UEN Teacher Tips


Better Discussions, Better Engagement
Using Online Discussions to Supercharge Learning
by Dani Sloan

I love the energy in a classroom when students are engaged in a discussion. Transferring this energy to an online platform can supercharge your lessons and create a dynamic learning environment for all learners. Although you may have concerns about engagement or technical glitches, online discussions can deepen student understanding, increase participation and enhance the enjoyment of your class.

Here are a few benefits of online discussions:

  • Boosted Engagement and Empowered Voices: Online discussions provide a level playing field. Through text-based interactions, shy students can confidently contribute, while others can take their time to craft their responses thoughtfully. This inclusivity leads to richer discussions, where diverse perspectives come together to expand the knowledge of all students. 

  • Deeper Understanding: Traditional discussions can be fast-paced, leaving some students behind. Online discussions offer a different rhythm. The asynchronous nature allows students to delve deeper into the material at their own pace, reflect on questions and formulate insightful responses.

  • Prepared Students: Imagine starting your in-person discussion with everyone on the same page, eager to delve deeper. Assigning online discussions before topics are taught can set the stage for a collaborative and productive in-person discussion, maximizing class time. Students come prepared with the shared foundation created by posing well-thought-out questions or assigning videos or readings. 

  • Inclusion: Sometimes, students miss class. Online discussions allow everyone to participate and contribute to the learning journey. This inclusive approach fosters community and keeps everyone on the same page. 

  • Accessibility: Online discussion platforms offer accessibility features unavailable to students during live discussions. Tools like screen readers, speech-to-text software and the ability to create video or audio contributions empower students to engage in ways that might be challenging in a traditional classroom setting. 

For tips on how to implement online discussions, check out the video below!

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Dr. Dani Sloan helps educators lead, research and teach digital citizenship. She's a UEN Product Manager, former Elementary Teacher and current mom to a fifth grader. Dani is passionate about preparing students for a digital world, her dachshunds and terrible reality TV.

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