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Best Practices | Online Learning Tools

Interacting with students and assessing their knowledge acquisition is critical in all learning environments. There are many tools available to faculty that make interaction and assessment engaging and effective. Below is a graphic that outlines various online learning tools and how they can be used in an online course. 

  When you want to… Interaction Assessment Learning Objectives Examples
Discussion Forums Post topics or questions for students to respond, share information and resources, and discuss asynchronously Opportunity for high interaction between all course participants if instructor clearly communicates minimum requirements Can be used as a form of assessment; Provide rubric or grading criteria to students Discuss, analyze, compare and contrast Discussions (Canvas), Facebook, VoiceThread, Perusall
Virtual Meetings/Web Conferences Communicate synchronously with one or more students with the benefit of video/audio/whiteboard capabilities; have live presentations/lectures by the instructor or student Visual and audio interaction possibilities with video/web conferencing Limited assessment capabilities Present, listen, watch, discuss, speak, meet Zoom, Microsoft Teams meetings
Chat Rooms Have synchronous communication between multiple people in a text only format Less formal interaction in real time Not for assessment Discuss, clarify, meet Chat (Canvas), Google Hangouts
Announcements Send a reminder or give out new information to all students at once One way communication from teacher to learner Not for assessment Recall, remember Announcements (Canvas), Facebook Group
Blogs Have students post a chronological series of entries on a topic, make periodic updates on the same page Each blog page is usually written by a single user or group but made public to the rest of the class for comment Can be used for assessment Update, recall, reflect, review Wordpress, Blogger
Journals Have students write or reflect throughout the course, record lab results, document clinical experiences Usually private between the student and instructor, but can be shared for others to read May be used for assessment by the instructor Reflect, record, document, communicate ePortfolio or Assignments (Canvas)
Wiki Collaborative space where all students can view, contribute, and edit content, create course glossaries and study guides, post text, images, videos, and links Open for interaction and collaboration between all students and the instructor Limited assessment capabilities Brainstorm, plan, write, define, create, post Pages or Collaborations (Canvas)
Student Groups Organize students for things like group projects or papers High interaction among small groups of students Assignments created as a group can be turned in and assessed Create, collaborate, discuss, compare and contrast People (Canvas), Facebook Group
Quizzes Assess learning with questions Limited interaction between instructor and student Designed as an assessment tool Respond, recall, identify, label Quizzes (Canvas)
ePortfolio Have students collect evidence, artifacts, or document learning for long term storage Individual work that may be shared with others May be used for assessment, formative or summative Document, collect, assemble ePortfolios (Canvas)