Structuring the seminar

Similar to a lecture, a seminar should have a beginning, middle and end. If you are running a seminar online remember that it may be harder for students to join synchronous live events, any live sessions should be recorded and accompanied by offline resources and activities. 

Use the menu at the top to explore all opening, intermediate and closing activities

Opening activities

An opening activity is a short activity at the beginning of a class to get the students attention. Its aims are to focus the students, set the tone of the class and introduce the topic.


Scaffolding is based on the idea that as teachers we need to prepare the students before they can answer higher order questions. We cannot expect students to delve straight into the most complex questions, we have to gradually build them up to it with in a class.

Closing activities

Classes should end with a re-cap of what the students have done and what they have learnt. This can also be done using activities eg. Face to face teaching examples could be; tell the person next to you one thing you learnt; the class produces a mind-map of everything they covered in class; in pairs draw up a list of questions that were explored and share with the class. Online activities might involve; Complete this Moodle quiz;  the class produces a mind-map of everything they covered in class using the whiteboard tool in Zoom/Teams; in pairs on chat in Moodle/Teams draw up a list of questions that were explored and share with the class on a discussion forum or on the Chat in Zoom/Teams. 

Giving instructions

If you are teaching synchronously either face to face or online it is helpful to put up instructions for each activity on the screen on a slide so students can refer back to what they are supposed to be doing. Handouts can also be provided with specific instructions for group work tasks and either shared with a breakout room and posted on Moodle.  If you are teaching asynchronously instructions can be posted onto a discussion forum or as a separate document on Moodle with a clear title/heading e.g. Instructions for group work activity.

Using the space

How the classroom is physically set out will affect the tone of the class. Different set-ups are suitable for different types of learning and teaching. Think about re-arranging the space from how a lecture is run. For example, put the tables in a circle or remove the tables altogether and sit in a circle of chairs. This will create a more informal learning space and enable the students to talk to each other rather than just to the teacher.

During the class, the space can be re-arranged to suit different activities, such as group work or pair work.

Just as physical space in a classroom can be used to set the tone online space can do the same thing.  Provide students with appropriate spaces online to work together as a class or in groups, pairs or individually.  Remember that students will need clear instructions about how they are expected to use this space with timings and the exact task they need to complete. Some examples are below:  

Breakout rooms (in Adobe Connect and Zoom) – can be used to allow students to have discussions or complete specific activities before coming back to the whole group to share with a summary or discussion. 

Channels (in Teams) – can allow students to work in groups asynchronously and synchronously. 

Chat and forum tools in Moodle can be used to allow students to discuss and share ideas and queries asynchronously.  

Skills Development

As University teachers, we are not only responsible for teaching content, but are also responsible in helping our students develop their academic and employability skills. This can be achieved by using appropriate activities within a small group seminar. This is not at the expense of content and knowledge, but occurs alongside.