BSS Online Learning and Teaching

Collecting Resources, Inspiration, and Experiences for managing a short-term shift to e-learning at the Faculty of Behavioural and Social Sciences

> What is this page all about?

As a result of the Corona virus epidemic, all universities in The Netherlands and many other countries around the world have decided to temporarily cancel all in-person education. For now, the University of Groningen has decreed that this will last until April 10th (which is the beginning of the final block of this academic year), but it’s likely that this will go on for longer. Everyone at the Faculty of Behavioural and Social Sciences is making a shift to online learning, converting courses so they may continue with minimal disruption.

This page collects resources and experiences from colleagues at the faculty so we may support each other’s efforts and facilitate an efficient transition. Many of us are facing very similar challenges and it helps to share experiences and solutions. The idea of this page is that it is constantly evolving to allow a more structural change in online learning, well beyond the effects of COVID-19.

> How to use this page

This page is under continuous development, both by the people running this page but, more importantly, by you, the user.

  • Use the information and resources organised and summarised here.
  • Comment with your own experiences using these resources so others may benefit.
  • Tell us what your wishes and questions are, so we and others may answer them and make this resource richer.

Under each topic, there is a Contribute box, which you may use to contribute your experiences and questions. We will incorporate these, continuously. Remember that this is a communal resource that can be shaped by your needs! You can also use the Comments Section at the bottom of this page, if you prefer to share your experiences so far. If you have tips and tricks using the tools or resources, we and your colleagues would love to hear them!


Note: click on the + icon to open each box

Netiquette and General Advice

It is important to be mindful of the circumstances everyone is in presently. Most of your colleagues, teachers, and students will be working from their homes, in less than ideal conditions. Access to the internet may be limited (so, video and audio quality will often be imperfect), family life will sometimes interfere with everyone's work (children and other family members may be present), and there is a lot of understandable anxiety that comes with the uncertainty of the situation.
The response from everyone (students, teachers, administrators) has been excellent so far and we should continue working with respect for everyone's needs.

Things to Remember:
  • Don't assume that everyone will be easily available online at all times. Confirm their availability.
  • Don't assume that everyone has easy access to all types of technology needed for your course. Many of our students may be following online courses on their phones or tablets.
In most circumstances, whether it is recording audio/video, live-streaming a lecture, or holding an online meeting, there are some easy steps to follow to make interaction easier and more effective.

Things to remember:
  • Make sure your internet/wifi connection is strong where you are sitting.
  • Use a microphone and headphones, or combination headset if you can.
  • During group calls, it is helpful to mute your microphone when you are listening, otherwise small sounds from your side may capture the focus from the speaker.
  • In small group meetings, confirm that everyone can see/hear clearly, before beginning with your meeting and ask everyone to use the chat function of whatever platform you are using, if audiovisual communication becomes difficult.
  • Confirm that everyone can still participate easily, on a regular basis.
Share your experiences, advice, tips, or questions on these topics here (Name and email address are optional)

Small Group Meetings

Blackboard Collaborate can facilitate small-group teaching and has the possibility for breakout group discussion. This page provides good information on how to set this up: Everyone working and studying at the Faculty of BSS has a gmail account and can make use of the associated collaborative tools. The two most common tools for having small-group meetings are Google Hangout and Google Meet. In brief:

Google Hangouts

If you go to the gmail page, on the bottom left corner of your screen, you can see the Hangouts Chat button: Clicking on it gives you the option to create a new group chat and search for participants to add to your group. In the group chat, you can start a video conference, clicking on the video icon:

Google Meet

With Google Meet ( you can create or join a meeting. Clicking on "Join or start a meeting" gives you the option to either host a meeting (it's a good idea to give it a short but clear name; everyone will likely be joining many of these for the coming few weeks) or join a meeting someone else has created (by entering the meeting code they shared with you). Once you set up a new meeting and have given access to your microphone and camera, click on the Join button. You can share now the url with all other participants so they can join your meeting (tip: they also have to click the Join button, to participate).

Other useful tools


Zoom ( is a video conferencing and meeting tool. The free version allows you to have up to 100 participants in a meeting, but has a 40min limit.


Skype is another tool you can use for hosting small-group meetings. It has the benefit of being available across many platforms but has a limit of 50 participants. It is also possible that not all your participants will have a Skype account. You can download Skype at
Watch a Webinar and Q&A (~40min long) on facilitating small group discussions here:

Sometimes it will be necessary to divide the class into smaller breakout groups for discussion. You can either stop the group video and instruct students to set up their own breakout video meetings, or have students use the chat function in Hangouts to discuss with one another, while the video meeting continues. Make sure you set clear instructions on what they should focus on and when they should return to the general discussion.
Share your experiences, advice, tips, or questions on these topics here (Name and email address are optional)


Helpful e-Learning Links

Share your experiences, advice, tips, or questions on these topics here (Name and email address are optional)

Online Lecture Courses

All courses set up on Nestor already have the possibility for online teaching through Blackboard Collaborate. Read the University's guide on Collaborate here: and and here: You can also follow a webinar (live or recorded) here:
Share your experiences, advice, tips, or questions on these topics here (Name and email address are optional)


> Upcoming Topics (under development):

  • Online Interactive Tools
  • Mental Health
  • Online tools for collaboration
  • Online didactics – How does shifting to online platform affect learning objectives
  • Online exams
  • Advice for students

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