Tutorial and small group teaching options

This document will help to inform you about the choices you might need to make when preparing for remote teaching . 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.


As a tutor I need a facility for synchronous (real-time) communication with my students in an online environment; this might also include the ability for students to share and discuss their work.

I might also need to provide teaching materials in a structured way (such as by week or term); set up a way for students to submit formative work (for which I can provide feedback); or create self-tests in the form of quizzes.

Note: This guide attempts to accommodate common scenarios across the University. If you need guidance or advice for a bespoke situation, please email the Teaching Remotely Service Desk, giving details of your requirements.

The University currently supports two virtual learning environments (VLEs) – Canvas and WebLearn. Detailed guidance for staff members can be found within each VLE (you may be asked to log in with your single signon credentials), as follows:

Canvas guidance for staff
For support and advice, contact: Canvas Service Desk

WebLearn guidance for staff 
For support and advice, contact: WebLearn Service Desk

This guide provides basic information about both VLEs, as well as other tools that you might like to consider in moving into remote teaching for tutorials and other small groups.

Do I have access?

Most university teaching staff have access to Canvas via your single sign on account; however your access to courses might vary:

  1.  If your faculty or department has been involved in the Canvas rollout project, you might already be enrolled on appropriate courses which can be used; contact your local programme or course administrator or Teaching Remotely helpdesk to find out.
  2. If you do not have access to a course in Canvas, a tutorial course can be requested by emailing Teaching Remotely helpdesk. A template can be provided as part of the course activation, which gives additional guidance and suggestions for use. Once created you can enrol students manually or through the Oxford Groups tool.

Canvas Tools (including external tools that are integrated seamlessly into Canvas)

Oxford Canvas help


Uses: Communicate quickly to all students on a course; link to resources or other items in the course.

Alternatives: Email; but it’s better to use Announcements which are all stored in the course area


Uses: 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.

Alternatives: Students could “submit” (i.e. send) files via email, but handling and record-keeping needs to be done manually


Uses: 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.

Alternatives: Class Notebook function in Canvas; Email (not advisable); WhatsApp/Facebook group (not university supported)

File uploads

Uses: 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).

Alternatives: Microsoft Teams; OneDrive; SharePoint; Attach files to email


Uses: 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 (integrated into Canvas)

Uses: 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.

Alternatives: Email; but it’s better to use Announcements which are all stored in the course area


Uses: 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.

Alternatives: A personal website


Uses: 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.

Alternatives: Use PowerPoint to add audio narration to slides; export as a video and then upload and share in Panopto


Uses: 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.

Alternatives: Microsoft Forms; Email

Video recording

Uses: 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.

Do I have access?

All university staff have access to Weblearn. If you are not sure if you have a suitable site, please contact your local Weblearn co-ordinator in the first instance. If your department/year of study has already migrated to Canvas from WebLearn then continue to use your existing Canvas course areas. If not, then continue to use WebLearn for the foreseeable future.

WebLearn offers most of the tools as described in the Canvas table above, for example, Announcements, Assignments, Discussions, File uploads, Quizzes, and integration with Panopto and Turnitin.

Please see the task-based guidelines for some ideas on how to set up task-based activities in Weblearn.

Do I have access?

Most staff should have access to Microsoft Teams as part of the Nexus365 suite.

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. 

If you are using Canvas we recommend that you set up Teams meetings from within a Canvas course. 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 Meetings” option:

Microsoft teams mettings option in the Canvas editor

Do I have access?

Most staff should have access to the web version of Microsoft Outlook of as part of the Nexus365 suite.

If you already use tools that are not centrally supported to communicate with your students, and these are sufficient for your needs, then we encourage you to continue using them. 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.

Teaching Remotely Service Desk

Please contact us at


Please note: there is currently an issue with this email address

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