7 Free Online Discussion Tools to Engage Your Students

What are the things you do as a teacher to maintain student engagement? Empowering students in remote learning involves sustaining their engagement and increasing their interactive abilities. And it’s never easy.

However, the online world has provided a repository of free online discussion tools to engage your students. You just have to use the most relevant ones that can fuel student engagement and increase student performance.

kids using tab for online learning

Photo by stem.T4L on Unsplash

_______________

<<<You might be looking for the best apps and tools to enhance student learning? Look at our favorites below!

Click Here to Learn More--->

_______________

One of the most challenging things in online learning is to make students participative in the discussion. Have you ever asked your students’ opinion about the topic presented and all you heard was silence even though you were telling them to unmute their microphone? Or would some say they got disconnected all of a sudden? It can be frustrating. How can we meet their needs in a virtual space?

The good news is that there are free online discussion tools to engage your students that are very accessible and beginner-friendly. Using them in your virtual classes is a strong manifestation that you are indeed looking for great ways to encourage your students to share their ideas in a very interesting way.

These free online discussion tools fuel your tank of pedagogies to ignite student participation. So, if you are into making the most of remote learning through online discussion tools, you have come to the right place. Hopefully, with these tools, you can conveniently enhance student engagement in remote learning.

Free Online Discussion Tools to Engage Your Students

1. Dotstorming

If you want to promote interactive discussions and brainstorming activities in real-time, then, using Dotstorming is a great option. It’s a great tool for both asynchronous and synchronous learning, hence it’s a versatile tool that I can best recommend.

Dotstorming is a reliable app that helps students share their ideas and make themselves heard without getting intimidated by the presence of everyone. Using this app allows students to make comments, present their ideas, add images, express thoughts, rank concepts, and many more.

Plus, if you really aim for great interaction in your virtual class from the motivational activities to the assessment phase, Dotstorming helps you to execute your plan. Your students will just key in their messages, ideas, and their decisions, making “Dotstorming” a perfect app for brainstorming and collaboration.

Its cost is free. All you have to do is create an account, log in, and share the link with your students without requiring them to create their own accounts. It’s super convenient to use and highly effective to engage your students.

Have you decided to try it now? Make it here!

2. Padlet

When school closures were extended, I came to know the use of Padlet for collaboration. It’s another free online discussion tool that’s very handy, opportune, and accessible. All you have to do is create your account and navigate the whole thing for collaboration. Using this electronic pinboard to host your collaborative activities essentially engages your students without feeling timid about their ideas and beliefs.

The Padlet wall is one great way to gather your students’ views as they can freely express their thoughts on this digital wall whether asynchronous or synchronous sessions. Furthermore, this collaborative digital space allows students to add images, relevant videos, and text anonymously. They can also make comments or react to their classmates’ posts. Just navigate to settings. Make it accessible and allow them to edit.

Plus, this discussion tool offers impressive designs and backgrounds that really look cool and decent on-screen. Or you can choose your own background through the web browser and make your Padlet wall looks appealing and attractive. Post your questions or interactive statements and share the link with your students.

Padlet is an ideal discussion tool to offer countless opportunities for students to communicate, collaborate, explain, compose, decide,  and many more 21st-century skills really worth harnessing.

You can either download the app or navigate to the tool using your browser.

3. Google Docs

Another way for students to collaborate and get engaged is by using Google docs where they can share their ideas, edit their answers, and interact with one another. Support your brainstorming activities with this Google tool and highly impact student participation.

Moreover, as discussions grow by and by, you can organize Google documents by creating and naming folders accordingly in Google drive.  Absorbingly, to develop the language fluency and writing skills of your students, you may encourage all of your students to key in their answers.

Further, this not only hones their communication skills but also perfects their abilities to create sensible dialogues. This brings them in closer proximity to high levels of engagement until sharing their ideas through Google docs just flows out naturally.

Best of all, Google docs extremely sustain collaboration in group activities where students work together on a certain task or project by sharing their concepts and research. If some of your students haven’t experienced editing their answers, collaborating on a virtual sheet, and navigating Google tools, you can guide them initially or have them watch Google video tutorials.

4. Discord

Here’s another virtual space where you can discuss things with your students and enhance their confidence in expressing their views. You can download the app for Windows or open it in your browser to establish a server for your virtual class.

When schools opt for distance learning to continue quality education, teachers have to find ways to sustain student engagement in a new learning environment in order for students to flourish.  One way to do it is by fostering a community in the virtual classroom. Discord is a great app to create virtual hangouts for your class conversations and activities.

