Topic 2: Choosing the right digital tools to facilitate student-to-student and student-to-teacher interaction

To facilitate both student-to-student and student-to-teacher interaction in e-learning, fostering learner interaction, and supporting a sense of presence, the right digital technologies should enable real-time communication, collaborative work, and a sense of community. Selecting the right mix of these technologies will depend on the specific context, the subject matter, the learning objectives, and the preferences of both the students and the instructor. It’s also important to provide students with the necessary training and support to use these tools effectively. When these technologies are implemented thoughtfully, they can significantly enhance interaction and engagement in e-learning environments.

Here are some technologies tailored for these purposes:

Video Conferencing Tools
They provide a platform for live class sessions, office hours, and one-on-one meetings, facilitating real-time visual and auditory communication that can closely mimic face-to-face interactions.

Interactive Whiteboards and Annotation Tools
These tools allow for real-time collaboration during lessons, where both teachers and students can contribute, annotate, and visually share ideas as if they were in the same room.

Online Discussion Platforms
These platforms allow for asynchronous discussions, giving students the opportunity to post thoughts, video responses, and feedback, which can be revisited and reflected upon over time.

Collaborative Document Editing
Students can work together in real-time or asynchronously on shared documents, spreadsheets, and presentations, facilitating cooperative learning and project work.

Learning Management System (LMS) Features
Integrated LMS tools can streamline communication and collaboration, with the added benefit of being linked directly to course content and resources.

Social Media and Networking Platforms
These platforms can extend the classroom community to a broader network, encouraging informal interactions and networking.

Instant Messaging and Chat Tools
Instant messaging can facilitate quick, informal conversations and create a continuous space for class community interaction.

Peer Review and Feedback Tools
Peer assessment tools help students engage with each other’s work, offering constructive feedback and learning through evaluation.

Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR)
VR and AR can create immersive learning experiences and simulations that bring students together in a virtual space that feels more ‘present’ than traditional online platforms.

Audience Response Systems and Polling
Live polling and quizzes can create interactive and fun learning experiences, encouraging everyone to participate in real-time.

Webinar Tools with Breakout Features
The use of breakout rooms during webinars or classes can facilitate small group discussions, allowing for closer interaction akin to classroom side conversations.

Learners Edge. (2020, June, 15). Digital tools for online teaching  [YouTube Video].

Learn more:

Bellard, Q., Long, E. & McCoy, K.S. (2021, February 5). Enhancing student engagement and interaction with online digital tools [blog]. Faculty Focus.