Classroom Interactions Online

Posted on March 7, 2017. Filed under: digital citizenship, Eci834, educational, Genius Hour, Google Classroom, Masters, Social Networking, teaching and learning, Technology |

As I was reading through this week’s assigned chapters, I became very thankful that Alec and Katia know this research well, and have shown our class, by example, what online learning should/can look like. As I was thinking about learning communities, I decided that one of the reasons why I feel our class’s learning community connects so well is because of the systems this class has in place to connect with others.

  1. Zoom live video. I can’t think of a better tool to feel like part of the class without a classroom. Even if most students don’t speak out loud during the classes, the live feature of being able to see everyone if you wanted, really helps with accountability and presence.
  2. Zoom chat. I compare this to when the chapter was talkingzoom about the MSN chat. Having the chat option during the live feed really builds community as there can be joking go on, side conversations and little comments here and there that not only make people feel like they are contributing, but encourages participation.
  1. Zoom breakout rooms. These short small group interactions help put faces to names, and allows you to feel like you know at least a few people on a more personal level. Usually during these breakout sessions, you at least find out what grade the other people teach and possibly one or two things about their classroom.
  2. Twitter chats. Using a class hashtag is an effective way to have asynchronous twitterconversation and sharing with classmates. Because of it’s ‘favourite’ and ‘retweet’ options, you feel connected with other members of the class even when you are not speaking face to face.
  3. Google+. Because of its closed/private discussion boards, Google+ can feel like a safer social media sharing platform than Facebook or Twitter. There isn’t a chance of anyone else (besides those in the class) that could read the posts. I think this helps people feel secure when they share something.

I love Shweir’s definition of participation in regards to online learning communities. He says participation is

“social interaction, especially participation that promotes self- determination, respects the autonomy of members and sustains the community” (2002).

This is important as it moves past the definition of raising your hand- virtually, or face to face.  I also know from my own experience that mandatory participation and participation marks don’t automatically equal engagement. There have been discussion boards and conversations that I have been involved in only for the sake of that participation mark.


“Power Law of Participation” photo credit: Ross Mayfield via Flickr

Pedagogically speaking, I really feel like we need to move past participation marks… into finding ways for authentic participation and engagement that promotes a growth mindset. Our group has decided to use Google Classroom as our LMS. I have been learning about the different ways Google Classroom allows students to get involved within that platform, and I have been thinking about ways to use that platform to the best of my ability.


Our group has decided to use blogging/pingbacks as a way for students to interact with the teacher and each other. We have also thrown around the idea of having the students use Twitter or another similar tool to connect with each other. (Rochelle’s post this week confirmed this is always a great tool) BUT the more I think about it, the more I feel like Google+ might be the better option because we chose Google Classroom as the LMS, but I could be wrong. What do you think? Should our group use Google+ as an added learning community just because we are using GC as the learning management system? Do you think that kids will buy in more, or have a better understanding of how the tool works because it’s created by the same company?

This journal article talks about how gamification and student competitiveness can boost student learning. I know that I love a healthy competition between friends or classmates. That is why for my module, I chose to have the students share their score from a digital citizenship game that they will be taking part in. I created a Google Form for them to input screen-shot-2017-01-29-at-11-15-26-pmtheir answers. This game is a fun way to make dig cit choices, and because there’s really no right or wrong answers in this game, sharing their score is a healthy way to promote participation and a little competition within their learning community. Along with the score, they will be writing how they think they could improve their score if they played the game again.  This way, they are also sharing tips and tricks  with their classmates that will share their knowledge on good digital citizenship behaviour.


I believe the best way to have student interactions that are meaningful, relevant and supportive, is to have the students engage with relevant content and actually care about what they are talking about. I think our group has a hand up in this sense as our group is


“Genius Hour” photo credit Denise Krebs via Flickr

doing Genius Hour which is where the students get to learn about whatever they want! Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of ways to make curriculum fun and engaging, but I am very excited to see how the students will build a specialized learning community throughout this process.



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6 Responses to “Classroom Interactions Online”

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Hi Danielle, I agree with your comments regarding how Alec and Katia have developed a community, indeed it is apparent that they practice the best practice research! In terms of your Genius Hour project for developing a community of learners for Genius Hour, I think the Google Classroom platform will work well. Overall the biggest pieces to explore will probably be the teacher guidance and modelling of how to support each other through the student driven inquiry process. I’m all about teaching frameworks for this… Is your considering sentence stems for support? Just throwing that out there, I’m sure you probably have that.

Well Jen, I just had to go look up what sentence stems were! How have I never heard of this before? I do want to know more! How have you seen them used most effectively?

Any idea how the moving past participation marks would look? When I read it I thought of “quality of participation”, with a rubric of requirements for legitimate participation? I think “imposed participation” is important to have students required to be a participant if it is a means of communication you want to occur. Thoughts?

Good questions Logan! Well my goal is to actually move past marks all together haha. I’m kind of a dreamer like that. I like to think of a strong community that shares and learns from each other without being “forced to.” Look at Twitter. People engage and share on that platform and they don’t have to. They find value in the community that is being offered, and they engage in the conversations that are important to them.
I guess the question is, if there wasnt the pressure of marks to begin with, would students find value in sharing and participating anyways? I took one pass/fail graduate class and it was pretty rad. But I was really engaged with the content. We still had to do the assignments to pass the class, but participation became part of the learning rather than part of the mark. Does that make sense?
There is also a high chance that I’m super naive when it comes to today’s teenage students and my expectations for them- but I do love these conversations!

I love the idea of no marks all together. I also tool a pass/fail class last semester and loved it. I was super engaged in the class as it was interactive, student driven and collaborative. I do think that classes without marks can be created and students would work hard. I like participation being part of the learning and not the mark, it makes it more authentic.

Haha some of them are very motivated and love learning. However, the backbone to it all is the marks. It’s unfortunate, but many assignments I will have several students ask: “how much is this worth?” And every time I want to yell: “You’re learning!!!!” But for many of them it’s because it’s what the next level identifies. Extrinsic motivation 😦

As I’m sure you’re aware, we’d need to completely change the system to do away with marks. But if the ball of change started rolling for it, I’d be right there with you making it happen. I’d envision something like a caseload/student profile rather than marks.

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