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Talis Elevate

Hearing from the Community: Introducing Talis Elevate to your students

Natalie Naik
History (Subject)

As with any new tool you use in teaching, it’s critical that you introduce this with your students early in the module, so they are familiar not just with ‘how’ to practically use it, but the why, and when.

In this post, we spoke to colleagues across the community who have been really successful in their use of Talis Elevate, asking them to share their advice on getting students on board. 


Dr Jamie Wood, Principal Lecturer in History in the School of History and Heritage and School Director of Learning and Teaching at the University of Lincoln 

Jamie told us that he introduced Talis Elevate to his students in their first lecture, by using slides and then logging into view content in the tool. 

To get his students to engage with Talis Elevate, he assigned them work to do outside of the classroom within the content so they could get used to it. They then discussed it in class until they became comfortable with interacting with Talis Elevate. 

Jamie told us “In future I might get the students to bring their laptops and do it ‘live’ during the first or second session just to check that they know what they are doing. This might also feed into more in-class engagement with the tool in future.”

When discussing how to make the tool feel like a ‘safe space’ for students to share their ideas and have discussions, Jamie said “I really stressed that it was low-investment, high-reward. While I monitored the space, it was for them to do the commenting and I just used them to help my planning of the module.”

We asked him how he would recommend other academics to introduce Talis Elevate to their students. He said: “Model what you expect the students to do on multiple occasions using different formats. Allow them to try it out for themselves afterwards and have opportunities for feedback/ troubleshooting. Talk openly to them about the benefits of using it. I’d also advocate that a little bit and often (drip feed) is much better than expecting them to do loads.“


Anna Rich-Abad is an Assistant Professor within the Faculty of Arts at the University of Nottingham.

Anna introduced her students to Talis Elevate by showing it to them in their first seminar session, explaining how it worked and how to access it through their VLE (Virtual Learning Environment), Moodle.

Talis Elevate was used as a tool to work on primary sources in her Medieval History course. She told us that “Students are often wary of them because of the different kinds of language and symbolism, so that allowed them to share tentative interpretations and reassure them that they understood correctly. It also helped them to complement and support each other with contextual information from other readings.”

Anna used the students’ interaction with Talis Elevate as part of the assessment for engagement in the course (up to 5%), and she also used students’ comments to focus the seminar to which the texts related. 

Anna told us that students overcame any apprehensions about using the tool and were open to sharing their thoughts. She put this down to focusing the tool on collaboration, stressing that everyone’s comments were valid. 

We asked what Anna would tell other academics interested in using Talis Elevate: “Certainly in my discipline, Medieval History, students will gain confidence if they can approach the primary source through a tool like Talis Elevate. An argument to make is that they will see their commentary and other students’ commentaries and that will make them think twice about the text, and reassure them or correct them without the face-to-face potential for confrontation. I would say the tutor may need to monitor the chat, but initially, students haven’t been responding directly or debating, more likely they have been complementing or supporting each other.”


Dr Wendy Garnham, Director Of Student Experience (Foundation Year: Arts And Humanities, Social Sciences), at the University of Sussex 

Wendy directed students straight towards Talis Elevate via their VLE Canvas during the first seminar of the semester. From there, she used the student guide slides (see it below) to explain the tool and how to use it for collaborative learning. 

Wendy told us “I asked each student to either post a new discussion question or respond to an existing one on Talis to ensure they knew how to post comments and questions on there and to enable them to see in real-time how Talis Elevate worked. Rather than work in isolation on this, they sat in pairs to help each other where problems arose and I circulated to make sure they were all accessing the paper using Talis Elevate.”

The use of analytics was made clear to students so they had an understanding of how Wendy would be monitoring their activity, as well as how they could use it to track their own progress.

Anonymous commenting was a feature that Wendy made a point to explain to students, in order to ensure all students could contribute without the obstacle of lack of confidence. “I stressed to students that this was a way of them working through their understanding of the paper, drawing on their experience and demonstrating their thinking around an issue before the seminar itself, giving them a “headstart” for the activities in the seminar.”

Wendy gives the following advice for other academics looking to use Talis Elevate: “Make sure that students know how to access resources within Talis, how to post comments, and are aware that we can see whether they have engaged with the resource is essential right at the beginning of the semester.“


Guidance for students

We’ve put together a student guide for you to introduce Talis Elevate to your students.

So that we can always provide the most up to date guidance, we’ve created this as a set of Google Slides.

We suggest you make a copy or download it so that you can amend it to suit you, or for a static version, download as a PDF. 

You can add this to your Elevate module for additional information, and walk your students through the guide. 

Don’t forget, students also have access to support guides via the HELP button within Talis Elevate as well. You can see these articles yourself here 

Other good practice

We have been collating advice from our colleagues across the sector on general Talis Elevate use. Check out our Good Practice Guide here, which points to some approaches you may not have considered before when using Talis Elevate. 


Join us for a webinar

As this is such an important topic, we’re running a webinar about it too. It takes place on the 15th September, you can sign up here

In this webinar, we will:

– Explore good practices from across the Talis Elevate community on introducing and engaging our students with Talis Elevate
– Detail some good practice for the coming term
– Give an overview of methods our colleagues have used to gather feedback from students around the use of Talis Elevate 

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