Let it snow! Online options to beat the winter


Sussex in the snow

The Autumn term is over and the weather is turning colder. Bad weather and illness can disrupt well-laid plans for face-to-face teaching, but digital technologies offer ways for learning to continue, despite the worst that winter can throw at us.

Digitally re-imagining seminars

If bad weather or other circumstances prevent meeting on campus, you could try to recreate a seminar discussion in an online forum, but why not take the opportunity to experiment with something that you wouldn’t usually do in a face-to-face session?

Students could each write a blog post and share links via a Study Direct forum. Blogs can include images, web links and video alongside text to create really rich resources while the less formal style allows students to express themselves in a different way than they would in an academic essay. Students might be encouraged to peer review each others posts with the process of reflecting and commenting aiding the development of critical skills. Blogging supports a range of digital literacies important for graduates’ employability.


Podcasting for learning

You could also try Podcasting (an audio file, or a series of audio files, that are made available to listeners over the internet) . Podcasts are a great alternative for delivering research content or lessons. See TEL’s new Podcasting page for ideas on how to implement Podcasting in your teaching and learning.

For a more communal activity that is easy to set up and allows a range of types of contribution why not try Padlet? The Padlet gallery will give you some idea of the ways that this versatile tool can be used in an educational context. It is easy and free to set up a Padlet wall and participants can contribute from any web-enabled device. The resulting wall can then be embedded in a Study Direct site.

This could also be a good opportunity to let students explore digital tools that will help them throughout their studies. Tutors could task students with using a web-based or mobile app to collect and organise resources relevant to the week’s topic. There are lots of relevant tools in the Sussex TEL A-Z of apps that could be used.

If the live discussion experience is what you want, then Todaysmeet might be the thing for you. Unless you have already been using Twitter in your teaching, in which case organising a live tweetchat could be an exciting development.

Reading and resources

With online reading lists linked into Study Direct modules and increasingly
including Ebooks or online journal articles, students can get on with reading even if they cannot get to the library.

Study Direct allows tutors to include a range of digital resources so why not add to the resources on your module by finding a ‘guest lecture’ on the ‘University’ channel on YouTube or add an RSS block to pull in headlines from a relevant publication .

Lectures and presentations

Lectures are difficult to reschedule, but if there isn’t a recording of a previous year’s lecture to share with students, lecturers could make short screencasts (up to 10 minutes) of key concepts with a tool such as the Chrome extension Screencastify. The same tool could be used by students whose formative seminar presentations have to be cancelled.

Accessing your files from off campus

If you cannot get to campus you may need to access your work files from another computer and staff can do this using Windows Remote (whether you use a PC or Mac). Details of how to set this up are on the IT Services website. Or you might want to keep copies of teaching materials in Dropbox in which case see the ITS advice on how to use Dropbox from a university PC.
So whatever the weather this winter, there are ways to keep the learning going – and you might find some resources, tools and activities that are useful all year round.



Image 1 creative commons licensed (BY) flickr photo by catmachine: http://flickr.com/photos/catmachine/8391400587

Image 2 creative commons licensed (BY) flickr photo by nsolop www.nicolassolop.com  http://flickr.com/photos/96932645@N06/12802818523

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