Guidance for teaching sensitive subjects online

Background and overview

Staff have requested further advice on teaching sensitive subjects in the online and blended learning environment and regarding the recording of teaching activities. Below are three sections highlighting the guidance available.

  • The first section provides links to the relevant institutional policy and guidance documents that will help individual academics consider how to approach teaching sensitive subjects in the online or blended environment.
  • The second section provides some suggested phrases that could be used with students to outline expectations when teaching sensitive subjects.
  • The third section provides a link to some further guidance that sets out a framework of considerations when preparing to teach sensitive topics.

Staff may find it helpful to use this framework as a reflective checklist. Teaching staff are experts in their subject area and are best placed to make judgements about how to proceed in teaching the sensitive subjects that emerge as part of their taught content.

Relevant policies/guidance

Lecture recording

View the policy

Staff should make sure that access to all learning material is equitable between students who are on campus and those who are studying at a distance. Noting point 4.1 in the Lecture recording policy above, this may be through capture and provision of recordings of live teaching sessions or presentation of separate information or resources:

‘Where it is appropriate to the learning experience, the University expects all staff to audio record live lectures in front of a student audience, and live webinars. There may be instances where recording a lecture or webinar is inappropriate, for example due to ethical issues, the use of sensitive material, or because interactive elements are embedded within those lectures. The decision not to record a lecture or webinar should be made by the member of staff in conjunction with the Programme Director(s). The reasons why a lecture or webinar is not recorded should be made clear to the students’.

Where sharing of recorded teaching sessions is judged not to be appropriate, other arrangements including publication of a summary or scheduling additional live webinars can be provided.

Aston student code of conduct

View the code

Guidance on Learning and teaching activities area of Blackboard:

View the guidance

Suggested wordings that can be used

Delete/adopt as appropriate

  • Please note that online teaching activities may be recorded and published for reviewing.
  • When recordings are being made this will be clearly highlighted for students. Care will be taken to avoid capturing information where individual students may be identified where possible.
  • Occasions where student participation such as through delivery of group presentations are recorded will be clearly identified for students.
  • Students are not permitted to record, republish or share recordings of teaching activities.
  • Please note that when sensitive topics are explored in teaching activities this will be clearly identified for students in advance and expectations clearly explained.

Further advice and a framework for effective practice

Staff may find guidance offered at the following link useful as a reflective ‘checklist’ for preparing to deliver sessions on or including sensitive topics.