You are likely to have platforms at your disposal which can help ensure the continuity of teaching and learning in situations where staff and/or learners find themselves unable to physically attend campus.
It is common to find pockets of good practice in universities and colleges for making teaching resources available remotely as part of a blended or flipped learning model. The challenge is therefore how to extend these approaches at short notice across all areas, regardless of previous engagement or enthusiasm for online delivery.
Realistically it’s likely that teaching staff will need to adopt a ‘just in time’ model – looking to the week(s) ahead to ensure that learners continue to have access to the content required at that moment.
Providing access to resources
Your virtual learning environment (VLE) will have a pivotal role to play in delivering online content to your learners. Depending on its current status and level of use across teaching staff, you may wish to send reminders to all teaching staff covering:
- Usernames and passwords
- Basic user functionality (creating modules, managing content etc)
- Sources of further help
Where the VLE could become the primary source of contact your students have with their learning, it is a good idea to ensure the pages are kept relevant to the current topic/week/project. This will encourage students to revisit the pages more and give them the confidence that the information they are seeing is correct and up to date. Stale pages give a bad experience at the best of times and could be concerning for a student unable to physically connect with your institution.
You might also want to consider creating online opportunities for teaching staff to share knowledge and experiences of using the VLE and foster an environment where staff, who haven’t previously engaged, feel comfortable with asking basic questions.
Ensuring inclusion with accessible resources
In the rush to host teaching resources online, it is important not to overlook the importance of inclusion.
Learners with disabilities or other additional support needs may feel especially vulnerable if separated from the sources of support they rely on. Creating resources in inaccessible formats such as screen grabs or PDFs could risk increasing their sense of isolation and anxiety.
The good practice emerging as a result of the EU accessibility regulations (The Public Sector Bodies (Websites and Mobile Applications) (No. 2) Accessibility Regulations 2018) may be useful here.
Providing staff with accessible document templates would make it easier for them. If your institution does not already use templates with accessibility elements built in, the University of Sussex has produced a quick guide [CC-BY-4.0] to creating accessible content - its key messages are available as a downloadable poster. SCULPT [CC-BY-NC-SA-4.0] by Worcestershire County Council is a useful resource for understanding the basics and also has downloadable posters available. For more detail, see the LexDis staff guides [CC-BY-4.0].
Creating accessible content is creating clear content and will benefit all learners and any steps that can practically be taken in this direction and within the circumstances and scenario in which you are operating are likely to be useful.
Using digital content
Don’t forget that all the digital content you licence from Jisc, be they books, journals or multimedia resources can all be accessed off campus.
You can check online your current subscriptions, or view the catalogue for all the content that is available from Jisc via, or speak to your Account Manager
- License subscriptions manager
- Information on meeting the accessibility regulations
- TechRadar article on the best document scanning apps
- LexDis guide to accessible documents
- Government advice specific to public sector bodies such as universities and colleges
- Guidance on the effective structure and layout of courses on a VLE (based around Blackboard but the advice is generic and applicable to any VLE platform)
- Ensure all teaching staff can access and know the basics of how to use the VLE
- Ensure all teaching staff have access to support in using the VLE
- Ensure the accessibility of all content you make available to learners online