Virtual Classroom: online active learning sessions - Guidance for Staff

Updated on 19 October 2021

This policy explains when virtual classroom sessions should be recorded and what steps you need to take

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Created in September 2021, to be reviewed annually. It has been reviewed by both the University legal team and the information governance team.


The term virtual classroom is defined as any session for active learning where at least some if not all of the students are online, such as a seminar, workshop or tutorial. These sessions normally require multiway communication between the lecturers/facilitators and the students.

It does not refer to lecture formats which are characterised by the lecturer/facilitator providing information to students, communication that is one-way


Virtual classroom sessions will not normally be recorded. Students have indicated that they feel more comfortable participating when the session is not being recorded. It is also often difficult to record these sessions as they make use of techniques such as ‘break-out’ rooms, where the session splits into several simultaneous sessions.

For reasons of information governance, we cannot record students without their permission.

If a student does need to have a session recorded, they should speak to you in advance of the session. You will explain if this is possible or not (it will depend on the nature of the session, for example break out rooms cannot currently be recorded). If it is possible, you should seek the permission of all participants to record the session and only do so if this is received.

We recommend taking an anonymous poll at start of the lesson, where recording has been requested. If any student says no then the session cannot be recorded.

If you are running more than one session you could have one group that is recorded and one that is not, then move students as appropriate between the groups.

Alternatively, if the session is a mix of the lecturer/facilitator providing information to students, communication that is one-way and more active learning, the part that is one-way communication may be recorded and then the recording stopped prior to the active learning commencing.

We want classes to run well for all students and appropriate adjustments should be made for those with a disability, who have registered with disability services.

Web cameras

The recommendation is that web cameras should be on for both staff and students in the virtual classroom. This aids communication as all can see non-verbal cues (i.e. nodding along or confused looks). It helps to build relationships. Research indicates this is helpful for learning and it is better for wellbeing as it fends off loneliness and isolation. It can also be helpful for anyone who uses lip-reading.

It is also important to make sure you have a profile picture in both My Dundee and Teams, so that students recognise you.

Responsibilities of staff and students within the virtual classroom

  • Arrive at the virtual classroom ready to actively participate in learning.
  • Behave in a professional manner – using only language appropriate to the University setting, that includes what is spoken and what is written in the chat areas or similar.
  • Respect all members of the virtual classroom, there should be no offensive behaviours nor personal comments.
  • Consider your own environment for accessing the virtual classroom. In particular, if the class involves any sensitive or confidential information (such as patient data) make sure you are in a place where you cannot be overheard and the video cannot be overseen. Space for this can be booked in the library.
  • If you wish to contribute identify yourself using the hand raising tool.
  • Identify yourself before speaking and encourage everyone else to do the same if possible.
  • Mute microphones when not talking to reduce background noise.
  • If using a mobile phone, avoid using the speaker phone – this can lead to echo and poor audio quality. You may find a wireless headset useful in this situation.
  • Keep language clear and simple for more accurate captions, for those who require them.

Additional disability requirements

  • Provide an outline of what is going to be discussed in the class/ provide complex terminology in advance
  • Remind students that captions are available and how to access them
  • Keep language clear and simple for more accurate captions
  • Check and amend captions to ensure accuracy of key content if possible – students who need accurate captions for all material can be supported by an external service arranged by Disability Services - this will be identified as an adjustment for individual students registered with Disability Services
  • Repeat questions asked by students before answering them to ensure that everyone has heard the question
  • Try not to rush to allow for additional processing time
  • Use the chat box to highlight key points and monitor the chat box for live feedback
  • Allow students not to use the camera if this exacerbates their underlying anxiety – this will be identified as an adjustment for individual students registered with Disability Services
  • Provide rest breaks during the class if possible to support those who experience fatigue or concentration issues
  • Provide a summary after the class to capture the main points discussed
  • Share any resources used during the class
  • Ask for feedback after the class, anonymously if possible, so students feel confident to be honest about any challenges they experienced

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