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5 Online Discussion Tools to Fuel Student Engagement

Drawing students into an in-depth discussion has always been a challenging task. And now that nearly everything is moved to online classrooms, it has become a really hot issue. However, there are some elaborate tools that can turn debates into a fun and engaging activity, even in the virtual setting.

Backchannel Chat
This online chat room was designed especially for educational purposes. It aims to increase student participation and facilitate exchange. The platform was originally created as a tool to support classroom activities, enabling the audience to comment and ask questions during presentations, debates, or film screenings. Yet, it proved to be equally good for remote learning due to its built-in resource sharing functions. They enable instructors to add YouTube videos and upload images from Picasa, Flickr, Dropbox, Google Drive, or web search to provoke discussion around these media elements or use them as visual aids. Educators can also create real-time polls and embed tweets for their students to respond to.

Backchannel Chat is a moderated online discussion board. Teachers oversee the feed by approving every message that comes from chat members. This way, they can filter out posts with harsh language, inappropriate content, or random comments cluttering the forum. It also allows them to ask questions and see the students' responses before revealing the correct answers to the rest of the group.

Padlet
This is an online space that can be used for student conversations during a lecture, for brainstorming sessions, or topic discussions. It's essentially a virtual notice board where learners can post their ideas, questions, and comments on the subject. They can also add digital content to support their point. Padlet enables users to upload media files from their computer or smartphone, share links from the web, and embed publications from other platforms, such as YouTube, Instagram, Twitter, and The New York Times. All content can be added with one click, copy-paste, or drag-and-drop feature, making the service super easy to work with.

Padlet is available in 29 languages, so it can foster collaboration across nations and cultures. Students from the far-reaching corners of the globe can work together on their projects, presentations, and portfolios in a 100% secure environment. The discussion dashboard can be made private, secret, password-protected, and public. Additionally, as an extra layer of safety, a moderator can give other members read-only, writing, or admin access.

NowComment
This tool is great for text annotation and discussion. Instructors simply have to upload the document in any form and format, and the service does the rest, neatly arranging the input data. The online discussion area is split in two-pane view with the original text displayed to the left and comments appearing to the right. Any passage of the document, entrenched image, or video can have multiple conversation threads. The service visually distinguishes which part of the shared material people have been responding to.

Instructors can use NowComment to create tests and writing assignments. When choosing the first option, they can restrict access to the document and block chat members from commenting or seeing the other's replies until the set time. This way, the group will be able to respond only during the designated period, and each student will work on the answer on their own.

As for the assignments, educators can set a due date and time and also send automatic reminders about the deadline. Students are allowed to add their documents, presentations, or essays right on the platform. If the time is scarce and they can't finish the assigned project before the due date, they can seek help from professional writers who are experienced in dealing with write my term paper requests.

Flipgrid
This is a free social learning app designed for video discussion. Its intuitive navigation makes Flipgrid a convenient tool to use at any educational level, from elementary school to vocational training. Educators just need to post a discussion topic to the "grid," which is basically a virtual classroom, and share it with their learning community. Students then respond to the prompt with short video clips. That helps to tackle one of the most overlooked issues in online learning, which is developing speaking and listening skills.

On Flipgrid, learners have enough time to think about their response, do some research, and ask questions. They can also react to their classmates' videos fostering further discussion and creating a feedback loop. Given that users can add fun stickers, emoji, text, inking, and filters to their recordings, this application becomes one of the most exciting and playful means to fuel student engagement.

Kialo
This platform helps to explore complex issues via thoughtful debates and discussions. Once students join the dispute, they have to pick the side (pro or cons) and present their opinions on the given subject. The claims are sorted out into separate branches that either support or challenge the main thesis. The discussion is thus plainly visualized to demonstrate the balance between for and against responses.

It is a great practice for students to exercise critical thinking and reasoning. As their professor and classmates can ask questions and provide feedback to the original claim, each chat member should learn to persuade others using logical and respectful arguments. This encourages everyone to find the best examples to back up their point and improve their phrasing to convey a clear and concise message.
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