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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.


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.
  • Booking software that offers a personalized scheduling page (integrates with pages, such as LibGuides).

Peer support

  • PeerWise: Repository of multiple-choice questions that are created, answered, rated and discussed by students. Freely available and instructors can request an account (information for instructors).
  • iPeer: Open source software developed at the Centre for Teaching, Learning and Technology at UBC for peer evaluation.
  • VocalEyes: For group decision making.
  • Eduflow (formerly Peergrade): Facilitates peer feedback (free option for instructors)

Group discussions

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


  • Skype
    • With Skype for Business, McGill staff and students can see availability and use instant messaging through Outlook Web App or using the Skype for Business mobile app.
  • NOTE: TodaysMeet has shutdown after 10 years.

Voice boards

Voiceboards are synchronous audio online discussions.

Social media



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).

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 (7.14%)
Zoom: 13 votes (92.86%)
Google Hangouts: 0 votes (0%)
YouTube live events: 0 votes (0%)
OpenMeetings: 0 votes (0%)
Total Votes: 14


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.

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