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Enabling communication among students is important because it allows you to reproduce any collaboration you build into your module and maintains a sense of community that can help keep students motivated to participate and learn.

Consider these suggestions when planning activities:

  • Use asynchronous tools when possible: Having students participate in live conversations can be useful, but scheduling can be a problem, and only a few students may actively participate just like in a regular classroom. In such cases, consider using asynchronous tools like Canvas Discussions to enable students to participate on their own schedules. In addition, bandwidth requirements for discussion boards are far lower than for live video tools.
  • Link to clear goals and outcomes: Make sure there are clear purposes and outcomes for any student-to-student interaction. How does this activity help them meet course outcomes or prepare for other assignments?
  • Build in simple accountability: Find ways to make sure students are accountable for the work they do in any online discussions or collaborations. Assigning points for online discussion posts can be tedious, so some instructors ask for reflective statements where students detail their contributions and reflect on what they learned from the conversation.
  • Balance newness and need: As with any changed activities, you will need to balance the needs and benefits of online collaboration with the additional effort such collaboration will require on everyone else's part. Learning new technologies and procedures might be counterproductive, particularly in the short term, unless there is clear benefit
  • Encourage students to engage and interact with each other: Remember students may already have their own social networks established on various platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, WhatApp, Facebook Messenger, Snapchat, etc. and encourage them to continue interacting with each other on these platforms outside of class to support each other on their learning journey.

The following resources may also prove useful:

Let's get social