Communicating OnlineCommunicating Online
Communicating with others online is a critical component of learning online. Interacting with others is essential as your ideas develop and your skills progress. Outside of email there are a number of applications that will help you leverage the expertise of faculty and the experience of your classmates.
This section will provide a number of quick introductions that you can use to help get you started.
Asynchronous online discussions are one of the most common and convenient methods of instructor-student, student-instructor and student-student interactions.
Canvas provides a discussion tool for whole class or group interactions. Communication can take place via text, video or audio within the tool. You can also embed media such as images or online videos. Here a few tips and links to the Canvas resources to make the most of the Canvas discussions.
- Make a discussion post: In a Canvas discussion create new posts by selecting 'reply'.
- Subscribe to a discussion: By subscribing to a discussion you receive updates on the activity within the forum via email or text messaging. You can set your notification preferences.
- Upload a screen capture to a post: There are times where you may need to share something on your screen in order to ask or answer a question. This page will show you how to take a screen capture on your computer and upload it to a Canvas discussion.
Online class discussions are improving with Piazza! Your instructor may have elected to use Piazza for holding class discussions, question and answer forums, or group work. The Piazza communication tool offers a robust interface for your coursework. Below are some tips and illustrations to help you quickly familiarize yourself with the interface and get started using Piazza!
Piazza offers many great features for students and instructors. Below are some key features that set Piazza apart from other discussion methods you may have used before:
- Piazza has a free app available for mobile devices both for iOS and Android!
- Keep up with discussions while you're on-the-go!
- Folders, tags, and an easy-to-use search function help to keep the discussions organized.
- You can find a question faster!
- Questions can have a single answer with many student contributors using the "wiki" style "Student Answer".
- Less scrolling through nested responses!
- Mathematical concepts can be easily added to questions and answers using the built-in LaTeX equation editor.
- Can't figure out where you went wrong? Type your problem out in an easy-to-read digital format!
- Anonymous posting allows shy students to post questions for help.
- Don't be embarrassed! Ask your question to other students anonymously!
- Piazza is integrated with Canvas so you never have to leave your course.
Use the image below to get a sense of the look and feel of Piazza discussions. The images highlight some icons that will make searching through discussion posts easier and faster. If you don't see a question that you are looking for, you can search for it directly or post a new question!
Participating in an online class is easy with Piazza. The Piazza website has demo classes set up so that you can see how it works. Head over to the Piazza website and check it out!
The Piazza website also has a great support area if you are unsure how to use Piazza!
Video ConferencingVideo Conferencing
There are times in the online courses where live video conference sessions are held. Tutoring, whole class reviews, faculty virtual office hours or group meetings are just a few of the use cases for video conferencing. Penn State provides the video conferencing tool Zoom free to all Penn State students, faculty and staff.
Zoom is an online service that will allow you to hold HD online meetings with others. You can either hold a Video Meeting, which uses your webcam as the focal point, or a Shared Screen Meeting, which allows you to select your desktop or a single application, such as Microsoft PowerPoint, as the focal point of the meeting.
Zoom also allows you to easily record and share a presentation from within a meeting. Zoom recordings are automatically sent to your Kaltura media page. The recordings can also be played directly from the Zoom cloud recording, complete with auto transcription.
The following resources will get you started!