Skip to main content

Synchronous Online Teaching

NEW: A vision for education and skills at Newcastle University: Education for Life 2030+

Key points when planning synchronous online teaching

  • Many students value aspects of synchronous, face-to-face delivery – particularly the opportunities to ask questions and connect with their peers. However, many students also value aspects of non-synchronous delivery.   
  • The use of synchronous online teaching sessions and lectures need to be as part of an overall blended approach, and should not be the sole form of delivery.
  • Any synchronous online lecturing should not be a like-for-like replacement of a present-in-person lecture (e.g. this should not normally be for an hour).
  • It is important to manage the load of all synchronous online sessions by planning interactivity and changes of pace, as this form of learning and teaching can be more cognitively demanding for both lecturers and students (compared with present-in-person delivery, non-verbal cues are harder to read in synchronous online settings).

Practical considerations

There are important practical factors to consider for synchronous online sessions - many of which are particularly important if our education is to be accessible and inclusive for all of our students and colleagues:

  • Students need to have a suitable personal learning environment to work from to engage with online sessions.   
  • Synchronous online teaching demands that students and staff be available at various points in core teaching hours (8:30-18:30 UK time zone).
  • To participate in online sessions, students need to have suitable hardware (e.g. a PC, laptop or tablet computer) and reliable internet access.
  • Similarly, colleagues delivering need reliable internet and an appropriate environment from which to teach (they may have difficulties posed by shared offices on campus; family members at home; and/or be impacted by caring responsibilities).
A laptop with Teams meeting on

Etiquette: guidance for online learning events

The University has published guidance for educators and students detailing etiquette for online learning. 

There is also a Wayfinder guide for camera usage from a staff perspective.

The way I taught this module in the online synchronous sessions was to adopt the same human approach to how I would engage students in the classroom, through structured activities, humour, motivation, and relational practice.

Nick Howey (NUBS) on engaging students in synchronous sessions

Synchronous online teaching: additional guidance

Find out more