General advice to maintain continuity of teaching and learning

The following guidance is provided to help minimise disruption to teaching and learning if working off-campus.

All of Aston’s Technology Enhanced Learning systems; Blackboard, Blackboard Collaborate, Turnitin and Panopto/Aston Replay are available off-campus from any internet connection and do NOT require any special access requirements.

If you are unable to teach on campus and need to deliver online the University advice is to:

  • Consider the student learning experience and aim to adopt the best possible approach for the circumstances.
  • Work with systems with which you are comfortable and familiar and that your students are familiar.
  • Remember that the key aim is to ensure that students are supported and have the opportunity to meet learning outcomes.
  • Simple approaches are often the most effective.

It is worthwhile undertaking a skills audit in your programme teams to ensure that support for using new online tools is available locally.

For lectures, the University advice is to:

For interactive sessions, the University advice is to Use Blackboard Collaborate to support virtual classrooms.

Collaborate has a number of features:

  • Voice chat
  • Webcam
  • Share PowerPoint and PDFs
  • Share applications (view only)
  • Polling
  • Breakout rooms for group work

Help and support guides for Collaborate Ultra

Which version of Collaborate should I use?

There are two versions of Collaborate available to use at Aston

  • If you have not used Collaborate before you should use Collaborate Ultra, the newest version. Whilst not as feature-rich it is far easier for first-time users and works more consistently across multiple browsers and devices. It also does not require any specific additional software to be used on a desktop/laptop computer.
  • More experienced users of Collaborate may be familiar with Collaborate Classic. Whilst we would encourage you to use the system you are most comfortable with we would also suggest that if you are attempting to use Collaborate with students that have never used either tool, our advice would be to use Ultra. You should also be aware that although Classic is still available to be used it is out of support and will be switched off permanently August 2020.


Requesting TEL Support

All support requests should be emailed to

There will be no telephone support available but follow up support will be coordinated on a case-by-case basis. Please do not send emails directly to The inbox for this address will automatically move all emails into the ticketing system which cannot be accessed off-campus.

When making a support request please always include as much information as possible, such as:

  • any related module code
  • the system you are having problems with
  • dates and times of any problems
  • screenshots where appropriate. When making screenshots if you can include as much of the screen as possible (including the url for web-based systems), it will often help us diagnose the problem.

It is possible that the team’s capacity may also be reduced and there may be increased waiting times. Academic staff are encouraged to consider the expertise within their programme teams and to seek the support of colleagues wherever possible.