Delivering on-campus and online sessions simultaneously


There are a number of models to deliver live seminars on campus which are also available online to participants simultaneously:

Model 1

The simplest is for the lecturer to start a webinar while in the classroom which students who are not on campus can join remotely as it is streamed in real-time.  The lecturer then talks into a microphone, sharing any slides on the webinar as needed. Students in the room and online would hear the same thing.

For discussion or collaborative activities, breakout rooms which the students are divided into based on their current location can be used: students who are online are grouped together in breakout rooms, and students who are on-campus work together in groups.  Students would discuss the same materials in their groups, with the lecturer being able to move between breakout rooms online similar to circulating around the on-campus groups.  Groups could highlight key points from their discussion or create something to be shared back with the whole class by a nominated individual who could do so in the webinar room for online participants and viewed on the screen in the physical classroom for on-campus students.

See our video about making this hybrid approach work.

Model 2

An alternative approach involves the above webinar/streaming of the session but with mixing face-to-face and online participants in breakout groups.  In this case all of the students in the room need to also join the webinar and need technology which allows them to engage with their group members who are online.

This might involve having access to a phone, laptop or tablet where they could speak to the others who are online.  Given social distancing that may be in place, students may need their own personal piece of technology in order to be able to contribute to discussions, instead of being able to share, which might make this challenging from a logistics point of view, particularly if it was university equipment that needed cleaning between uses.

Technically an approach involving on-campus whole group discussions could be possible without everyone having their own device, but this would require the room to be fitted with boundary microphone arrays which covered all parts of the room, a complex and expensive approach which is not in place in any of our rooms at this moment.  Given the virus, it would not be possible to have shared microphones passed around a room either.

In both of these approached recording of breakout rooms is not feasible due to limitations on the technologies and issues around permissions and data privacy.

Available technologies:


The university’s three supported webinar tools: Blackboard Collaborate, Zoom and WebEx, are all able to facilitate live streaming from a physical room into the online room, along with interaction in the online room.

The new lecture capture software, Panopto, will be available in August which has some live streaming capability but not breakout rooms, so it would not be as useful in most seminar situations.


To live stream would require at least one microphone in each of the rooms which is linked to the PC, to capture the lecturer talking and giving instructions.  The lecture capture project has purchased boundary microphones which are being installed into pool teaching rooms as they reopen.  A webcam could also be beneficial for bridging the gap and capturing the lecturer on screen but is not essential for making the approach work. These are being installed where possible in rooms as well, though not all rooms may have them,

Although the sound systems in teaching rooms or a laptop could be used by the lecturer to listen to break out room discussions they may benefit from headphones to avoid that group’s conversation being loudly broadcast to all groups.  These are not currently available in rooms and it would be better given COVID-19 safety considerations if the lecturer brought their own headset with them to avoid contamination.

As noted for approach 2 students would need to each have a piece of technology (phone, laptop, tablet) compatible with university systems to be able to use this model, ideally with their own headsets with microphones.


Approach 1 will deliver on-campus and online sessions simultaneously and is a simpler in terms of the technology needed but would mean only on-campus and online students could not mix in breakout groups.  This could be linked to any rotation of group attendance on-campus if there are consistent allocated groups of students.

Further support is available from the Digital Learning Team