Follow these guidelines to help develop and support a digital culture in teaching and learning at Sussex.
About these principles
These principles set out the technologies and values to be adopted for the needs of students and staff at Sussex.
The use of technology for teaching, learning, and assessment not only enhances and innovates education, but also provides opportunity for crucial skills development for students and staff. Such technologies can be transformational in providing high quality teaching and learning, student experiences and fostering positive learning communities.
Learning at Sussex involves a mixture of:
- dedicated in-person teaching sessions, supported by technology
- specially designed and selected learning resources available through the virtual learning environment (Canvas)
- physical and digital learning resources from the Library
- Academic Skills training, in-person and online.
To make sure all of these learning opportunities are the best they can be, it’s important you’re aware of these digital learning principles.
Our essential digital platforms
All staff and students will use essential platforms provided by the University of Sussex for teaching and learning. This has been fed back from students as being very important to them.
It is important to make sure data compliance is met and that students have consistency across platforms and experiences. Students may choose to use third party platforms (such as WhatsApp or Discord) and, where they are used, they should not be used for critical information relating to teaching and learning available through supported channels.
Canvas is the core platform for communication to students around their teaching and is home for module content and assessments.
You should use Canvas announcements as the primary route for messages to students about their module (timetable, assessment etc).
You should provide materials to support students’ learning on Canvas, as well as assessment information within the provided templates.
You can enrol in Canvas Essentials training.
Panopto should be used as the video hosting platform for capturing lecture content, whether as a record of a teaching session or as a teaching resource for flipped learning.
View the policy on the recording of teaching activities and other uses of Panopto [PDF 175KB].
Zoom is the platform for delivery of online teaching sessions. Zoom can be used for teaching groups, and one-to-ones. Zoom has a built-in function to enable interactive learning and break-out sessions as well as recording with Panopto. In the case of sessions on Zoom, the availability of the recording through Panopto will be dependent on how the session was set up.
You can get more guidance about using Zoom for teaching.
Sussex Direct is where students can find all their assessment results, including stage results. These are formally published in the Module Results section in Sussex Direct. These are provisional until after the exam board has met and the stage result has been published. Students should always be directed to Sussex Direct for accurate marks record.
While Canvas displays grades, these may not reflect weightings and penalties.
We do not recommend the use of third-party platforms for the delivery of teaching and learning. If it’s essential, and the provision is not provided through the platforms above, contact a Learning Technologist so they can advise you on GDPR requirements, accessibility, sustainability, archiving, data security and more.
We want to support innovation in digital technology. At times you may want to use a new digital tool. You should contact Educational Enhancement to make sure we have considered aspects such as data protection, copyright and licensing before using it, and to get appropriate support.
An example of innovation is the use of Padlet as a collaboration tool, which can be used as a virtual wall for the exchange of ideas.
We want everyone who uses technology for teaching and learning at Sussex to be able to find, read and understand the content.
This means you should be able to:
- navigate most of the content using just a keyboard
- navigate most of the content using speech recognition software
- listen to most of the content using a screen reader
- zoom in by at least 200% without text spilling off your screen
- change colours, contrast levels and fonts using your web browser settings.
Follow our accessibility guidance when creating teaching content for students.
You should use our accessibility checker to make sure your materials are accessible.
Teaching materials should be available in advance of the session. This is accepted best practice for accessibility and pedagogic reasons.
Canvas templates are designed to accommodate this, with space for session material.
You must add captions to any lessons you record. This is the default setting on Panopto recordings at Sussex and they are added automatically. Read more about captions in Panopto.
Students should be able to report any inaccessible material or technologies to the relevant person (such as their tutor, module convenor or the Educational Enhancement team). Reporting forms are linked from Canvas and other platforms.
All digital activities should align to Inclusive Sussex by promoting equality, celebrating diversity and promoting opportunities for flexibility.
Digital technologies can be used to remove barriers in teaching, learning and assessment.
Take care to make sure that:
new technologies do not add in any incidental barriers or biases
we use terminology that fosters inclusive learning environments and enables new forms of collaboration
we avoid terminology that reinforces negative connotations, such as stereotypes or a lack of personalisation through pronouns.
Find out more about universal design for learning through Canvas.
It is important that you make clear statements to students about:
- how students will be contacted
- where activities of teaching and learning will be placed
- the tools and apps students will need to use
- how you can be contacted by students and when students can expect a reply.
Always use Canvas to place information about modules and programmes.
Students are told to check their Sussex email inbox regularly for messages. They are also told the University will send regular emails, particularly with essential updates and messages from senior staff, usually linking to information on the Student Hub. Students will also receive emails from staff within your School, such as your Head of School, Academic Advisor or Student Experience Officer, as well as other teams where relevant. Make sure you use students’ University email accounts for all communication.
Do not use social media for core University communication to students.
The culture of the online digital environment should reflect the same values we hold for when we are in-person.
Students should use good netiquette for online teaching and you should take the time to set acceptable ground rules.
In teaching, you can refer to our 10 postive online learning behaviours [PDF 96KB] as a concise way to promote positive suitable social media engagement.
Staff and students should seek to understand the positive benefits and any possible negative aspects of digital technology. This is often referred to as “digital wellbeing” – the impact of technologies and digital services on peoples mental, physical and emotional health.
Both staff and students must make sure they follow the Use of IT Regulations [PDF 326KB].
Staff should follow the University guidance on social media.
Training and support
You can get training and advice on planning and delivering teaching and assessments.
This service is run by the Educational Enhancement team.
More guidance for students
You can direct students to:
- Skills Hub, for their own study development and training
- the Student Hub, for advice and support.