Distance and online learning

Last updated 31 March 2020

This is a collection of advice and resources for running courses online, doing activities online that were previously face-to-face.

Remember that our resource database links to many videos, worksheets, and other resources.

The Open University has a free online course called Take Your Teaching Online covering many aspects of the move to online teaching.

Online teaching - In the context of COVID-19
Blog post by Simon Halliday (Smith College, USA), March 2020
An economics lecturer describes a range of online tools and how he uses them.

Josh DiPaolo Answers Questions about Online Teaching
Crooked Timber blog, March 2020
A philosophy lecturer explains how he has made the transition from face-to-face to asynchronous online teaching mid-semester, responding to the COVID-19 pandemic.


Case study: Teaching with webinars
Alvin Birdi, University of Bristol, February 2019

Case study: Use of virtual seminars in Economic Principles
John Sloman, University of the West of England, December 2002

Technology for live webinars

Blackboard Collaborate Ultimate is a tool built into Blackboard Virtual Learning Environments for running online classrooms. It can be used to run online lectures with some interaction from students, online tutorials or virtual office hours. We are grateful to Ralf Becker of the University of Manchester for sharing this guide to getting started with Collaborate (PDF).

In case your institution does not have its own webinar solution, there are cheap or free tools for online meetings and webinars across many kinds of device.

  • Zoom is a videoconferencing tool with chat facility and screen-sharing. You can capture the video of the webinar as a local file. The free version has a limit of 100 participants and 40 minutes (though the 40 minute limit is being lifted for many educational institutions, so check what applies to your institution). There are clients for Windows, Mac, ChromeOS, Linux, iOS, and Android.
  • EZTalks is a videoconferencing tool that includes polling and a shared whiteboard. The free version has a limit of 100 participants and 40 minutes. There are clients for Windows, Mac, iOS, and Android.

Tip: some videoconferencing tools have everybody's microphone or video on by default. This can be chaotic with large groups, so before the webinar set the default to microphone off ("Mute all" on Zoom).

Lecture capture

If you have slide shows in Powerpoint, it is relatively easy to turn them into videos with audio narration and pen annotations, plus video of you speaking if you have a webcam. This 7 minute video explains how.

Case study: Using Panopto for Game Theory
Giancarlo Ianulardo, University of Bath, January 2009

Technology for recording yourself

This 8 minute video from the MOOC platform Udemy looks at cameras, microphones, and other equipment for educators to record or broadcast themselves. There is an accompanying equipment list as a PDF.

Some basic tips for video recording (via Kalabi.com):

  • Use a tripod or stand to keep the camera (or phone) steady.
  • Have the light coming from behind the camera.
  • Keep the camera at eye level.
  • Use a plain background.

Technology for screen recording

Here are some free tools that enable you to capture your screen or a webcam, with audio commentary, and save as a video file without watermarks or adverts.

Online projects

Case study: Online projects using discussion boards
Michael A. Quinn, Bentley College, Massachusetts, January 2007

The lud.io economics games platform is making two of its simulation games (the Industrial Organization game and the Airline game) free to users until the end of July 2020. These can be played over one to several days and are designed to show the effect of market structures on firms' behaviour.

The CORE team are releasing a st of resources dedicated to teaching Economics during the COVID-19 crisis.


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