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Small group teaching

Technology can help enhance learning, whether you are teaching in-person or at a distance. Take a look at the advice below to see how you can embrace digital in your teaching and learning. There are tips for everyone - whether you feel like making some simple or larger changes.

A man with headphones on speaking into a microphone.

1. Give clear expectations to students

When teaching small groups, it's good practice to let students know what they need to be doing and when so they can prepare in advance of a session to make the most of their learning. For example, forewarning students before an online synchronous session, if you want them to have their cameras on. This gives them time to be prepared and having the video on can improve digital wellbeing and student engagement.

You could also use Resource lists (Leganto) in Moodle to make it clear to students what you expect them to read or the software to use for their module.

All related teaching and learning material needs to meet accessibility expectations and be available to students at least 3 working days before the event.

2. Be inclusive and accessible

It is the department’s/programme’s decision to record all, part or none of a seminar. The decision will be influenced by the type of seminar, the level and type of student interaction required. If the department decides not enable students to access recordings of seminars (note only a single repeat of multiple seminars would normally be provided) then alternative mechanisms to enable student learning associated with seminar teaching events must be devised.

See the Small Group specific accessibility expectations in the Accessibility guide for further information.

A braille keyboard.
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3. Use apps to encourage interaction during in-person or live online sessions

Consider using apps to engage students during your session, whether teaching in-person or synchronously online - such as doing quick polls/surveys with Microsoft Forms (which you can link into Teams chats space) or Moodle Active Quiz. Turning Point is also useful for student interactions as they can use their own devices to vote or answer a quick question and link into a PowerPoint slide. Polls and surveys are great to get quick opinion and act as a starting point for deeper discussions.

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4. Utilise app features when teaching synchronously online

You could use Microsoft Teams to deliver online synchronous sessions and share your screen/presentations with others. Teams supports auto captioning which your students can turn on if they wish. Consider taking advantage of the breakout feature in Teams to split your group into smaller teams to discuss a topic and then re-join the larger group. You can also record the session in Teams, this is especially useful for those students who cannot attend the live session such as those who are in a different time zone or have poor bandwidth connection, they can watch it back at a later time without being disadvantaged.

Take a look at the Communication and collaboration with Microsoft Teams online course and Engaging students online in live sessions online course to find out more.

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A woman writing notes on an iPad.

5. Encourage student collaboration

Consider making use of Teams groups, Moodle discussion forums or Class OneNote features to provide addition learning opportunities, either as part of the session or to support activities before/after the session. They are great at encouraging group collaboration and reflection.

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6. Make use of technology to enhance teaching and learning

When using technology, it's good practice to check that it works with your audience at the start of each session e.g. check they can see your slides when teaching synchronously online or when teaching in-person classes, ensure your microphone is switched on and turned up so people can hear you clearly at the back of the room, can they see the slides, do you need to zoom in on the visualiser? Take a look at IT equipment and technology in spaces on campus for more information and instructions on how to use it.

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A woman on a Lenovo laptop.

7. Add some variety in student presentations

There are a range of apps that your students could use for student presentations, from the more traditional PowerPoint slides, to more interactive content - like Microsoft Sway or Canva. Where visuals aren't needed, your students might want to create a podcast audio recording instead. If you do decide to reuse any student material in your teaching, you'll need to make sure it's accessible.

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8. Consider virtual access for labs and workshops

If you can't do in-person teaching for labs and workshops, consider online alternatives. Virtual PC labs are available to students via the MyLab service. If you are pre-recording a video for a lab, it's good practice to give clear audio descriptions of what you are doing to ensure a visually impaired person can access the content. You could also consider using Box of Broadcasts from the Library , virtual lab simulations in LearnSci (formally Learning Science, in Chemistry & Biology) or add broadcast TV content to Moodle using eStream's Electronic programme guide (EPG). If you require a professional video recording of a small group teaching event, such as a lab demonstrations or student presentations, you could use the Digital Media Service which produces videos for staff at Lancaster campus (focused on teaching and learning activities).

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