October 22, 2020, by Emma Whitt

October PLATE meeting

Wow, what a year 2020 has been. Staff in Psychology are working really hard to make sure students have the opportunity to engage with their course this term. We are taking a blended approach – using face to face with small groups where possible and setting materials and activities online.

In our second PLATE meeting of the academic year, a few of us came together to share our experiences with the world of teaching online, which is new to most of us.


Teams breakout rooms

We heard from Jonathan Stirk about using break out rooms in Teams. Generally, Jonathan’s experience was very positive and the rooms were reasonably straightforward to set up. One point to note was that currently it only works for meetings set up in the calendar and not channel meetings. We hope Microsoft is working on applying this to channel meetings!


Gather town

We are were impressed with the demo of gather.town by Mark Haselgrove. In gather town, you can create virtual places and interact with avatars and hear and see people’s videos. Gather town spaces reflect a real-world situation where you can’t always hear and see people in the same room unless you are talking in a small group of people. There are also whiteboards for collaboration (or Pictionary!). We’re going to try out a virtual version of our community space, the Social Space. Watch this space.

Class notebook (OneNote)

Lucy Cragg, one of our resident class notebook experts, showed an example of using class notebook for seminars. Class notebook enables a teacher to set up pages and push them to students so students can complete work. It’s a great idea for tutoring and seminars as everything is kept in one place and students and staff can work on pages together.


Combining in-person teaching with teaching on Teams

Some staff have been running seminars in a dual-mode, with some students in the room and some online on Teams. Our top tips for this are to have students work together in the mode in which they are attending – so students in the room work together and students who are online work together. The staff member can then act as a link between the students.


The current year is not easy for anyone but we are enjoying the opportunities to discover new aspects of teaching and learning together with our students. Big thanks to our colleagues in Psychology and in Learning Technologies for all the support.


Any top tips for online teaching? Let me know @emmajwhitt on Twitter


Written by Dr Emma Whitt (Assistant Professor, School of Psychology)

Posted in Uncategorized