Guidance for live ‘synchronous’ delivery of teaching in 2020/21

As we prepare for the new Academic Year, here is some guidance on the tools that you can use for live delivery of teaching.

Zoom for online lectures and seminars

As a result of staff feedback collated over the last few months, Zoom is now the recommended platform for delivery of live lecture and seminar sessions. Zoom provides a number of features which surpass the Virtual Classroom including a 300 participant limit, up to 50 breakout rooms, unlimited session lengths and the ability to stream video to your attendees. Zoom is also the best on the market in terms of quality, multi-platform support (including mobile devices), accessibility and user-friendly design. It’s a platform that many are already familiar with and one that we are pleased to support as the primary choice for delivery of live teaching.

Zoom is now integrated with Brightspace and available within units under Communication > Zoom. This means you can schedule sessions from Brightspace which can then be accessed securely by both you and your students when it’s time to run the session. Guidance for using Zoom from Brightspace is available from the Brightspace Staff Resources area.

In addition Zoom is also integrated with Panopto, so when you record sessions they’ll be automatically added to your unit folder in Panopto. You can then easily embed the recorded sessions in your units for students. This provides a consistent video experience for students, and through streaming, allows students to watch recordings securely and cuts out the steps of downloading large video files.

Further training sessions will be available from FLIE during September to help familiarise yourself with the platform.

Decommissioning Virtual Classroom

The Virtual Classroom has been available in Brightspace since its launch in 2017 and has been our recommendation for online lectures and seminars, but now, with the availability of Zoom we will be discontinuing use of the Virtual Classroom.

The Virtual Classroom will be available from Brightspace units for staff until 30th September and available to students until 1st September.

If you have recorded Virtual Classroom sessions that you wish to keep, these must be downloaded by 30th September. Guidance on how to download recorded Virtual Classroom sessions and make them available to students is available from the Brightspace Staff Resources area.

If you experience any difficulties downloading recorded sessions then contact the IT Service Desk 01202 965515 or raise a ticket online. The TEL Development Team will then be in touch to help you.

MS Teams for collaboration and 1:1s

Whilst MS Teams is not integrated with Brightspace, fast tracked work from IT Services to transition staff to the Office365 platform really helps join up the dots by embedding MS Teams into the Office tools that we all use on a regular basis. As you’ll already be aware MS Teams has quickly become the go-to tool for staff meetings and clearly demonstrates benefits for learning and teaching. Use of the ‘Teams’ feature within MS Teams may provide unique opportunities for collaboration powered by the availability of the Office365 apps which allow students to work together on live documents. And, as the ‘Team’ spaces persist between live sessions, use of the embedded chat helps join up an on-going dialogue for collaborative activities.

We are currently also investigating the use of MS Teams to support 1:1 sessions with students. As Office365 is available to staff and students, this means you can quickly connect with students for private conversations by chat or video.

Whilst Zoom will be the recommended platform for lectures and seminars, MS Teams is now supported and worth considering to support specific types of collaborative activities. Further advice and guidance will be developed by FLIE over the coming weeks.

Panopto Live Webcasting for large sessions

Compared to other platforms Panopto Live webcasting is more limited in terms of interactivity; but, it has no limit on the number of participants per session. So, if you need to deliver a session for over 300 people then this is going to be the recommended platform. Naturally sessions with large audiences do tend to become more ‘broadcast’ in nature, but to help keep students engaged you can supplement Panopto Live Webcasts with tools like Mentimeter and Padlet to bring back some audience participation and co-creation.

We are aware that specific courses are expected to have regular sessions scheduled for over 300 students. To help support teaching for these courses we are currently reviewing an enhancement of individual Zoom licenses to increase their capacity from 300 to 500 participants.

Further guidance and support

Online guidance for Brightspace and other TEL Tools is available from the Brightspace Staff Resources area. This includes our Guidance for Remote Delivery.

Guidance on approaches for assessment is available in the Assessment & Feedback Toolkit.

If you have any questions then get in touch with the FLIE team via your Faculty Learning Technologist or contact if you are enquiring from a Professional Service.


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