Teaching groups

When teaching groups online, whether small or large, it is useful to consider in advance the approaches you will take and how you will co-ordinate sessions with your students
  • What size is the cohort?
  • What tool will I use to share information?
  • How can I use the functions of that tool to communicate clearly, quickly and easily?
  • How will I run interactive, discursive or collaborative activities with larger group sizes?
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Pre-planning when running group sessions is important to ensure a smooth transition between activities and to help keep students engaged through a structured approach to online seminars and lectures. Below are some ideas relating to group teaching that can help you when planning out your sessions.


If you haven’t already, we recommend visiting the : setting up your site section of the website. This section walks through ideas for communication and has some resources which look at effective house keeping when running a session. These ideas can be utilised for both small or large group teaching elements.

Asynchronous or Synchronous

When teaching groups online, whether small or large, it is useful to consider in advance the approaches you will take and how you will co-ordinate sessions with your students. Defining the activities and deciding the timeframe of when and how students will access activities can help you plan group sessions effectively.  I.e. pre/post-work can usually be done asynchronously and can be used to directly feed into the main synchronous session (click here to access the section on pre/post-work).

By also pre-defining when and where activities will take place will enable you to share this information with your students so they can prepare for each activity and any proposed outcomes of those activities. I.e. Even though the activity is asynchronous they may need to create elements to be shared during the synchronous session.

Related resources & activities

Link | Teaching Remotely Essentials | Link to external site
This useful resource includes information on how to utilise technology for online teaching (Collaborate Ultra and MS teams) and has a useful diagram to help you decide which software to use and when to use it for asynchronous and synchronous activities.

Active learning

Active learning, where students work individually or in groups to tackle problems, create resources and share ideas, can work just as effectively online. It can also empower students to be more involved and enhance their learning experience.

This approach can be very useful for teaching groups online but does require some pre-planning to identify activities that can support facilitated discussion in synchronous sessions. To make active learning effective you need to ensure every interaction is meaningful and purposeful. To ensure students are ‘present’ in the online session, webcams may be needed to facilitate learning and group interaction. However, some students may object for a variety of reasons. Below is a discussion on the pros and cons of getting students to use their webcams. What are your thoughts?


Related resources & activities

Digital Education Support Site | Interaction & Collaboration | Web (opens in a new window)

Digital Education Support Site | Student discussion | Web (opens in a new window)

These useful resources highlights some potential activity ideas that can be used with an active learning approach

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HyFlex learning, an approach that simultaneously combines face-to-face teaching with online participation can be extraordinarily difficult to deliver successfully for everyone, especially with large cohorts. Our recommendation would be to adopt separate online and face to face sessions to help ease facilitation.

However, there may be occasions where this cannot be avoided, especially if responding to changing circumstances where facilitating online participation enables continuity of access. Press the button below to link to a page on HyFlex learning and potential strategies you can use.

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Hyflex Learning