This pandemic challenges all of us teachers to find a place to connect with our students in the most accessible manner. Interestingly, Discord is a discussion tool, free to use, and is ready to accommodate your collaboration plans so your students will continue learning and make the most of the new normal setting in education.

Best of all, Discord offers voice channels for your group or one-on-one discussions and text channels for your learning materials. Most importantly, you can share your screen with up to 50 students at any given time.

Are you interested in trying this collaborative tool? Click here.

a girl enjoys online learning

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

5. Flipgrid

Creating brand new learning experiences for your students using Flipgrid is an incredible way to have them stay connected. It offers video recording features that allow students to create their own video presentations as creative assessments.

Doing so can increase students’ participation which highly impacts self-assessment that hones their esteem. In fact, using this tool in my virtual classroom encourages my students to speak and share their ideas.

One great example was when I used it in my storytelling activities during the English month. It was indeed so fun that my students got excited to share their pieces with the class.

Their narratives and actions did tell me that Flipgrid was really a perfect option for virtual learning.  In a sense, it enhances my student’s fluency in the English language knowing that we are not native speakers.

Empowering your young learners can be made easier through the very accessible Flipgrid. With this discussion tool, you can encourage your students to take ownership of their learning by exploring lesson content, discovering concepts, and increasing their performance.

Join the Flipgrid community with a breeze to create your free educator account. You can either sign up with your Google or Microsoft account. On the other hand, this app is super convenient for students too. They’ll just enter the join code and bingo, they’re on it!

Click here to create your educator account.

6. Piazza

Piazza is another online discussion tool that can magnify the community in your virtual space and earn the best participation of your students. It’s a Q&A platform that encourages students to explore content and express their ideas which resemble in-person classes. Plus, it amplifies immense student engagement and heightens student participation.

Hence, more and more educators all over the world are using Piazza for their classrooms because it’s instinctive and streamlined. It highlights Wiki mode configuration that allows students to create sensible answers while eliminating irrelevant ones in the virtual board. For real-time discussions, Piazza enables students to edit their answers until a highly credible answer is achieved.

Piazza also supports taking polls and crafting content through its text channel that allows students to write codes, symbols, and equations. Users can also edit text, upload images, embed videos, and share files quickly.

Best of all, Piazza also gives the best chance to shy students to give their answers anonymously. And if you are into honing their confidence, you can indicate right away that he or she got the correct answer.

In a way, it’s a great way to make underperforming students or the bashful ones participate and be heard. Doing so will help them develop self-confidence and communication skills.

Do you want to get started? Create your account here.

7. Nearpod

Have you tried integrating Nearpod discussion into your Google classroom? How was it? Have you created more interactive and engaging learning experiences for your students? If your answer is a solid “Yes,” then Nearpod deserves to be on this list of free online discussion tools.

If you haven’t tried it, learn it here.

Using Nearpod in your lessons means your having an interactive class. It allows you to make creative formative assessments through gamified quizzes and make engaging lessons through simulations. Definitely, Nearpod helps you meet where your students are by giving you distinctive options to give the best lesson presentations.

With Nearpod you can freely accommodate your own resources like PowerPoint presentations, videos, and Google Slides. Plus, you can directly add a relevant YouTube video to your presentation and insert media as well as a formative assessment. Then, you add questions to make it more engaging and interactive.

The best thing about it is that you can present your creative lessons through live participation where students either in person or remotely through web conferencing. Also, you can initiate your lessons in a student-paced mode where students are navigating the content on their own, exercising full autonomy. This can be done in a physical classroom or through homeschooling.

Excitingly, when in-person classes are permissible again, you can launch your lessons in front of your students and have them participate. The use of enriching media in interactive presentations unleashes students’ interests and makes your class engaging.

If you are unable to create your own lesson presentations, Nearpod offers you inspiring supplements through its library of ready-made content. You can customize the presentation to accommodate your student’s needs or you utilize pre-designed lessons as they are.

Join the Nearpod community here and create many engaging learning opportunities for your students.

Conclusion

Collaboration in learning highly impacts student performance. Using free online discussion tools to engage your students, hopefully, ignites more of your passion to make a difference in your student’s academic success and in his/her totality.

I believe that sans are dull people as long as one is eager to learn and there is somebody who is willing to teach unconditionally. And it should be one of your concerns to know if all of your students are technology inclined so no one will be left behind and all your students play a greater role in their education.

Using the free online discussion tools is a way of unlocking your student’s higher-order thinking skills which are in support of developing 21st-century skills. They foster community and magnify student involvement.

Have I missed something? Feel free to share online discussion tools that robust student interaction and teacher-student connection. Let’s work together so no students will fall behind.  Leave your thoughts below.

Leave a Reply

CommentLuv badge