Students often feel isolated not only from their teachers in online classes, but also from each other. Without social interaction, they lose both the cognitive benefits of sharing ideas with their peers and receiving feedback from them as well as the socio-emotional benefits of being in a learning community. Fortunately, tools exist to help create social interaction in online classes. See our research papers on social presence and interaction.
- Encourage students to introduce themselves to their peers (this can be a great low-risk way to practice a digital tool they need to use later, e.g., create a short video)
- Use break out rooms in Zoom, Google Hangouts, or other digital spaces to allow for smaller group discussions in synchronous classes (see our Zoom tips for how)
- Create opportunities for group projects or to provide feedback on student drafts of papers, presentations
- Set up discussion forums with clear instructions on how to interact
- 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?