Increasing Student-to-Student Engagement Online

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"How Can Online Instructors Get Students to Talk to Each Other" (post) outlines several suggestions for "[c]ultivating an engaging environment ... when teaching online."

  • "The role of a teacher is more than presenting concepts and having students present those same ideas back to us at some future time."
  • "By having students engage with each other in classes, the richness of the interactions increase and the learning deepens."
  • "Make student-to-student interaction more personable by making it easy for them to engage with each other, rethinking discussion boards, and using video for conversations."

1. "Make It Easy for Students to Interact"

  • "The easier a tool is to use, the more likely students will feel comfortable engaging with each other."
  • "Tricider has us identify what crowdsourced decision we want to make, or what type of brainstorming we’d like to spark, and we are up and running. Students can add ideas, pros and cons, and vote on items. The instructor can decide if you want to let anyone who has the link be able to collaborate, protect your ideas with a password, or require people to set up accounts before they can engage."
  •  "Padlet: a virtual corkboard that students and instructors can use to post text, photos, and links"
  • "Dropbox Paper or Google Docs: these mainstream collaborative word-processing tools let instructors invite students to collaborate on assignments or group work."
  • "Trello: a virtual stack of index cards where students can add their ideas. All of these tools can be embedded into the learning management system your school uses, so students never have to leave their familiar environment in order to participate."

2. "Rethink Discussion Boards"

  • "[E]xperimen[t] with a different approach involves using the peer grading function."
  • One option: "[D]esignat[e] two peer reviewers for each submitted reading assignment and as[k] that reviewers respond to the takeaways and ways the learning could be applied, and to provide an answer to the question that was posed by each of the two people they were connected with via the peer review feature."
  • Or, use "the system [to] automatically lin[k] [students] to different people they might not have otherwise shared ideas with."

3. "Discuss Via Video"

  • "FlipGrid is an easy way to pose a question and have people respond via videos."
  • "VoiceThread ... allows for the kind of real-time interaction ... [and] you can post more than just video for annotations from others. A student could comment that he was confused about a concept at the precise moment that the idea was being discussed. Other students could help out by explaining how they understood the topic and possibly by providing an example."

4. "Introduce Social Annotation as a Means to Engage."

  • Social annotation allows "the power of discussions taking place in the margins of books."
  • "Hypothes.is is a social annotating tool that takes these reading practices to a whole new level. When reading on the internet, you can select text and annotate it. These notes may be shared publicly or saved privately."
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