There are tons – here are just a few!
- Chat. Some instructors dislike the “chat” function and dismiss it as a distraction. However, it can become a lively forum for side conversations and comments. It’s also a great way for quiet students, or students who are struggling, to participate. Some instructors have found such “backchannel chat” to be a transformative element in their classrooms.*
- Google Meet “Nod” Chrome Extension. This Chrome extension allows students to post emojis to indicate their reactions to things others are saying. You can download the Nod extension here. Note that people will have to leave the Meet and come back for the extension to work if they install it during a Meet.
- Games. Games can be a great way to build community among students – or at any meeting. (C’mon, we’ve all played Collaborative Bingo.) In one such game, “the rock”, a secret code word related to the class content is chosen by the students. Every time the word is mentioned during class, the students do a coordinated move, like scratching their heads or high-fiving the side of the screen (or contributing something specific to the chat if the student is on audio). The goal is for the instructor to figure out what the code word is. A nice bonus of this game is that you can use it to assess engagement – if students respond to the code word, you know they’re paying attention to the discussion.
Of course, don’t forget to wrap up the semester on a high note by bringing your classroom community together to tie together all that you’ve learned.
* Chat is getting a lot of attention these days for its community-building and introvert-supporting capacities. See https://www.edutopia.org/blog/backchannel-student-voice-blended-classroom-beth-holland and https://community.chronicle.com/news/2367-turns-out-you-can-build-community-in-a-zoom-classroom?cid=VTEVPMSED1.