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Discussions, Web Conferencing, Blogs, or Wikis?

 Stoney Gaddy, November 1, 2017


Do you have an assignment that requires students to communicate and collaborate beyond the classroom? Choosing the right solution depends on wht you are wanting your students to accomplish. It also depends on how effective the tool(s) are in making collaboration effective and efficient.  The chart below can be used as a guide to point you in the right direction.




Web Conferencing







Think "Debate"

Think "Conversation"

Think "Journals"

Think "Encyclopedia"





Students post their thoughts, findings, experiences, and such to form conversations around a topic (Asynchronous).

Students are present in real time and able to converse, brainstorm, and even share computer screens (Synchronous).

Students post their thoughts, findings, experiences and such into their own blog in a consistent and chronological fashion. Writings are typically one-sided without much input/response from others.

Each student has the ability to provide input and edit the wiki page/document to create a collaborative group or class project/product.





Activity Ideas


Students choose a side and debate on a topic

Groups discuss how to work on a project

Class engages in a conversation based on a topic, provides support and citation, or answers questions from their peers

Activity Ideas


Groups discuss how to work on a project


Students perform a presentation (speech) on a topic to other students and/or the instructor


Students discuss issues they are having on a project/assignment with their instructor/TA/GA (office hours, tutoring sessions).

Activity Ideas


Students reflect on readings, learned concepts/skills, or current events


Students document a field experience or internship

Students use the area for creative writing, brainstorming, or short compositions

Activity Ideas


Class develops an on-going list of terms and definitions

Group  organizes their ideas , findings, and such for a project or paper

Class or group researches and creates an ongoing study guide for exams


Tools to consider


D2L's Discussion tool would be the optimal solution for students to engage with other students and the professor.

Tools to consider


Cisco WebEx is an MSUB-supported Web conferencing solution where students and faculty can log in and start using the tool right away with their NetID credentials.

Tools to consider


WordPress and  Blogger are a couple popular FREE blogging solutions. Students can create accounts without much effort and start blogging right away.

Tools to consider is a popular Wiki that even allows the instructor to create spaces and accounts for students  easily with a roster of names and e-mail addresses. 



Suggested Reading


Available in the MSUB Library and has many, many sample activities and rubrics to help with identifying solid grading criteria.


Conrad, Rita-Marie; Donaldson, J. Ana (2011). Engaging the Online Learner : Activities and Resources for Creative Instruction