This document will help to inform you about the choices you might need to make when preparing for delivering tutorials while following the University’s approach to Flexible and Inclusive Teaching (FiT). We know that many of you have existing tools you already use; this information will help you think about how to get the best from those.
What are the challenges?
Traditional face-to-face tutorials are to be encouraged when the situation allows, although this will not always be possible. Due to the nature of tutorial teaching with small numbers of students, every effort should be made to schedule tutorials to allow all students to attend. When tutorials are planned to take place remotely and online, different time zones may make it difficult for remote students to join in real-time. Flexibility may be required in order to accommodate students as best as reasonably possible. Students’ physical locations/time zones may be worth considering when coordinating pairings or groups for tutorials. On occasion, it may be necessary to run two tutorials in a single week or run beyond the 8 weeks of term.
Recommended Options and Tools
The key recommended tool to facilitate tutorial teaching remotely is Microsoft Teams (often also referred to as MS Teams or simply Teams). Teams allows synchronous communication with multiple users using audio and video as well as text chat. It is also possible to share your screen with other users. Every user at the University has access to Microsoft Teams as part of the Nexus365 suite of office tools.
In order to communicate with students and facilitate the organisation of the tutorials themselves (such as sharing files, problem sheets and reading lists with students), there are several options.
Option 1: Canvas (recommended)
Using the University’s VLE, Canvas, as a means of structuring your tutorial teaching is our recommended approach as it provides the largest range of tools and allows you to most clearly structure the content required to support the live tutorial teaching.
Teams is integrated into Canvas to the extent that when creating content within Canvas it is possible to create a link to a Teams meeting. The content editor when creating an Announcement, Page or Calendar event allows you to create a link to a Teams meeting by clicking the down-arrow icon and then choosing the “Microsoft Teams Meeting” option:
Files can be shared with students and assignments can be set up if students are required to submit problem sheets or other work ahead of a tutorial. There are lots of options for providing feedback within Canvas using the SpeedGrader tool (text, audio and video feedback options are available).
Other tools which could be of use to support tutorial teaching include the discussion forums and quizzes. Tutorials that happen via Teams meetings could be recorded and shared back on the page using Panopto which is also integrated within Canvas. You should familiarise yourself with the University’s policies on recording teaching sessions, particularly with regard to privacy issues.
A tutorial course can be requested by emailing the Centre for Teaching and Learning. A template can be provided as part of the course activation, which gives additional guidance and suggestions for use. These templates have been developed in consultation with departments, Education Policy Support and the Disability Advisory Service. They have recently been updated to reflect the FiT approach at Oxford. Once created you can enrol students in your Canvas course manually or through the Oxford Groups tool.
Canvas guidance for staff.
For support and advice, contact the Canvas Team at IT Services.
Option 2: Class Team
While you may primarily think of Teams as videoconferencing software, it also contains a number of features for communicating, sharing and collaborating within a group. This is achieved by creating a “team” within Teams. Once a number of individuals have been added to a team they can communicate via chat and share and collaborate on Office documents.
A special type of team is available in Teams called a “Class Team”. This has all the same chat, file sharing and collaboration features as a regular team but also adds the ability to define teachers and students. You can then set assignments for the students where they need to submit work and there is a facility for the teacher to leave feedback within the system that only the student will see.
At the University, in order to create a team within Teams you need to make a request via Self Service. (See the “Create Nexus365 Team or Group” from the most popular options). As part of the request there is the option to choose the type of Team – you should choose “Class”.
External users can be invited to join a Teams meeting using their email address. They will receive a link via email. On accessing the meeting, they will be required to wait in a ‘lobby’ until one of the authorised organisers admits them.
Microsoft Teams meetings can be set up via Outlook or the Nexus365 app.
Option 3: Email only (not recommended)
This may be the method that you already use with face to face tutorials. Emails can be sent to students informing them of upcoming tutorials and including links or attachments to readings and other files necessary for the session. While an effective means of communication, there is no way to provide materials in a structured manner and there is no efficient workflow to allow students to submit work or receive feedback.
Most staff should have access to the web version of Microsoft Outlook as part of the Nexus365 suite.
Canvas Tools (including external tools that are integrated seamlessly into Canvas)
Oxford Canvas help
|What can it be used for?
||Communicate quickly to all students on a course; link to resources or other items in the course.
||Email; but it’s better to use Announcements which are all stored in the course area
Students submit work for review and feedback by tutor (not seen by other students); student work can be batch downloaded, reviewed in Word, and returned to students through the same assignment.
Students can submit timed, hand-written essays for exam practice; the tutor can provide personal feedback using SpeedGrader (text, audio or video) and annotation.
|Students could “submit” (i.e. send) files via email, but handling and record-keeping needs to be done manually
||Asynchronous discussions can be used to encourage student participation, debate and intellectual contributions. Can include images and files; includes option to configure how students reply; easy way for students to share and comment on peers’ work; or invite an external subject expert to provide input.
||Class Notebook function in Canvas; Email (not advisable); WhatsApp/Facebook group (not university supported)
||Make learning materials available to students (Word documents, PDFs, PowerPoint presentations etc); can be added into Module structure for all students in the course, or restricted to Groups (if set up in course).
||Microsoft Teams; OneDrive; SharePoint; Attach files to email
||Collaborative workspaces within a course, for particular sub-groups of students; provides separate file space and group discussion (not visible to other students on the course).
Microsoft Teams meetings
Can be used for live (synchronous) meetings where all users can participate or share screens; similar to Canvas Conferences (see above); meetings can be set up from within Canvas. Requires users to have speakers, and a microphone if audio participation is needed – those built into a laptop are usually adequate.
|Other locally supported video conferencing tools
||An easy way to organise content in a logical order (e.g. by topic, by week, by session). Content items can be combined with discussions, files, assignments, quizzes and other course tools.
||A personal website
(integrated into Canvas)
A lecture recording tool integrated into Canvas; can be installed on a personal computer and used to record any kind of presentation (including applications or web pages open on your screen); recordings can be saved into the Canvas course and reviewed by students at any time. Both textual and audio content is searchable.
Also supports a ‘webcast’ feature which enables a presentation to be broadcast and recorded in real time.
Use PowerPoint to add audio narration to slides; export as a video and then upload and share in Panopto
||Good for pre- or post-tutorial questions, testing understanding, revision questions; collates answers in a format that is easy to review. Discover gaps in student knowledge ahead of tutorial.
||Microsoft Forms; Email
||Direct recording of webcam or audio from within a Canvas tool such as an announcement, page, or discussion. For example, can be used in a discussion to introduce and explain the topic.
Using non-university supported platforms (such as Zoom, Skype, Google Hangouts or Duo)
Some students may have trouble with bandwidth connection or accessing specific resources. We are not aware of any restrictions by countries on accessing the major University services but some non-University systems are prohibited in some countries. We strongly recommend you keep to the University-supported suite of tools. Be aware that if students (or staff) contact IT support due to issues with using/installing any non-supported software, we will be unable to assist them.
IT Services has produced a comparison table for different video conferencing tools.
The Centre for Teaching and Learning provides advice on the pedagogical aspects of remote teaching and learning when using locally supported platforms.