Student-to-student communication is one of the primary ways in which course content is meaningfully constructed by students, but this doesn't always happen on it's own. Support student-to-student communication by reminding your students the different ways that can interact. Use all of the tools at your disposal to get students engaged with one another synchronously and asynchronously.
Synchronous communication between students
During class time, maximize the students' engagement with one another and minimize the amount of time in which the instructor is relaying information in a one-way direction at students. This will help students to feel that class time is valuable because their individual presence is vital to the classroom experience.
If you're teaching a hybrid class with both in-person and online students, consider the following suggestions:
- If possible, have the students in the class visible to those online and vice versa.
- Try to organize class time around rich learning experiences (Centers video) in which students are actively engaged with one another.
- Use Zoom breakout rooms so that online students can participate in group work at the same time as in-person students.
- Use cloud software for collaborative work
Asynchronous communication between students
There are a number of tools within Canvas that can enable students to engage with one another one on one, in small groups, and as a class. Carefully applying the appropriate tool to the task at hand will enliven students' engagement with one another.
- Canvas Announcements (Canvas video) - While the Announcements tool is principally used for faculty-to-student communication, it can also be set to allow comments and 'likes' from students. If you post a reminder about an assignment, enabling these commenting features allows a space for students to communicate their questions in a public forum which can reduce the number of emails you receive and help to build consensus around your expectations.
- Canvas Discussions (Canvas video) - The Discussions tool allows students to develop their ideas as a community. Discussions can be used informally to allow for low stakes development of ideas. Discussions can be used effectively for peer-to-peer learning (EX: have students upload a first draft of an essay and provide peer feedback to one another). Providing clear expectations in the form of a discussion post rubric to students can ensure that they create a thoughtful, well-documented dialogue that directly relates to course content. Remember to monitor and contribute regularly to any discussion activity you create.
- Canvas Peer Review (Canvas article) - This feature for Canvas Assignments allows for peer critique of selected work. Peer combinations can be assigned by the instructor or created randomly by Canvas.