Teachers who use Learning Management Systems often facilitate online discussions as part of their classroom routine. While it can take time to support students in developing the skills to have effective, rich discussions that lead to deep learning, they can be rewarding. Suggestions include co-creating the success criteria for online discussion with students. A gradual release of responsibility model can also be used where teachers write comments and responses as a class, then in small groups or partners before doing it individually. Each step should be reflected on and compared to the success criteria. Students do not automatically know how to have rich, deep conversations online to support their learning.

Combining face-to-face classroom discussions with online discussions can empower all students to participate and think deeply. Resources such as Making Room for Talk (found at edugains.ca) can be used to support teachers making the conversation in class (face-to-face and online) accountable.

Online discussions can be held through a Learning Management System (the Provincial vLE, Edmodo, Google Classroom, Moodle, etc.) or they can be done using tools specifically just for online discussions.

There are many tools for online discussions. A few are listed below.



Safety Considerations


Google Groups (GAFE)

  • online discussion forums  

  • if you have Google Apps for Education (GAFE), students already have log ins

  • works on: laptops, chromebooks, iPads, tablets

  • ask school/board contact for access info if you have GAFE

  • if not using school GAFE accounts, age limit is 13 for a Google account

Google Groups Help


  • an online chat (for immediate chats during class time)

  • settings decided by teacher - no login required by students if desired

  • very quick to set up

  • works on: laptops, chromebooks, iPads, tablets, phones

  • great for sharing questions, inquiries, ideas during short video clips or discussions in class

  • open to others outside of the classroom if someone shares the link



  • online discussion forums

  • closed environment (password protected)

  • works on: laptops, chromebooks, iPads

  • created for education, students can use nicknames or alias’ - little opportunity for personal information to be shared, if students guided correctly