Teaching & Learning

Facilitating communication between students

Students siting around a table and working on laptops 

Peer to Peer Interactions

Whether your unit's delivery mode is online or on campus, it is important to provide spaces and support for peer-to-peer interaction within MyLO, using tools such as Online Rooms, Discussions, ePortfolio, and Wiggio. 

These spaces can be managed by you, with their use restricted to specified learning activities and/or groups of students. Alternatively, opening up these spaces for students to use outside of directed learning activities is a useful option that will support student learning, as well as the development of a community of learners within your unit. 

It may be valuable to use one or more of these tools or spaces for a learning activity, supporting students to understand how it can be used for peer interaction, and then maintaining the space to enable continued interactions as managed by the students themselves.

Example: Asynchronous sharing and feedback with ePortfolio

Run a learning activity in week 1 or 2 where students are assigned a text to respond to using their ePortfolio (students are free to choose the format of their response). Students are asked to share their response with the other members of the class, and to comment on (provide feedback about) at least two classmates' responses as shared by them.

This activity will help students to understand how to share their ePortfolio items with other UTAS students in order to get feedback (in a more private way than through Discussions). When students are working on assessment tasks, you might remind them that they can use the ePortfolio to offer and receive feedback on their drafts.

Example: Synchronous interaction in Online Rooms (web conferencing)

In a unit with a group presentation assessment, it would be useful to run a session using an Online Room to explain and respond to questions about the task. 

Following this session, create an Online Room for each group which they can then use to meet, to practice their presentation with and without an audience, to record and watch back their presentation etc.

While it is possible, and oftentimes likely, that students in your unit will utilise other real and virtual spaces and tools to interact with one another, providing all students with access to interactive spaces within your unit's MyLO site will enhance their experiences in your unit, is likely to increase their sense of engagement with the learning in your unit, and will improve the likelihood of developing a real community of learning for you and your students.

Restricted vs Open access to interactive spaces for students

Restricting access to certain sharing spaces, such as Discussion Forums and Topics to particular groups or cohorts, can be advantageous when managing some learning activities and experiences or assessment tasks. For units with multiple student cohorts, however, it is useful to keep in mind that providing spaces for online and on-campus students, or second and third year students, or Arts and Science students, for example, to exchange ideas and information is likely to enhance the experiences of all of them. It may be that a balance between restricted and open spaces works best in your unit.

Peer interactions and learning activities

For more ideas about learning activities that involve peer to peer interactions, see the Learning Activities page on this site.

For more information about setting up ePortfolio activities, Online Rooms etc, see the Teaching Online in MyLO site, or search for Desktop Guides using the University Repositories.