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Having a chat open during class can be a valuable way to get student input and questions, especially from students who are normally hesitant to raise their hands or speak up in front of the class. The following are the tools LTC recommends for various chat needs.
If you want to have a single channel that all students to go for class chat; similar to what a Zoom session provides:
The native chat tool in Canvas will give you a single, easy-to-locate channel that students are automatically signed into and can access at any time.
Google Chat is free for all instructors and students to use, and integrated with MCommunities. This makes it easy to open a chat for the whole class by using your class’ MComm address. Students will need to be signed in to Google with their umich.edu address to use this.
If you want to have a chat forum with multiple chat channels for different groups or topics happening simultaneously, that students can move among at will, as if moving from group to group in a classroom:
The Slack chat platform offers the ability to create multiple chat channels for your class. Slack does not yet integrate with MCommunity or Canvas.
The MS Teams platform offers the ability to create multiple chat channels for your class. The functionality of this platform is very similar to Slack. Teams chat integrates with MCommunity; you can find directions for creating a “Team” for your class here. Full integration with Canvas is coming in Fall of 2021. Students will need to be signed into Office 365 with their umich.edu address to use this until the Canvas integration is complete.
This approach is recommended for asynchronous activities, as the tools do not automatically update in real-time. If you want to have the class chat work as a structured question-and-answer forum, in which questions are all visible at the top level with answers nested ‘under’ or ‘inside’ the question:
The Q&A board option, within Harmonize, provides a list view of questions which can be clicked on to add or read answers. This option is recommended for users new to Q&A, due to the ease of set-up.
Piazza provides boards with a list view of questions which can be clicked on to add or read answers. Piazza is only recommended for those already familiar with it, as the set-up process has a significant learning curve.
If you need students to be able to easily find a specific day or class period’s chat session, perhaps for review as they study for exams:
The Bulletin provides a single stream of live-updating posts, similar to Canvas Chat but with additional ability to insert links, images, or videos. The Bulletin also allows ‘bookmarking’ of specific points, and a list of those bookmarks for easy navigation back to particular dates or topics. If you are interested in this functionality, please contact LTC at LSATSLearningTeachingConsultants@umich.edu.
If you’d like to discuss how best to use any of these chat tools in your courses, please feel free to request a consultation with the LSA Learning and Teaching Consultants.