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Teaching from Home/Winter Options/Ensuring Continuity of Learning

Campus photo in the snow Business Continuity Campus photo in the snow

Winter photo by Mike Spikin, University of Huddersfield


There are many reasons why your face-to-face classes may not run as planned, such as snow and ice in winter, and having to self-isolate due to the current coronavirus situation. On this page, you will find information about the available tools and resources that can be used to counter potential disruptions if you and/or your students are unable to get to campus.

Guide for Temporarily Teaching Online

This guide is aimed not at the permanent movement from face-to-face to online education but as an interim solution for emergency remote teaching, focused on lecture-based classes with some considerations for more active learning environments.

This link will help you map your current face-to-face activities to online alternatives.

Please make sure your online materials meet the accessibility requirements, further info on digital accessibility here.

Synchronous vs. Asynchronous?

There are two options for tutors to facilitate class sessions remotely:

  1. Synchronous: tutors and students gather at the same time and interact in “real-time” with a very short or “near-real-time” exchange between tutors and students.
  2. Asynchronous: tutors prepare course materials for students in advance of students’ access. Students may access the course materials at a time of their choosing and will interact with each over a longer period of time.

Tutors may choose to engage their students synchronously or asynchronously depending on the course content or material that needs to be taught. There are many advantages and disadvantages to asynchronous and synchronous teaching options, which are outlined below:

Advantages of Synchronous Teaching

Disadvantages of Synchronous Teaching

  • Immediate personal engagement between students and tutors, which may create greater feelings of community and lessen feelings of isolation
  • More responsive exchanges between students and tutors, which may prevent miscommunication or misunderstanding
  • More challenging to schedule shared times for all students and tutors
  • Some students may face technical challenges or difficulties if they do not have fast or powerful Wi-Fi networks accessible
  • University systems may struggle to cope with increased use
Advantages of Asynchronous Teaching Disadvantages of Asynchronous Teaching
  • Higher levels of temporal flexibility, which may simultaneously make the learning experiences more accessible to different students and also make an archive of past materials accessible
  • Increased cognitive engagement since students will have more time to engage with and explore the course material
  • Students may feel less personally exchanged and less satisfied without the social interaction between their peers and tutors
  • Course material may be misunderstood or have the potential to be misconstrued without real-time interaction


    • Make good use of Brightspace which can be accessed from home as long as you have an internet connection or a smartphone/tablet device:

      • you can use the Announcement feature to alert students of any changes.

      • you can provide documents for students to read, or link to YouTube or UniTube videos for them to watch.

      • you can create your own multimedia resources or live stream content - see below.

      • you can make use of the collaboration spaces like discussion boards, wikis, blogs, etc. You may want to use discussion boards as a way to have ongoing conversations with students if the absence is prolonged. If you are considering introducing blogs and wikis to your course, please discuss this with your LTA first to consider the best tools for this.

      • also available in Brightspace is a chat room facility. You may not want to use this routinely, but it can be a useful communication channel for off-campus students; here is a link to using the chat tool in Brightspace. 

      • there are many other ways to communicate with your students using Brightspace, as described on this page - the 5th section down is about the different communication tools you can use.


    Microsoft Teams

    • Microsoft Teams is available for live teaching sessions and for asynchronous discussions and activities, which can be recorded.
    • Teams also have been automatically created for each module on Brightspace which allows for discussions and collaborative tasks using the class notebook, Teams also display chats as threaded conversations, so you can easily track the flow of conversation without getting lost. 
    • You can complete work in real-time collaborating with your colleagues as you chat together and work on files through Teams. For more information check links to guides and screencasts here.


    Pre-Record Your Lectures

    Pedagogical Recommendations

    • Keep videos short and lively. It is often harder to focus on a video than on a person. Ten-minute videos are more likely to be watched all the way through by your students than longer videos. The exception is if you're really comfortable on camera and really good at engaging people through video.
    • Test your microphone. Make sure that you have good sound quality before recording the full session.
    • Include tutor presence in the video. Your face can appear in the video in a small box in one of the corners of your video.
    • Keep the screen active. Add in more transitions and animations than you normally use in your slides.
    • Integrate interaction with the lecture material. Consider setting up a discussion board with some specific questions relating to the content; this can be pre or post-session, or both. Alternatively set up a chat session for a text-based live discussion. You should also include quiz questions throughout your lectures to engage learners and allow them to check for understanding as they watch.



    Microsoft Office 365

    • If you do not have PowerPoint (or other Microsoft Office applications) installed on your home computer, you need to go to and log in with your University email account, and then you can access the Office suite apps. 




    Skip Recording the Video

    • If you are not sure you have the right equipment or are uncomfortable with the tech setup, this might be a good option, at least for the short term.
    • It’s very easy when teaching online to set the students nothing but passive tasks: read this text, watch this Youtube video. Some passive, assimilative activity is great; doing nothing but that is not great. So also set students more active tasks: analyse this text using this framework, solve this problem, construct an argument, etc.

    Pedagogical Recommendations

    • Annotate your slideshow with notes and share this with students.
    • Set up a discussion for students in Brightspace. Use specific, structured questions, and let students know expectations for their responses.
    • Share links to outside resources. Encourage students to watch videos, read articles, etc.
    • Use Chat to have a live, text-based chat session with students.


    Social Media

    • Where you have these already in use or are confident you could introduce them, Social Media sites like Facebook and Twitter can become useful communication channels, particularly for promoting the student: student interactions that are missing when they are off-campus.  Social networks, text messaging services, and/or Brightspace tools can also be used to communicate messages to students if classes are canceled, postponed, or changed.


    Office Hours

    • Set up virtual office hours to meet with students using synchronous tools. Make sure students know how to find your “virtual office” (just as you might offer them directions to your office on-campus).



    • Before deciding which tool to use, this Online Meeting Survival Guide provides information on what works and what doesn't, when holding a meeting online.

    • Online meetings between staff can be held via Microsoft Teams which is now available for all staff and students to use. This software can be used for online meetings and small staff-to-student meetings and is easy and intuitive to use. Further details and links to guides and screencasts here.



    • We have developed a Moving Your Module Online (MYMO) module in Brightspace, that is full of resources to support staff with teaching online. Click here to see more.

    • If you need any further help with learning technologies or deciding which tool to use for which purpose, please contact your School's Learning Technology Advisor, listed here.



    If you have any feedback, suggestions for improvement or spot any errors on this page, please email further details to:, thank you.