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Supporting Education at Cambridge

Libraries supporting online learning

Student Experience

Libraries provide support for Teaching and Learning and this implies that the information contained in this model is focused primarily on taught courses including Master's courses. However, many of the specific case studies can be applied to the PhD students too. 


  • Community: shaping an online community is important although peer-to-peer engagement is happening throughout the summer. Building relationship with students is important but consider what 'their' important is, and not ours. A quick response to an email helping to allay concerns and fears is just as important. Give students a reason to engage with you. 
  • Library Space - new students won't understand space in the same way as current students. Consider what messages go to the different groups.
  • Technology: understanding student restrictions, and making sure that they do not feel they have to be 'online' in the way you are.
  • Wellbeing: supporting students
  • Structure: structuring time will be important - how can you help? Screen a video online at a particular time? Set up 'shut up and write sessions' - no need for you to engage hugely but setting up times for students to 'do a thing'.
  • Moodle - using the VLE for seamless integration

More information available below

Principles for teaching online and pedagogy

Ideas to consider - in addition look at the CUP webinars, or the CCTL Guides.

Contact for queries about getting started with teaching

Case Studies available

  • Students need to know why they are doing something - what specifically will it help them do, what might they be learning to do, what will it help them with in their academic study or their development of 'community'. For example does it directly connect with (and therefore impact) student assessment?
  • Does the activity need to be synchronous or asynchronous? This infographic explains how synchronous and asynchronous models benefit learning.  If the activity is asynchronous how will you maintain your active presence?
  • Delivering content in 'bite-sized' chunks may be more appropriate
  • What we do in our teaching needs to be authentic with relevant and potentially challenging task
  • Liaison with academics for buy-in eg showing them an IL framework for your subject for examples
  • Different ways of using online rooms for distance learning (courtesy of OU)
  • Consider some top tips for accessibility (OU COVID19 online training session)

For many more links for advice for remote teaching and training, the CCTL site has plenty of advice for academics which will be relevant, including links to the webinars run by CUP during May. We also have documentation produced by Bea Gini and colleagues before Easter Term which will be useful to browse.

Background reading

There are a LOT of references that could be included here so this list is just a taster of a few items that you might find useful when considering pros and cons of moving online for libraries supporting teaching and learning:

Weightman, A. et al. (2017)  A systematic review of information literacy programs in higher education: Effects of face-to-face, online, and blended formats on student skills and views. Evidence Based Library and Information Practice 12(3), pp. 20-55. doi: (With thanks to Cardiff University's site)

A follow-on to the above article which continues to explore the online vs face-to-face perspective available from Delyth Morris:

Morris, Delyth. (2020) A review of information literacy programmes in higher education. Journal of Information Literacy, [S.l.], v.14, n.1, p.19-40. Available at: <>

McAulay, K. (2020) Library support to students on blended-learning courses: some thoughts on best practice. SCONUL Focus, Issue 71, February 2020. Available at:

JISC (2020) Planning Inductions for Autumn 2020.

Berry, Sharla (2019) Teaching to Connect: Community-Building Strategies for the Virtual Classroom Online Learning, v23 n1 p164-183 Mar 2019

Farrell, Orna and James Brunton (2020) A balancing act: a window into online student engagement experiences, International Journal of Educational Technology in Higher Education volume 17, Article number: 25

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