Inclusive and flexible tutorials

Tutorials will be face to face where possible, following guidance for physical distancing and face coverings to protect staff and students.

A flexible and inclusive approach to tutorials is one which minimises the barriers to participation caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and enables ‘live’ components to switch between face to face and remote teaching if necessary.


Pedagogical guidance

In general, planning for a mix of teaching and learning activities is the most flexible and inclusive approach. For tutorials this might include sharing resources online, requiring students to submit work digitally, and establishing guidelines for how tutorials would be run.

Feedback from our tutor and student surveys in Trinity term 2020 indicate a high level of satisfaction with remote tutorials of up to four students. However, there are a number of challenges specific to remote tutorials:

  • discussions were longer  

  • both students and tutors found them more intense and tiring 

  • digital whiteboards sometimes didn’t work 

  • Internet connections could be unreliable 

Tutors recommend:

  • taking a simple but well-planned approach

  • setting clear expectations

  • making time for an initial meeting with students before your first tutorial 

  • having short one-to-one sessions to share feedback on student work  

These strategies will enable you to build rapport and check students can access resources and participate online. You may want to adapt what you plan to achieve in your tutorials, moving some activities online for completion before or after the tutorial (asynchronous), ensuring breaks if tutorials are long, or getting students to share their screen to show slides, text or visual material. As the below visual shows all these approaches work well in face to face and online tutorials.


tutorial pathway


You might need to establish guidelines for remote tutorials. Both tutors and students have noted that it is especially important in remote tutorials for everyone to enable their video camera, since it helps to replicate the experience of a face to face tutorial. You can also remind students of the features in Teams including blurring backgrounds to retain privacy and turning on live captions.

You should review your reading list to ensure that resources can be accessed online and find alternatives should that be necessary. The Bodleian Libraries staff have resumed the scan and deliver service, so you may be able to request digital copies of some material. 

Technical guidance

Canvas and Microsoft Teams (often referred to as MS Teams or simply Teams) provide functionality for tutorial teaching. Think of Canvas as providing asynchronous/permanent structure to your tutorials and Teams as providing live/synchronous functionality.  Then add tools to support interactivity such as using a shared whiteboard, polling during a live session, and quizzes within Canvas.

Canvas allows you to create structured content and resources for students to access as well as a means of contacting students and receiving work. In consultation with academics and Colleges, the Centre for Teaching and Learning has created a number of Canvas course templates, including one for tutorial teaching. Forums can be set up to have asynchronous discussions on a topic, and Assignments can be set up for students to submit work and Speedgrader then allows you to provide feedback to students in several ways – typed feedback, annotations, audio or video.

Teams provides live conferencing with audio, video and screen sharing. The chat functionality is good for informal discussions (which are retained for referring to later). Teams can be used in isolation if the additional structure and functionality afforded by Canvas are not required – you can also share files with students in Teams as well as receive work from them.

Although Teams is the University-supported platform for running live sessions, you may have a specific need to use alternative conferencing software with similar functionality, such as Zoom or Skype. Be aware that non-University supported software may have security or privacy implications and may also incur a cost for unlimited use. Ensure that any materials that you need to share with students are easily accessible from a laptop. Where possible, save any Word or PowerPoint documents in PDF format before uploading to make viewing online quicker and easier.

It can be very distressing for a student to find they cannot participate in remote sessions alongside their peers. Consider recording any live sessions and making them available on Canvas for students to review and for students who were unable to attend live sessions. It is recommended that you request that all Teams meetings have phone (dial-in) access. See the guidance on supporting students with poor wifi connections

Useful links

Many departments and faculties are reflecting upon how programmes are taught, what materials are assigned and how students are assessed. Academics and administrators who would like to consult with the CTL as they design flexible and inclusive programmes may contact us at

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Resources for flexible and inclusive teaching