COVID-19: Moving to Teaching Online

The below covers several options and suggestions for moving your face-to-face teaching to an online environment for the Faculty of Health Sciences. You don’t need to do all suggestions but select one or two that fit your requirements and that you can become comfortable with.

Quick links

Faculty of Health Sciences Guidance:

The University’s guidance for Teaching Online is available here


How to get support

Please send any request for support or general queries for transitioning to teaching and learning online to: cfme-elearning@bristol.ac.uk. This is a shared email box monitored by all members of the Faculty’s Technology Enhanced Learning (TEL) team. The mailbox should be used unless direct contact with a member of staff has already been established in which case please continue to contact them. All requests will be managed across the Faculty TEL team and we will work with you to support your online teaching and learning requirements and find the most appropriate and practical solution(s).

University Support

The university has developed guidance to support academics and teaching support staff prepare and place teaching online from 20 April 2020: University’s Teaching Online Guidance. It includes many links on how to carry out online learning activities within Blackboard, Re/Play and other digital tools, and sets out overarching guidance that every course unit should follow. This doesn’t fit with all the Faculty’s Professional and taught MSc programmes where students are on placement in clinical non-university settings and not taught by university academics or are studying part-time and/or at a distance sometimes overseas.

Additional guidance and advice for additional activities and tools used by the Faculty of Health Sciences can be found below. The Faculty TEL team is working closely with the Digital Education Office to ensure efforts are coordinated. There is some repetition to ensure the advice and guidance below is comprehensive.

Staff can book an ad-hoc Skype (or similar) meeting with a member of the FHS TEL team. Please contact us on cfme-elearning@bristol.ac.uk or your usual TEL team contact to discuss your requirements.


Guidance and online learning activities we can help you with

All programmes within the Faculty of Health Sciences have well organised Blackboard courses from which you can present your online learning activities. For any online learning make sure the learning outcomes are clear for each online activity. When giving live sessions, remember it takes longer as you need to allow for some thinking time and for students to feedback and contribute. A good example is the digital daily session given by Prof Tansy Jessop which can be found here (you may need to Self Enrol on the course, available from the left-hand menu, to view it).

As with face-to-face teaching, students can be invited to read or do something prior to attending a formal session (e.g. live or recorded presentation or discussion session) as preparation or pre-learning, carry out a learning activity during the session, and a reflective activity and/or further learning activity post-session and in preparation for the next session. In this way you can create a thread pulling together all the ‘chunks’ of learning guided by the learning outcomes.

For all learning activities, follow this simple structure as outlined in the university guidance: 

  1. Clear instructions for learning 
  2. An input or provocation 
  3. A guided activity 
  4. A checkpoint/opportunity for feedback. 

Many of you will be concerned that students will not engage with learning if teaching is done purely online. The Digital Education Office have put together guidance on maintaining presence online with students to provide some ideas for engaging with your students. You could also link up live with your students for regular briefings (for example in a ‘Welcome to this Week…’) using Skype for Business, which supports large group sessions up to 250 participants. Read our guide to managing large Skype meetings.

Further suggestions are below: 

Suggested online learning activities

Using existing teaching resources and drawing on other online resources:

