Combining (online) lectures with (on-campus) discussion groups

This article will show an example of how to combine online lectures with on-campus discussion groups using Virtual Classroom or MS Teams.

Cover image for the article that shows the schedule of the week 2 lectures

Course: WRM12803 Orientation on International Land & Water Management

Period: Period 1

Short Introduction and background

Introduction and story behind the emergence of this learning activity. What was the need, what issue/problem was the teacher facing and wanted to resolve? 

This first-year bachelor course in period 1 is meant to be an introduction to the domain and approach of the BSc program International Land & Water Management (BIL). We had to do the plenary lectures online but decided to supplement these with discussion groups on campus afterwards.  

By involving students in the organisation and setting up of the schedule and groups, we created buy-in and students attended also on campus whenever they could. 

Relevant tools / apps (software) or hardware used


  • MS Teams (advantage: more camera’s open at the same time)

Learning outcome(s)

What has been learned after this lesson/activity has been executed ?

The outcome of this activity was that students digested what was covered during lectures. As the groups were small, all individuals were stimulated to form their opinions about certain subjects.  

Lesson idea / Learning activity

Specific description and demonstration of the lesson idea/learning activity.

The live online lecture for the entire class was held online between 8:20 and 9:50 am, in Virtual Classroom. 

 After that, the lecture was discussed in two rounds. Students were divided over the two rounds; group round one consisted of students who were living close to the campus and could be there shortly after the lecture had finished. These students needed to come to campus between 10:40h and 12:00h. The group attending the second round between 12:20 and 13:50 consisted of students coming from further away. 

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The groups were divided again into four smaller groups of about 10 students in which the lecture was discussed thoroughly. One discussion group was online, for students who could not come to campus at all. A coach was appointed to each discussion group.

Figure 1: Sessions for the entire class were held in the Virtual Classroom

Figure 1: Sessions for the entire class were held in the Virtual Classroom

Lessons learned / Tips

Mentions tips lecturer has for colleagues based on their experience.

In comparison with earlier years, the subject matter landed a lot better. The small groups made that all individuals were activated and needed to think and form opinions about the subjects. In addition, the students were happy that they could see and interact with each other in person.  

The implication was that more staff was needed, but we managed this and for sure will keep the set-up of small discussion groups.  

 What worked very well is that we involved students with the organisation. Before the course started, we already e-mailed the students and asked them to indicate whether they could come to campus and how much travel time they needed. Thus, whether they wanted to be in the first or second group/round. By involving them, the right conditions were created and they kind of felt some urgency to come. The students were more committed and if they couldn’t come there was some kind of moral obligation to let the lecturer know.  


Teacher(s): Bert Bruins
TLC contact:
Barbara van Mossevelde
Author (interviewer): Barbara van Mossevelde 



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