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Foster Active Participation 

Active participation in a remote classroom environment must be guided and fostered through prompted activities, scaffolded milestones, and opportunities to apply and build new knowledge. Providing students with the opportunity to collaborate with their peers, bring perspective to specific concepts, and support one another in reaching the learning goals will encourage active learning and keep students engaged in the learning process.


Create an Engaging Discussion Forum

Threaded Discussion Forums in Canvas are open message boards in which students can leave a comment/response and expect to see other students' responses. Discussion Forums can facilitate asynchronous engagement allowing students to thoughtfully reply to the prompt and respond to each other at their own time.

Your discussion prompt will heavily guide your students' participation and the expectations you set will heavily influence the content your students post.


Your discussion prompt will really help the students think critically about the course content and engage with what they've just learned in the text or in lecture. You can connect your discussions back to specific topics, perspectives, key concepts, or targeted areas by asking students to reflect, respond, and apply the information in context. 


Student motivational pulls and experiences in the course can vary, which is why having various options, perspectives, topics, or concepts to choose from can really allow the students to have some individualism and choice.

You can do this in a variety of ways:

  • Options: Provide more than one question to choose from
  • Debate: Ask students to pick a side, and argue for or against
  • Roles: Ask students to choose a "role" or a "perspective" and respond from that perspective 


Include an open-ended question that asks the students to reflect on the reading, topics from lecture, practice items, etc. and share what they found interesting or challenging. This gives students room to be authentic in the way they share and communicate with their classmates. They will also be able to read each others' responses and relate to one another in that way. This helps to foster community and engagement on a more personal and authentic level.


Outside of the text-discussion format, you might consider giving your students creative freedom to record a video discussion or create an artboard/illustration in response to the prompts. Students can upload the media files directly into the discussion thread for others to see. 


Discussion Boards are a highly visible form of digital communication, making it extremely important that you provide some guidelines for participation. This reminder is helpful at the beginning of the course, and frequent reminders might also help if you see students violating your guidelines for community. For further engagement, you can also suggest that students respond to at least one or two other classmates. Putting this guidelines in the instructions sets the expectations very clearly for your students.


  • Treat your classmates with respect.
  • Be thoughtful and open in discussion.
  • Be aware and sensitive to different perspectives.
  • Build one another up and encourage one another to succeed.


  • Use insulting, condescending, or abusive words.
  • Use all capital letters, which comes across as SHOUTING.
  • Contact other students or post advertisements and solicitations.
  • Post copyrighted material.


See How Do I Create a Discussion?

See How Do I Reply to a Discussion?


Additional Resources

Baker, D.L. (2011). Designing and orchestrating online discussions. MERLOT Journal of Online Learning and Teaching, 7(3), 401-411.

Facilitate Peer Review Assignments

Peer Review assignments in Canvas are asynchronous formative assessments that engage students in the review and coaching of their classmates' work. A Peer Review assignment not only allows students to constructively evaluate their classmates' work, it also allows them opportunity to self-assess and evaluate their own understanding of the criteria and what's relevant.

Peer Reviews in Canvas are asynchronous because students can submit their original work on their own time (up to the given due date). Students can then review their peers' work at their own pace, given the guidelines and criteria.

Purpose of Peer Review

Peer Review assignments are intended for students to help each other improve, rather than judge each others' work.

Constructive Feedback

Peer Review assignments teach students how to practice constructive feedback, use affirming words that point others to the goal of improvement, and address specific criteria for development.

Give some examples of constructive phrases and nonconstructive phrases.

  • Nonconstructive: "I don't understand the point you are making here."
  • Constructive:  "Clarify this with some examples from the text." 

Criteria for Review

Provide students with very clear guidelines and specific criteria to review. A rubric can be helpful here to organize the criteria and define the characteristics to look for.

Peer Review Assignments are considered formative because they allow the students to gain feedback from their peers before improving their assignment for a final submission, to be graded by the instructional team.

To further apply the peer review method for your students, include in your Final Assignment prompt a section in which students reflect on the constructive feedback and explain how they incorporated their peers' comments into their final product.

Tools: You can create a Peer Review assignment using the Canvas Assignment tool. You can also manually group the students or automate the peer review grouping.


Additional Resources

Gonca, Y. and Ecksi, G. (2017). Peer review versus teacher feedback in process writing: How effective? IJAES. 13(1).

Options for Taking Attendance

The way in which you take attendance sends a message about what you think is the purpose for being in class. Usually, we count physical presence; however, remote instruction offers us an opportunity to rethink what we believe is essential for our students to learn in our classes. So, before going on to any of the suggestions below, you might want to ask: “What is the most important thing I want all of my students to get out of this class and why is attendance important/essential to their learning?”

Continue reading Engaged Teaching Hub’s, Teaching & Learning Commons’ Options for Taking Attendance and Engaging Students During Remote Instruction for new ideas on how to take attendance.

Collaborate on Documents and Meet Virtually

There are several collaborative tools that will allow your students to engage in real time. For small group work, in which students need to collaborate with one another, make in-line comments and suggestions, make real-time edits, or be in the same digital space at the same time, you can remind them to use these campus-supported tools:


Google Collaborations: Docs, Sheets, Slides

Depending on the kind of activity your students will work on, you can create collaborative documents, spreadsheets, or presentations for your students to edit and view in real-time. You can link these into your Canvas course using Collaborations.

Zoom for small group meetups

If students need to meet virtually to discuss a group project, they can use the Zoom video conferencing tool to set up a meeting. Students can follow the same steps for How to Get Started with Zoom.


✐📓 Put students in small groups and ask them to collaboratively take notes on the homework and lectures. You can use a Google Document to keep track of who is contributing. Not only will you be helping your students develop valuable soft skills of teamwork, collaboration, and professionalism, you will be giving your students a chance to be a resource to each other.


Ash, S. L., Clayton, P. H., & Atkinson, M. P. (2005). Integrating reflection and assessment to capture and improve student learning. Michigan Journal of Community Service Learning, 11(2), 49-60.

Ash, S. L., & Clayton, P. H. (2009). Generating, deepening, and documenting learning: The power of critical reflection in applied learning.

Dobson, J. L. (2008). The use of formative online quizzes to enhance class preparation and scores on summative exams. Advances in Physiology Education, 32(4), 297-302.

Ong, R. (2000). The role of reflection in student learning: A study of its effectiveness in complementing problem-based learning environments. Centre for Educational Development.

Porter, L., Bailey Lee, C., & Simon, B. (2013, March). Halving fail rates using peer instruction: a study of four computer science courses. In Proceeding of the 44th ACM technical symposium on Computer science education (pp. 177-182).

Simon, B., & Cutts, Q. (2012). Peer instruction: A teaching method to foster deep understanding. Communications of the ACM, 55(2), 27-29.