Staying connected and learning together

Social interactions play a critical role in classroom learning by helping students feel engaged and connected to their teachers and their peers. When transitioning to an online environment, we recommend leveraging media, like video and instant messaging, to recreate the social learning experience despite the distance between you and your students.

Video classes

Video helps simulate real-life social interactions by enabling educators and learners to read facial cues. Video also helps keep students focused by preventing them from multitasking

  • Start your video class by verifying that the students can see and hear you.
  • Ask your students to stay on mute unless they are speaking.
  • If any video issues occur, students can dial into class via phone.
  • Record the session so that absent students can watch it later.
  • Centralize all learning materials to make it easy for anyone to talk, watch videos, or engage in learning activities.

Promote participation

Use a variety of methods to encourage participation throughout class.

  • Students can use the chat box to ask questions, make comments, and provide feedback throughout class.
  • Establish a standard method for how students ask questions, communicate agreement/disagreement and when they are stepping away. 
  • In-app polling and quizzing features can be used to encourage group participation and solicit feedback on a current discussion.
  • Choosing students at random to share thoughts or answer questions will encourage them to pay attention throughout class just as you would in a physical classroom.
  • Give students an opportunity to provide feedback on their online learning experiences so you can adjust as needed.


Create a balance of work and play.

  • Present a fun question to the group to get students talking, or encourage people to join early to briefly socialize before class begins.
  • Host fun ice-breaker activities at the beginning of class.
  • If it is a long class session, build in time for periodic stretch breaks to re-energize students.

Communicating outside of class time

Use an instant messaging platform to encourage engagement outside of class. It's ideal if you have a communication stream that is always online and always available, so that students can interact with you and their classmates in a live (but monitored) environment.

  • Students can ask questions in the channel as well as interact socially.
  • Instant messaging platforms also enable students to contact their teachers directly if needed.
  • Consider pairing older students with younger ones to provide tutoring and support.