Compare Options for Holding Online Small Group Discussions

You can use a variety of tools for online small group discussions. We have outlined solutions, rated them for the effort required, and identified key considerations.

Challenge

As a student, faculty, or staff member, how can I communicate with a small group online?

Solutions

You can use a variety of tools for online small group discussions. We have outlined solutions, rated them for effort required, and identified key considerations.

photograph of two laptops

Canvas Discussions

Canvas provides an integrated system for class discussions, allowing both instructors and students to start and contribute to as many discussion topics as desired. Discussions allow for interactive communication between two or more people; users can participate in a conversation with an entire class or group.

Effort Required

Low

Key Considerations

  • Discussions can be graded or ungraded
  • Variety of options to customize the discussion

G Suite Apps

Create documents in this collaborative tool that enables group editing, commenting, and chat.

Effort Required

Low

Key Considerations

  • Standard word processing functions
  • Synchronous or asynchronous
  • Built-in chat functionality

Google Hangouts

Send instant messages or start a video chat with up to 25 people.

Effort Required

Medium

Key Considerations

  • Easily start meetings from Gmail or Google Calendar
  • Invite guests to video chat; no Google account required
  • Share your screen
  • Not available to all Academic Health Center (AHC) & Health Care Component (HCC) users

Zoom

Effort Required

Low

Key Considerations

  • An accessible interface
  • Automatic captioning
  • Breakout rooms
  • Polls and chat