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Wednesday, November 18, 2020
Teaching & Learning Virtual Learning Resources

3 Great Ways to Add Class Discussions to Your Virtual Lessons

Class Discussion Online

As we look toward building virtual lessons for students, one classroom strategy that you may want to recreate in virtual form is the class discussion. A virtual discussion can look different from a traditional class discussion in that it is often a bit more linear, and it can happen asynchronously, meaning not everyone is discussing together at the same time.

We’ve selected three approaches to hosting online class discussions that we feel are easy to set-up, free to use, and provide a good environment for discussion.

Google Docs

Hosting a class discussion through Google Docs is as easy as setting up a Google Doc and sharing the link with your students. There are two ways to host a discussion with Google Docs. First, you can use the doc itself as the forum for the discussion. You would simply type your questions in the doc, and invite students to respond to each question. You can know who is commenting by requiring students to log in with their EVSC Mail in the share settings. The nice thing about this approach is that the discussion can be done asynchronously. Another way to use Google Docs to host discussion is to use the doc to house a discussion item and to use the chat feature to hold the actual discussion. The trick here is that the chat feature will only be available as long as there are at least 2 people logged in to the doc. This option is better if you want to hold a live (real-time) discussion.

Google Resource Page

Here is a demo video:


The discussion feature of itslearning is located inside an individual course, and it can be added as a resource under the Resources Tab or as part of a lesson in the Planner. The nice thing about this option is that if you are already using itslearning with your class, you can easily set this up and you can even mark it as a graded discussion.

Here is a video that can get you started:

You can also communicate with your students through Messaging and Discussions. These tools include commenting/reply features and can be another way to lead discussion with individuals or a whole class.

Here are some videos to get you started with that:


If you need a quick and easy way to set up a chat similar to one you would see on Twitter, a great option is TodaysMeet because it doesn’t require your students to have an account. You simply send them the link, they sign in to the tool, and then they are in the TodaysMeet room. At that point they can post comments that others can see. You can lead the discussion as a moderator. This tool works better in real-time because students only see the comments that are made once they join the room, so previous comments are not there for them to see. The nice thing is that a user can download the whole transcript for the discussion for review later.

TodaysMeet Resource Page

Here is a demo video:

A Few More Possibilities

While these options didn’t make our top three, they are definitely tools that teachers can use to hold an effective virtual discussion. In some cases they require additional accounts, take extra time to set-up, or involve a steeper learning curve. We’ve linked resources to learn more about them:

Blogger- Good for folks who already interact with students on this platform- Blogger Resource Page

Facebook- Good for folks who already interact with students on this platform- Facebook Resource Page

Twitter- Good for folks who already interact with students on this platform- Twitter Resource Page

VoiceThread- Great tool for discussion, but requires more learning to use- VoiceThread Resource Page

Weebly- Has a blog feature that could easily be used for discussions if you already use it- Weebly Resource Page

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