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Last updated: 25 August 2020, 08:08

Information for staff

Supporting Student Learning Online

​In response to COVID-19


The current situation

What does this mean for teaching?

What does this mean for assessment?

Who needs to approve changes to my assessment?

Preparing to teach online: alternative formats for face-to-face teaching

   Lectures, tutorials and supervisions

   Pre-recorded video

   Live webinars

What about teaching that cannot be transferred online, such as practicals or labs?

Starting to teach online: What to do first if you cannot teach face-to-face

What are our plans to replace timetabled unseen examinations?

What are our plans to replace other forms of assessment which require a face-to-face presence?

Building your network online




Other COVID Arrangements

COVID Arrangements: Programme Assessment Boards

COVID Arrangements: Programme Leader Communications Guidance

COVID Arrangements: Teaching Spaces on Campus


The current situation

The current Coronavirus pandemic is requiring us to respond to a fast-changing situation and take rapid, but reasonable steps to ensure continuity in the learning and teaching support for our students. This page will continue to be updated as the situation develops and in response to your feedback. We would welcome constructive feedback on the page, so that we can continue to develop resources and guidance for colleagues. DLTE is also offering online sessions as a means of support. 

Teaching Buddy Network

Would you benefit from talking to a trusted colleague through your plans for supporting online learning next year? We can pair you up with an experienced member of staff for a confidential conversation. If you would like to request a buddy, please fill in this form or email dlte@napier.ac.uk.


Daily Online Teaching & Digital Tools Webinars


The Digital Support Partnership​ webinar series offers support for colleagues who are preparing to support and teach students online in trimester one. These are open to all colleagues involved in running online support, training or learning for students. Keep up to date with future webinars by joining the Developing your Teaching and Support for Learning Online Moodle Community​. 


​​Recording of open webinar from Supporting the Blended and Online Student Experience module

View Panopto recording

SBOSE Open Webinar Week 10_18March2020.pptxView PowerPoint Slides​​


Help! How do I teach online? Moodle Community Site

A community site for staff to discuss and share online teaching practices and tools. DLTE will also share webinar recordings and links to useful resources here. Please use self-enrol.


Developing your Teaching and Support for Learning Online Moodle Community Site​


As part of the University’s response to the pandemic, staff have been asked to ensure that module Moodle sites continue to provide all essential learning and teaching materials and to start to plan for the delivery of final module content online, where possible. Additionally, a decision has been taken to conduct all assessment for the forthcoming trimester two examinations online.

This page is intended to provide guidance relating to your teaching and assessment practice. It is also advisable to consider how you would work off-campus. For further information including access to University systems online, see IS Working from Home. You may also want to consider how you will continue to work and collaborate with colleagues, see Building your network online.


What does this mean for teaching?

As of Tuesday 17th March, all face-to-face teaching has been suspended. From Monday 23rd March, staff are being asked to deliver the remainder of their modules online, where this is possible (see What about teaching that cannot be transferred online, such as practicals or labs?). There is no correct way to approach teaching online and most of the decisions will be based on the subject and your existing expertise. It is important to consider what you can realistically achieve, given your experience, skills, support and personal circumstances. Of the remaining topics you were planning to deliver face-to-face, which are the most essential? And how might you ask the students to engage with the key concepts when they are at a distance?

See Preparing to teach online: Alternative formats for face-to-face teaching and Starting to teach online: What to do first if you cannot teach face-to-face for further support.


What does this mean for assessment? 

Given the decision to move our centrally timetabled examination diet online, DLTE is working closely with Schools, the School Support Service and Student Support Services to develop the operational details around an alternative online approach, which continues to ensure the safeguarding of academic standards, while causing minimal additional disruption and stress to staff or to students. In addition, other approved assessments may be challenging to complete should access to the campus become restricted, and alternative arrangements will need to be considered. 

See What are our plans to replace timetabled unseen examinations? and What are our plans to replace other forms of assessment which require a face-to-face presence?​



eSubmission guidance

Moodle Assignment

Turnitin Assignment


Who needs to approve changes to my module delivery or assessment? 

This is an exceptional situation, and any changes to module delivery and assessment for trimester two are temporary, and do not constitute a formal change to your module. Please do not make changes via the online Module Descriptor task for these temporary arrangements.  Deans of School (typically via their School Heads of Learning & Teaching) will be responsible for coordinating all required changes – and producing a single summary spreadsheet per school to be considered and approved by the University LTA and Quality Emergency Approvals Group, convened by the Vice-Principal (Learning & Teaching). A record of all changes will be retained by this group in accordance with the procedure agreed by Academic Board (see Academic Board Paper AB(19/20)038). Confirmation of approvals approval will be communicated back via Deans/School Heads of Learning & Teaching). Where assessment approaches need to be changed, you must consider the impact this has on the assessment criteria. While it is important that all changes to module delivery and assessment should be clearly communicated to your students, you are requested not to communicate about changes to assessment, until these have been approved by the Emergency Approvals Group. 


