Teaching & Learning


Tips from a Senior Administrator for supporting the delivery of remote teaching

Anna Foakes AFHEA, UCL Queen Square Institute of Neurology, draws on 7 years’ experience in managing distance learning programmes to share her tips for administrative success.


24 June 2020

The UCL Queen Square Institute of Neurology, Distance Learning Clinical Neurology MSc programme was the first of its kind in the world. It was set up nine years ago, initially with a Diploma route, before adding MSc and PG Certificate options from 2016 onwards. 

Remote administrative success 

Anna, Senior Teaching and Learning Administrator, shares her experience and tips for Teaching Administrators now managing online delivery and tasked with providing effective remote support. 

Distant student cohort 

Our student numbers have expanded; we typically have between 80 to 95 students registered on the programme.

All of the programme ‘students’ are practising medical doctors based worldwide.

They come from a variety of backgrounds, including:

  • general medicine
  • acute medicine
  • neuro surgery
  • psychiatry
  • GPs 
  • neurology. 

The course offers a flexible approach, allowing busy doctors to adjust their pace on the course, as well as giving the flexibility that online learning provides.

Flexible multimedia teaching and support 

The course uses over 400 e-lectures covering a wide range of topics in neurology, utilising multimedia in a modular structure on Moodle. 

Interaction with course tutors is available by Microsoft Teams, Skype and Moodle for support and assessment, as well as with monthly ‘real case’ assessed challenges. 

Students also have the opportunity to join Journal Clubs, with worldwide teaching assistants and student forums, along with knowledge cafes based around time zones. 

Anna’s tips for setting up and running online programmes

Student engagement

Think about the engagement right from the offset. Ask yourself:

  • What would be helpful for the student to be part of the programme?
  • What would you like to know if you were a student? 

Effective communication

Communication is so valuable but keep it simple and clear. 

Be mindful 

Many of our students are from overseas, so be mindful of the language you use and of different cultures.

They may also be in different time zones, access student time data from 2019-2020 to give you an idea of geographic spread. 

Check out Student Support and Wellbeing's International Student Support information. 

What platform is appropriate?

Think about what platforms to use with students, what would hold their interest? i.e. blogs, forum posts, monthly activities, videos from tutors. 

Read this case study on how to provide a virtual social space for your students. 

Consider your own professional development

  • Do you have the right technology to deliver/ administrator the teaching?
  • Do you need to learn any new systems to administrator online programmes, before you get the students involved?

Access support at UCL: 

Set clear boundaries 

Be clear about your boundaries and realistic with your time. Consider and outline: 

  • When you are available? 
  • What can you provide?
  • What are the timescales for you to deal with the query?

Create templates for student queries 

It sounds simple, but you may receive the same queries and questions regularly.

Consider creating a bank of templates and model answers to share with your team for simple queries or tasks. 

The whole team has a role to play

Teaching assistants can support the learning through interesting discussion topics on forums and other platforms - you don't have to do it all. 

New event: supporting students during times of change and uncertainty 

Student Support and Wellbeing are hosting a series of workshops aimed at colleagues who interact with students, between June - September. 

The session will equip you with skills to provide effective support and to enable excellence remotely.

The session will cover topics such as:

  • having supportive conversations using a coaching approach
  • maintaining focus and productivity during times of uncertainty
  • appropriate signposting, referrals and escalations
  • inclusive learning and support practices
  • looking after oneself when supporting others

Upcoming events:

The sessions are 90 minutes long and will be limited to a maximum of 15 attendees to allow time for participation. All listings can be found here, filter by, 'supporting students' wellbeing.'