entry, to reduce background noise and risk of feedback
  • Consider blurring your background if that’s an option, to reduce distractions and improve privacy
  • Think twice before commenting on someone else’s environment (for example, the décor of a room in the background)
  • If students and supervisors are able to use headphones, then others in the room won’t by necessity hear your conversations
  • When sharing screens, try to share only what is necessary – a specific application window rather than your whole desktop, for example
  • Don’t eat during the session unless absolutely necessary – if that’s the case, give participants a heads-up /apology, and definitely mute your mic while chewing!
  • Try to look into the camera when talking

Further guidance

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