Skip to main content

e-Learning kit: Building community

Strategies and technologies for transitioning from face-to-face teaching to online environments (#eLkit).

Building community

Tools on this page support principles of good teaching - in particular: 1) Good practice encourages contact between students and faculty, and 2) Good practice develops reciprocity and cooperation among students (Gabriel, 2007). Most of the tools for public interactions also include options for private discussions between students or with instructors.

On this page: Scheduling, peer support, group discussions, messaging, voice boards, social media and conferencing.

Scheduling

Tools for students and teachers to schedule virtual and face-to-face meetings:

  • With Skype for Business @ McGill, McGill staff and students can schedule Skype meetings through Outlook.
  • Doodle: Registration not required.
  • Meet-O-Matic: Only provides days of the week - no time slots or AM/PM options with free plan.
  • YouCanBook.me: Booking software that offers a personalized scheduling page (integrates with pages, such as LibGuides).

Peer support

Group discussions

Discussion forums or boards are built into many learning environments but there are also these social media options.

Messaging/texting

Voice boards

Voiceboards are synchronous audio online discussions.

  • iPadio: Broadcast live to the web from a phone call (change privacy settings to control who hear’s what). There is a number in Canada so no long distance charges.
  • Vocaroo
  • Wimba Voice ($ Blackboard)
  • Voicethread ($)

Social media

Microblogs

Conferencing

Conferencing tools can be used to deliver synchronous webinars, for student presentations, for discussions and meetings, and for instructor office hours. Some questions to help while reviewing tools: 1) How many participants are you expecting? 2) Will you have participants conferencing from a mobile device? 3) Do you need co-browsing functionality? 4) Which audience interaction tools are essential (raise their hands, make facial expressions...)? 5) Do you want to share your screen or play videos? 6) Do you want to share files? 7) Do you wish to make the recording available for playback? (Li, 2014).

  • Skype
    • Skype for Business @ McGill: Instructors can create a session at any time (maximum of 250 connections). Includes desktop sharing. Recordings are stored on your computer. Students can also use Skype for Business for one-on-one or group discussions. 
  • Adobe Connect: Costs $ but supported at McGill (45 participants at one time)
  • Zoom: Costs $; Currently being used by McGill TLS.
  • Google Hangouts: Used often in e-learning for guest speakers and Q&A with experts.
  • YouTube Live events
  • AnyMeeting: Can have up to two hundred participants per conferencing session but there is no recording function or file sharing option (reviewed by Li, 2014).
  • FreeScreenSharing: Offers screen sharing and audio recording with conferencing for up to a thousand participants, but each has to install software (reviewed by Li, 2014).
  • MeetingBurner: Conferencing for a group of 10 and recording is not free but you can generate a customized URL (reviewed by Li, 2014).
  • BigBlueButton (open source)
  • Apache OpenMeetings (open source)
  • Join.me: Has a mobile app.
  • ooVoo: One-on-one and group (up to 12) video/voice calling, screen sharing, requires download (upgrade to Premium to remove ads).

Bottom of the page bonus (video)David Crystal - The Effect of New Technologies on English

Poll on the page

Would you recommend one of these conferencing tools over the others?
Skype: 0 votes (0%)
Adobe Connect: 1 votes (100%)
Zoom: 0 votes (0%)
Google Hangouts: 0 votes (0%)
YouTube live events: 0 votes (0%)
OpenMeetings: 0 votes (0%)
Total Votes: 1

Citations

See the full bibliography for works consulted.

Gabriel, M. A. "Chapter XI: Toward effective instruction in e-learning environments." In: Bullen, M., & Janes, D. P. (2007). Making the transition to e-learning: Strategies and issues. Hershey, PA: Information Science Pub.

Li, J. (2014). Greeting you online: Selecting web-based conferencing tools for instruction in e-learning mode. Journal of Library & Information Services in Distance Learning, 8(1-2), 56-66.

McGill LibraryQuestions? Ask us!
Privacy notice