Teaching and learning online

Updated 19 May 2021

The Government has confirmed that from 17 May all students can return to in-person teaching. For many students, teaching has already ended for the term so rather than joining teaching activities, many students will be completing their assessments. For taught postgraduate students who started university in January, teaching is continuing and you will be contacted by your School about arrangements for in-person teaching.

Regardless of when students return, they must be tested for COVID-19 – and found negative – before they can interact with others or use facilities on campus.

Further details are available on the Summer term arrangements section of this website.

Plans for 2021/22 teaching and research arrangements on campus

Our objective for next session is to provide every student with a substantial and sustained curriculum-based on-campus experience.

This means:

  • Students will receive academically-led, engaging face-to-face teaching activity each week throughout the semester. This includes seminars, tutorials, practical classes, performance activities & discussion groups.
  • They will receive a blended experience, where digital technologies, digital approaches and online learning are used to augment and enrich face-to-face in-person learning activities, and increase access, flexibility and inclusivity.
  • All assessment activities will be taken online other than when there is an exceptional and agreed academic rationale.
  • Teaching activities with high numbers of students, including large lectures, might be mostly online as part of our hybrid approach. However, there will be many other face- to-face activities, as detailed above.
  • We will provide opportunities and space for informal social and group learning on campus.
  • We will support and encourage on-campus co-curricular and extra-curricular activities.
  • Students will be expected to attend campus, and face-to-face sessions will be a core and substantial part of their education and experience.
  • If a student can’t attend in person for exceptional reasons, we will provide an alternative or rescheduled learning experience.

We expect relevant staff to be present on campus to deliver these activities, and campus will continue to be kept ‘Covid-secure’ to support this.

In summary, whilst planning with uncertainty is never easy, we are adopting what we believe is the responsible approach of following the latest scientific predictions and advice. In doing so, our aim is to provide a blended educational provision that optimises the balance between face-to-face and online delivery, based upon both the predicted and the actual circumstances at the time.

Implications for staff are detailed in a separate email sent on 18 May and in an email to students also sent on this day.

Online guidance

The Digital Education Service and OD&PL have developed detailed advice and guidance on taking your teaching and learning online. Please visit the Digital Practice website to access this guidance. On this site, you will also find information on online learning content and teaching materials you can make available to your students to support them with their learning. There is also a handy guide to the resources you need to teach remotely at the University of Leeds as well as specific guidance on Mediasite and the captioning service for lectures. There are also various training sessions organised to provide guidance on using various tools, like Gradescope and Top Hat.

Mediasite desktop recording quiet rooms

If you require a room either to work on your teaching materials, or to record some teaching material, then the Medical Teaching Centre located in the Worsley Building is open weekdays from 8am until 4pm

The Medical Teaching Centre is open to all University of Leeds staff and students. The technical team, located on Level 8 of the building, can provide any advice or assistance you need. You can contact them to book via email at mtc@leeds.ac.uk.

Booking in advance is mandatory to ensure the correct track and trace process is followed; however, you can book on the same day you wish to attend. The building has a large number of Covid secure classrooms, so there is normally some availability for last-minute bookings.

If you have any feedback about the service provided, please contact the Worsley Building Manager, Jon Stothard, via email or Microsoft Teams chat.


Access the support you need in relation to online course design and development via the Digital Education Service helpdesk via the helpdesk web form here. 

Please note that if your enquiry does not relate to online course design and development, we will only be able to support you in the re-direction of your enquiry to an appropriate contact/team within the University. 

The IT Service Desk is the first point of contact for all problems and queries relating to the University’s services and software. Please continue to log any enquiries with IT in the usual way or visit IT Knowledgebase for FAQs and user guides. 

The TIPS Community also have resources available to share best practice between teaching staff at the University, so you may find the answer to your query here. 

Remote Support (Buddy Support)

The Digital Education Service offers remote support (buddy support) to facilitate the transition to independent teaching on Collaborate Ultra, MS Class Teams or Zoom. This buddy support will only be available for complex teaching sessions, or for teaching staff with additional or accessibility needs.  

If you feel as though your teaching session fits that criteria, you can request a buddy to connect remotely to your online teaching session to provide technical assistance and ensure the session runs smoothly via this enquiry form for the Digital Education Helpdesk.  

 Please note that your buddy will not be able to provide pedagogical support or deliver the session for you. 

When you have submitted your request for remote support, you will receive clear communications regarding the status of your request from the online delivery team in the Digital Education Service.  

You will be introduced to your buddy roughly 1 week prior to the session date to provide you with the opportunity to ask any questions, and they will then be available to join your session remotely 15 minutes prior to the start time to support the online delivery of your session. 

There is guidance on how to create a virtual classroom session on the Digital Practice website. 

Professional development events

We have organised professional development events to support staff to design and deliver online learning and teaching and make the most effective use of our systems.

We would ask colleagues with experience of using these systems and approaches to deliver online learning and teaching to support their colleagues and provide advice and support where they can. If you are new to online teaching you may wish to read Neil Morris’ inside track article in which he shares his experiences and thoughts on transitioning to online learning.

Providing academic support to students (personal tutoring)

This guidance is primarily aimed at colleagues who are already involved in directly supporting students academically – named personal tutors, DSEs/Deputy DSEs/programme leaders, module leaders, Heads of Year, Joint Honours Tutors. Given the evolving situation, it also serves as advice for any academic colleague involved in student support over the coming weeks.

How to support students:

  • Email students to reassure them about how your role will work during this period, and introducing any other colleagues who are available to provide support.
  • Where possible, fulfil scheduled tutorial activities online or by phone, either individually or in groups.
  • Maintain a positive individual relationship.
  • Signpost students to appropriate resources that will help them to navigate any challenges and to make the most of the opportunities an online approach to learning offers.

Read detailed guidance on supporting students in the staff email sent out on 31 March 2020.

If you’re concerned about a student please contact the SES Student Support team in your school or faculty, using the generic email account for your school. This will ensure that any issues are addressed.

If you are unwell or unavailable, please make sure that you tell your Head of School or the nominated academic support lead in your School so that appropriate cover can be arranged to fulfil this important role.

More detailed guidance on academic support structures at School and Faculty level will be overseen by the Student Experience Strategy Group.

Reading lists

So your students can access library material related to their module, please make sure your reading list is up to date using the Minerva reading list tool. See the Library’s information on making items available for students and a brief video on using the reading list tool. To discuss any issues in relation to your reading list, please contact the Library.

Lecture capture Students are temporarily permitted to download Mediasite content from module areas so they can access lecture capture recordings offline. This is being run as an opt-in service. This process is subject to change and will be reviewed regularly.

Specialised software for students

The University IT Service is working closely with academic colleagues to confirm which software applications are required for our taught students. As a priority, this will focus on software that is necessary for undergraduate and taught postgraduate final year assessments, including project work and dissertations. Each software application is being assessed on an individual basis to look at the current availability of off-campus access and options to improve this if required.

We are advising students to contact their module or programme leader in the first instance, if they are unsure what specialised software they require for their studies.

Colleagues across the university are working to secure solutions to enable the continuation of study and assessment, and this includes off-campus access to as many software applications as possible which may be required for our students. If you need guidance, in the first instance you should speak to your Director of Student Education. For further assistance or advice, you should contact the Digital Education Service. Guidance on software for students has been published on the Student FAQs page.

Students with disabilities

You can access information on how to teach disabled students remotely.

You can make learning materials more accessible for students by using text captions on your online lecture material. This is all held on Mediasite and can be accessed via library services, or the Digital Education Service. More information on capturing can be found by visiting our ‘Making learning materials more accessible for students’ page.