Preparing to teach online: alternative formats for face-to-face teaching


***UPDATED: View Edinburgh Napier's 12 Principles for Preparing for Online Learning and Teaching***


Lectures, tutorials and supervisions

Take a look at the learning outcomes for your module and the topics you would cover in the lectures. It may be possible that you can streamline the content and give the students active learning tasks. In an online format, you could provide a combination of the following instead of a lecture:

  • Short pre-recorded video
  • Course notes (PowerPoint with speaker notes)
  • Live webinars​ (A webinar can also be used for supervisions and informal 1-2-1 conversations)
  • Directed discussion, for example, ask students to discuss a question in a Moodle forum
  • Directed reading
  • Links to other sources of content, for example, YouTube, professional blogs, online simulations
  • Task students with creating, sourcing and sharing content in Moodle, for example, online scavenger hunts, photos, videos etc.



Panopto Lecture Recording (tip: always use Panopto for video content, not Moodle)


Uploading Course Notes and Recordings to Moodle​


PowerPoint’s ‘Record Slideshow’ Tool


Moodle Discussion Forums


Padlet Post-it Boards


Using Webex for remote teaching (by Brian Davison from the School of Computing)


Pre-recorded video


An hour-long lecture delivered face-to-face is usually not best replaced with an hour-long video. Consider making short (10 minute) videos which cover the most important points. An online video could be:


  • A voice-over of a PowerPoint presentation
  • A voice-over of your screen, for example, demonstrating use of software
  • Speaking directly to camera (this is particularly effective for maintaining an informal presence online)
    ​   using a video, such as one recorded on a smartphone
  • Link to videos from other sources, for example, YouTube
  • An audio recording of you speaking



   Panopto Lecture Recording

   An audio or video file uploaded to the Panopto platform (not directly to Moodle)

   PowerPoint’s ‘Record Slideshow’ tool


Live webinars

Using web conferencing, you can run a live webinar where you can:

  • speak directly to students and have them speak too
  • display slides or your screen
  • use text chat for questions comments
  • record the session as a video for sharing on Moodle
  • students can join a webinar via a mobile device.

Live webinars involve multitasking and are best run with more than one facilitator. Ask a colleague to monitor and respond to the text chat, or take turns to speak so each get time to take a breath.


Webex including creating and scheduling a Webex meeting in a Moodle module


What about teaching that cannot be transferred online, such as practicals or labs?

Specialist teaching involving equipment used by students on-campus may have to be deferred, though the Heads of Learning & Teaching within the Schools impacted by this are continuing to explore alternatives through their professional networks. Some alternatives are possible, for example pre-recorded videos can be used e.g. for students' music performance, or for demonstrations.  

Students can submit videos directly to the Moodle Assignment tool. Students can also access Panopto for recording videos or presentations for assessment.


Starting to teach online: What to do first if you cannot teach face-to-face


1. Contact students to reassure them. They may be experiencing anxiety about the consequences for their study, and the situation for them and their families more generally.


2. Maintain regular communication and acknowledge that this is an unprecedented situation for everyone. Students respond well when there is an online 'personality' and visible teaching presence.


Moodle announcements, which also sends an email to their student account

Moodle messaging (access through Participants)

Audio recording (e.g. from a smartphone) uploaded as a file to Moodle


3. Create an online space for students to communicate with you and each other. They may have questions or have heard rumours. If you provide a channel, you can moderate questions and answers. Encourage your students to make the most of the space. A first question to ask is what off-campus access do they have to computers, devices and internet.


Moodle Discussion Forums

Padlet Post-it Boards​


4. Consider any learning profiles and accessibility. Some teaching formats may disadvantage some students. Provide descriptions in text format and use the in-built accessibility checker in Word and PowerPoint files. Video formats can be problematic without subtitles for a variety of students and it is best to ask students to contact you privately in advance if a recorded or live video will cause any difficulties. Some students may have limited access to the internet, so smaller files are best, for example, avoid PowerPoint slides with lots of images. See Accessibility from the Wellbeing and Inclusion team for further information.


5. Give clear instructions and set expectations. For example, "This week work through the following...", "Take notes while watching this video".


6. Give clear titles to items in Moodle so that students know what things are and the order to engage with them.


7. Maintain an online presence. Being a distance learner can be isolating, regular updates and friendly messages can help.


What are our plans to replace timetabled unseen examinations?

a) Online examinations are the default position where examinations are required according to the module descriptor

For all Trimester 2 modules where a centrally timetabled examination is the approved assessment method, the default arrangement is to hold online examinations using the exam papers that have already been set, external moderated and approved as the foundation. The intention is for these to be released on Moodle in accordance with the approved exam timetable. In recognition that students may be faced with technical challenges; be in different time zones; and are facing complex lives as a result of covid-19 restriction, it has been agreed that the exams should be treated as open book exams. 

