Deputy Principal (Learning and Teaching) Weekly Update - Top tips for teaching in physically distanced contexts

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This week’s article has been written with Professor Martha Caddell, Director of the Learning and Teaching Academy.

This week’s topic – top tips for teaching in physically distanced contexts.

On Campus Teaching in Academic Year 2020/21

Academic Year 2020/21 will be different. Whilst not all students or staff will be on campus, those that are will value the opportunity to meet in-person. How can best use be made of this time? Here are a few tips.

Keep yourself and your students safe

As with all our activities this year, it is important that the whole community follows Covid-safe campus guidance. This will require careful thinking through of even the most basic arrangements – for example, movement into and out of classroom space.  

Plan ahead

Clearly communicate to students what they should do before, during and after the class. The announcements page on your Course site on the VLE (Vision) can be helpful in supporting this. Consider what technologies/resources you and your students will need or will have available to use. Ensure students know what is expected of them well in advance.

Make the most of campus time

Focus on those activities and interactions that are more effective on campus or harder to deliver online. This may include use of specialist equipment, collaborating in specific learning spaces and activities that build community across the group.

Keep learning active

Learning is not a spectator sport! Even with physical distancing, you will still be able to build in opportunities for meaningful engagement and interaction. For example, you will still be able to do ‘think, pair, share’ activities, small group activities and polling (with or without the use of technology).

Making the ‘blend’ of learning work for your students

Think about how the online and on-campus aspects of your course fit together. Even if you are teaching some students on campus, your online site remains the hub where students will access course resources and come together to discuss and develop their understanding of the course. Make connections between online and on-campus activity clear. For example, ask a question or set a challenge for them to consider in class. They can then share ideas after class in the online discussion boards.

Be flexible

This continues to be a challenging time for everyone. In particular, students may not be starting at the same level that they have in previous years, given all the disruption to their learning. Be flexible and supportive in how you address this. 

Enjoy the opportunity to meet students in-person

Make the most of the opportunity on-campus teaching gives to build community and connections within your course and across programmes. As opportunities to engage with one another in person are more limited this year, it is more important than ever that we make the most of what we have.

Further Information

Further information and staff resources supporting the delivery of Responsive Blended Learning can be accessed through the Learning and Teaching Academy website.

COVID-19 help and advice

The University is monitoring the coronavirus COVID-19 guidance and acting on the latest official health and travel advice relevant to each campus in the UK, Dubai and Malaysia.

If you have any of the following symptoms you should book a test online or call 0800 028 2816 if unable to access the online service:

  • a new continuous cough
  • fever/high temperature
  • loss of, or change in, sense of smell or taste.

If you are a student or member of staff and have any concerns about symptoms or interaction with others please contact SafeGuarding through the SafeZone app or on 0131 451 3500.

More information can be found on our dedicated help site.