Teaching & Learning


Three way to make the most of your Virtual Common Rooms

Virtual Common Rooms are a great tool to keep students connected. Find out how to make the most of your Virtual Common Rooms.

Virtual Common Rooms (VCRs) are intended to be student led spaces that work best when run in collaboration with and programmed by members of staff; they hope to reflect the environment of a ‘real’ common room allowing for connections and networking opportunities with peers.  

As we transition from remote learning back into face to face activities VCRs remain a great place for students to connect with other students.

Below are some top tips to help you make the most of your virtual common room and help them take root to become lively and well visited student spaces.

1. Give your VCR a clear purpose.

What do you want your VCR to achieve? Is it solely a space for students to casually interact? Or do you want to focus your VCR to become a space for update, events and interactions. Ask your students, Student Reps or Departmental Society to help identify what would be useful and then define its purpose. 

Your VCR could be:

  • A tool to complement inductions with activities aimed at connecting students at the start of term. This may mean there is a flurry of activity for the first few weeks which then tails off as students make then further connections through other platforms.
  • A weekly scheduled drop in session for department updates or to ask question
  • A space for regular hosted talks, focusing on specific themes such as careers or wellbeing

2. Assign a staff lead to to help programme events and other content

Although VCR’s are student led spaces, they work best when supported by a member of staff.  After collecting feedback on the performance of VCRs last academic year it’s clear that those lead by students but with an ongoing steer from staff had the highest number of interactions.

Staff leading on VCR spaces could be from any background whether that be Teaching Administrators, Departmental Tutors or Student Advisors. There could be a mix of staff leading on a department VCR allowing for students to get to know members of staff from different areas of the department.

Keeping a staff member on hand to lead the space with students also provides a key contact when they have questions about the VCR. Students can come to the staff leader/s to put forward ideas for the space and provide feedback on past interactions and events.

3. Tell you students where to find VCRs and remind them about it throughout the academic year

It’s important that students are reminded about its existence of VCRs throughout the academic year (unless this the goal was a VCR to support induction only). Its easy to talk students about the VCRs when they first arrive, but, it may have slipped their mind in a few weeks as they take in other information about university life.

Depending on the purpose of your VCR, you may want to remind students that the space is available for them. Below are a few ways you can let your students know about VCRs:

  • Student reps: Why not enlist the help of your academic reps to help spread the word. Academic reps are a great resource for departments, they are friendly faces within the student body that students trust and respect, asking your student reps to remind their peers that VCRs are available may help to encourage students to visits and interact with the space.
  • Signpost: Place information about VCRs at strategic places where you know there is a large student footfall. For example, key/core module Moodle pages, or a well visited student facing departmental website pages.