It may be that your existing examination paper requires some revisions to ensure it is suitable and valid for this form of assessment and further guidance will follow.

It is recognised that not all students will have the necessary equipment or access to the internet to enable them to undertake this alternative assessment approach, and no student will be disadvantaged as a result of this.


b) Exceptions to online examinations - where an examination is required according to the module descriptor and the above default cannot be employed

Where examinations are a requirement of the approved module descriptor and the above default cannot be adopted then a justification must be made to introduce an alternative form of assessment. Note that this approach is only to be used for exceptional circumstances where the time-constrained Moodle exam cannot be employed, for example, because of the nature of the exam paper; or because this approach is not compliant with PSRB requirements. This information has been requested from Schools. 


What are our plans to replace other forms of assessment which require a face-to-face presence?

Where other types of examination or assessment are required according to the approved module descriptor and these cannot be conducted in person, the following can be considered as alternatives. Deans of School (or School Heads of Learning & Teaching) are currently coordinating assessment change requests [see Who needs to approve changes to my assessment?]. The following advice has been adapted from a guidance note produced by Profs Sally Brown and Kay Sambell.


Table above adapted from guidelines produced by Sally Brown and Kay Sambell (accessed 15 March 2020, via https://sally-brown.net/)


With hard work, imagination and co-operation by students, it can be the case that alternatives are established in a short space of time which can certainly equal and may even be improvements on the current methodology. However, it is crucially important that decisions are based on sound pedagogic considerations and that they match the scale and level of the learning outcomes within your module descriptors. It is also important to remember that both staff and students may be working outside their comfort zones, and that support be provided for those struggling with new approaches.

Further resources:

50 tips for replacements for time-constrained, invigilated on-site exams (by Sally Brown and Kay Sambell)

QAA COVID-19 Thematic Guidance: Practice and Lab-based Assessment

The Edinburgh Napier University Assessment Handbook has helpful advice on the pros and cons of various assessment formats, which might help you consider the advantages and disadvantages of any adjustments you’re considering. See particularly pp31-51

The DLTE Quick Guide ‘Alternatives to traditional exams’ has some useful ideas


Manchester Metropolitan University Advice Leaflet: Take Home Exam 


London School of Economics (LSE) Toolkit Advice: Take-Home Assessment


Manish Malik (University of Portsmouth, School of Engineering) has recently disseminated a document to the SEDA Response to Coronavirus collection, based on a review of research papers about designing Open Book Exams to be taken at home. The document is editable, and the author welcomes further suggestions or changes.


Building your network online

Be mindful of your own wellbeing. This will be a stressful time for many, professionally and personally. There are limitations on what can be achieved in a short space of time. Keep in touch with colleagues and schedule Webex or Skype for Business chats. Checking in with each other at set times of the day can help with isolation, planning and sharing practice. You may be able to pool resources by guest teaching on each others’ modules, repurposing materials across modules, or share open education resources.

Tools (for internal networking and collaboration):

Outlook email (via Office 365, desktop version also available)

Skype for Business (staff only)


Workplace (by Facebook)

OneDrive document sharing (via Office 365)

SharePoint for document collaboration (via Office 365)

Tools (for external networking):

Follow these hashtags on Twitter:







Emergency Regulations Policy (COVID-19) - to provide guidance on the application of the academic regulations following COVID-19 disruption and mitigation​


QAA's Technology-enhanced Learning Resources Hub


Association for Learning Technology (ALT) Blog Post dated 14 March 2020
"When the VLE becomes your campus: some thoughts on engaging learners online"
including link to recorded webinar "Online learning beyond the technology: Reconceptualising online engagement


Academic Skills: Interactive Skills Guides

The Academic Skills Team has produced some new, interactive resources to help students develop the skills required to be successful in their studies. There are additional resources for students to help with general study skills and preparing for assessments.


QAA's COVID-19 Support and Guidance


A suite of webinar events offered by QAA to support the above guidance (registration required)​


National Forum for the Enhancement of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education, "10 Points to Consider in Choosing Alternative Assessment Methods for the Online Environment," in teachingandlearning.ie, Published March 12, 2020, Last Accessed March 13, 2020, https://www.teachingandlearning.ie/resource/10-points-to-consider-in-choosing-alterative-assessment-methods-for-the-online-environment/


​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​Doug Clow, What to do if you suddenly find yourself teaching at a distance, Wonkhe (12/03/20)


JISC: Ensuring continuity of learning during enforced absence


A crowd-sourced document: Teaching Online with Care​



For further guidance on supporting your students online, please contact dlte@napier.ac.uk


If your query relates to any technical difficulty or concern, please contact ISServiceDesk@napier.ac.uk

If you have any other concerns regarding COVID-19, please contact coronavirusqueries@napier.ac.uk