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Cambridge Centre for Teaching and Learning


Some common teaching activities, online challenges, options and tools

We have developed an overview of some of the most common teaching activities and suggested some ways of realising these online. Most obviously perhaps, group discussion between students poses some challenges on a video call, such as encouraging all students to participate or balancing contributions between students. Similarly, there are challenges and work-arounds for teachers who normally use pen and paper to show workings on problems, or who involve students in collaborative problem solving.

We have highlighted some common teaching activities, tools and methods, along with important considerations for accessibility for disabled students and those with neurodiverse profiles.


Online challenges Options Tools and guidance
- Pre-record explanations and share them with students

MS Teams and Google Meet include option to record a video, with options to use automatic captions and / or to provide a transcript

If using Moodle, with Panopto enabled, use ‘record’ function in Powerpoint

Panopto: general guidance for students and for staff

- Share your screen, e.g. to show slides, documents

Screen sharing and collaborative whiteboard

In addition to standard screensharing options with MS Teams and with Google Meet, OneNote (available in MS Teams) has options to share with an individual student, or with several students

- If you have a second web camera (or a smartphone): set this up above your desk and occasionally switch to a paper document for writing  
- Collaborative whiteboard: students and supervisors can write and see each other’s changes simultaneously Screen sharing and collaborative whiteboard


Online challenges Options Tools and guidance
- Supervisor creates online quiz Moodle Quiz
- Students email / upload photos or videos of working   


Answering questions
Online challenges Options Tools and guidance
- Students can submit questions in advance, which supervisor then addresses during conference call OR by following up with message

Email (Moodle has 'quickmail' email function)

Set up a Forum within Moodle

- Students can type in questions in the 'chat' function on Teams during the supervision Collaborative editing document MS Teams - OneNote or Word; Google Doc


Giving feedback to students
Online challenges Options Tools and guidance

Use tracked changes on Word document

Email / upload written feedback

Supervisions with Teams

Supervision with Google Meet

Supervision with Zoom

Moodle Assignment

Some students with disabilities and / or neurodiversity may struggle to keep pace with spoken feedback, or may struggle to listen to and take notes of spoken feedback Allow students to record supervisor's spoken feedback with 'captions' function turned on, so that students have a transcript of spoken feedback Supervisions with Teams
- Email / upload recorded feedback Use smartphone / laptop software and upload to Moodle Forum / MS Teams / Google Meet


Student presentations
Online challenges Options Tools and guidance
For some disabled people, for example those with autism, or conditions where anxiety or fatigue is a factor, giving ‘live’ presentations can present a range of issues Students pre-record presentations, upload to Moodle

Powerpoint has recording function

Use smartphone / laptop software and upload to Moodle Forum or Assignment / MS Teams / Google Meet

Group discussion (between students)
Online challenges Options Tools and guidance

Delay in transmission of sounds / images can make discussion feel stilted

Use directed questions, address students by name Guiding inclusive discussion and interaction
For supervisions with more than one student, it may be more challenging to encourage all students to participate or for some participants to dominate Explain to / negotiate with students a ‘code of practice’ for online group discussions

Guiding inclusive discussion and interaction

Planning your supervisions

People with Autism Spectrum Conditions or mental health difficulties, for example, may be anxious about cameras Phone conference, without images, may be preferable – discuss preferences with students Supervisions with disabled students
People with hearing impairments and / or those for whom English is not a first language may struggle to follow spoken discussions Select technology with automatic subtitling and facility to save transcript of discussion

Accessibility comparison of video conferencing tools (first section at link)

Supervisions with Teams

Supervisions with Google Meet

Supervision with Zoom

People with neurodiverse conditions such as dyslexia, dyspraxia or ADHD, who might have issues with working memory or processing speed may have difficulties at times with fast paced discussion with multiple contributors

As complement or an alternative to spoken discussion, students can ask questions and respond using typed ‘chat’ (for ‘live’ discussion) or ‘forum’ (for asynchronous discussion)

Note: typing speeds may be affected by physical impairments

Moodle Chat guide

Moodle Forum guide

Supervision with Teams

Supervision with Google Meet

Supervision with Zoom

Supervisions with disabled students


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We are continuing to add to and develop these resources - we welcome your feedback, as well as your own ideas and examples of tools and practices that work for you and your students. Please get in touch. 

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