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Strategies to promote student-to-student interaction in your online courses
With the recent shift to emergency remote teaching and the fact that courses during the first two summer sessions will only be offered online, CATL is providing some information on ways instructors can facilitate student-to-student interaction in online courses.
Students working together on content
- Create groups students can join themselves.
- Allow students to create their own groups. People tab must be enabled.
- Create a discussion for students to get to know each other and ask questions.
- Allow students to create discussions.
- Create a collaboration (Word, Excel, PowerPoint).
Student virtual meetings
- Let students know they can use the Collaborate Ultra course room to meet.
- Create open Collaborate Ultra sessions students can use whenever they need.
Teams: students can message or have meetings
- Create a class group in Microsoft Teams or let students create it themselves!
- Have students sign up for a WebEx account to host virtual meetings.
Virtual Meeting Strategies and Troubleshooting
- Help students manage slow internet and lower bandwidth
- Provide best practices for managing virtual work
- Remind students to:
- Mute their microphone when others are talking
- Use headphones to minimize echo
- Restart their computer daily
Utilize student-run synchronous sessions
Instructors can use student run live/synchronous sessions in their online courses. These synchronous sessions provide a way for students to be able to hear and see each other while taking an online course from different geographical locations. These sessions could be informal in nature, for example, providing students a space to discuss and talk about course content covered in a certain unit or module of the class, or to organize student study sessions for assignments or exams. Synchronous sessions can also be used for more formal course requirements such as having students deliver a group presentation or working on a group project. Tools that can be used for these synchronous sessions include Collaborate Ultra, WebEx, and Microsoft Teams.
Promote student-to-student interaction using peer-review
Generally speaking, students are open to the idea of helping each other in class and peer review is one way to accomplish that. Having students evaluate each other's work and provide feedback can have a positive effect on student motivation, engagement, and academic achievement. When using peer reviews it is important for instructors to be clear on the directions given for the peer review and also clear on what is expected of students when reviewing each other’s work. It can be helpful to provide a rubric or other detailed instructions for students to follow when conducting peer reviews. It is also important to reinforce the idea that peer feedback should be respectful and constructive. There is a peer review function directly in Canvas.
Have students help create course materials or policies and procedures
Another idea to get students interacting with each other in online courses is to have them be involved in creating course materials, determining content that will be covered in class, and helping establish course policies. For example, most online instructors utilize netiquette guidelines in their courses. Some instructors have students discuss and create these guidelines during the first week of a course. Having students discuss and help determine how online discussions should be utilized in class and the requirements surrounding those discussions is another way students can work together and help contribute to a course. Some instructors even leave purposeful gaps in their course content and ask students to help determine what additional ideas or content should be covered. Having students work together to help contribute to the course make-up gives them an opportunity to get-to-know each other and it can give students an increased sense of ownership in the class.