  • Add audio to your slides: 
    Narration can be recorded easily within Microsoft PowerPoint. You will need access to the full software version to do this, which you can download from the University’s Office Portal if you do not yet have it installed.
  • You can also record a narrated slideshow presentation or any on- screen activity using the Mediasite Desktop Recorder. It is available to all University staff, and will need a few minutes to set up on a laptop. Go to the Re/Play Help organisation in Blackboard, and go to “Desktop Recorder” from the menu options, or contact cfme-elearning@bristol.ac.uk for support and guidance on how to use the tool.
  • Set reading and/or key resources to work through:
    Provide links to other resources and online learning materials. If the materials don’t include interactivity include a task for them to do. This could be to ‘note down 3 key things on xxx’ or ask them to consider a particular aspect/argument or critique the resource. Add links to the relevant Blackboard course either yourself if you have permission or through the relevant programme/year/unit administrators.
  • Add media:
    for example audio and video-based materials (e.g. YouTube or Box of Broadcasts – see next point). Set students an activity whilst they are listening/watching that you can use as a discussion point.
  • Box of Broadcasts is a very useful service provided by Learning on Screen that allows you to share episodes and customisable clips from previously broadcast shows on BBC1 London / BBC2 / BBC4 / ITV London / Channel 4 / More4 / Channel 5 / BBC Radio 4 / BBC Radio 4 Extra.
    View our guidance on how to create a clip for your teaching material.
  • Invite students to input their thoughts/opinions/feedback onto a shared space. Padlet is a web-based, collaborative tool that allows your students to share a wide range of content that all other students can view. This can be done live during an online session or asynchronously. (This is especially useful if students are in different time zones or not able to connect at the same time.)
    View our basic introduction to Padlet and its features.
  • Collate resources and weave a narrative using Sway, part of the Microsoft Office 365 suite of tools. Sway can be likened to an interactive workbook/interactive pre-reading. Interactivity can be built in using embeddable resources such as Padlet, or Microsoft Forms, another Office 365 tool. Responses from Microsoft Forms are collated in a spreadsheet which you can then view, summarise and feedback to students in between teaching sessions. 
    Read the guidance from Dr Joe Hartland, 3D (Disability, Disadvantage and Diversity) Helical Theme and Public and Patient Engagement Lead/TLHP Tutor.
  • Link to previous years lectures on RePlay:
    e.g. 2018/19 lecture recordings can be made available in the 2019/20 catalogue. Add an activity to encourage critical thinking or a short quiz (this could be done in Blackboard). Contact cfme-elearning@bristol.ac.uk to request links to lectures and for advice on assembling a quiz in Blackboard or other appropriate tool.
  • Run a live Webinar using Blackboard Collaborate which could combine input, activity and feedback. Collaborate has a whiteboard and discussion space. This is harder for large groups for activity and feedback and more useful for small group teaching/case-based learning (see later on in this document). Read the best-practice guidance from the DEO
  • Creating engaging and interactive self-directed resources:
    Xerte is a simple, easy-to-use authoring tool for creating effective and engaging digital learning materials. It’s designed for educators to create interactive learning activities, including self-test quizzes, without the need for any coding or programming knowledge. Xerte is available to UoB and honorary/associate staff at https://xerte.bristol.ac.uk, and can be accessed from most web browsers. Projects can be authored collaboratively by sharing access amongst users.
    Read our guidance on how to get started with Xerte 

Ideas for Practicals/Laboratory sessions/Clinical skills and examinations

Annotated videos and simulations: These may exist online (e.g. YouTube) or can be created and uploaded to Re/Play. Add relevant links to your Blackboard course/OneNote ClassNoteBooks for CBL. Add a learning task for students to do when watching videos, e.g. contribute to a Padlet (see above) which all learners can view and can be linked to the OneNote ClassNoteBook. Equipment and support is available to produce your own short audio and video resources – please get in contact.

Ideas for Online small group collaborative learning/Case Based Learning/Tutorials

  • Skype for Business:
    Skype is a personal video conferencing system, available to everyone and can support up to 250 participants. It has less functionality than Blackboard Collaborate but is easier to set up and use for those that are familiar with it. Tutors and students can schedule these meetings, or can speak to a member of the TEL team or a Year Admin Lead for assistance. If bandwidth is limited, once all participants are linked up and have greeted each other, ask students to switch off their camera and just use audio. Skype also has a text chat tool so students could ask questions or you can invite contributions, thoughts, etc.
    Read our guidance about how to set up a Skype Meeting in Outlook
    Guidance for setting up Skype for Business at home
    • Should Skype not work, WhatsApp could be used as an alternative as a chat tool. In those instances where students maybe asked to construct an anatomical model, creative piece or other artefact, students can take photos and short videos and chat about these.
  • Padlet:
    See above, can be used to augment small group collaborative learning live or asynchronously, the latter useful for students in different time zones. You can also embed a Padlet in certain online resources such as Sway. 
  • e-Voting using TurningPoint:
    Students are able to use their mobile device and/or laptop to vote on questions posed live in a Powerpoint presentation. Please get in touch with us at cfme-elearning@bristol.ac.uk if you would like help getting started, as you will need to install TurningPoint software on your laptop to create these voting slides. 
    Further information and guidance from the Digital Education Office is available.
  • OneNote ClassNoteBook:
    Those courses using this to support CBL can continue to carry out collaborative learning away from the classroom setting and is ideally set up for this. Consider adding additional resources, videos, podcasts, library resources, etc to the ClassNoteBooks as well as embedding Microsoft forms and Padlets to encourage participation and critical thinking. Students and facilitators could link up through Skype for facilitation and discussion sessions (see above). Skype sessions can be recorded for those students who may be on different time zones. In these instances, add activities that can be done asynchronously.
    Read our short guide for CBL and other (e.g. Effective Consulting) facilitators.

An all-staff ‘Daily Digital’ around one easy technique to inspire you is being run centrallyDaily virtual drop-in sessions are available from the Digital Education Office – https://www.bristol.ac.uk/digital-education/noticeboard/Live sessions are being recorded.