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.

Good Practices

Take a strategic approach to create a course community that helps students work together and learn from each other.
Instructors can create course sites that are both usable and accessible to the widest range of students possible by organizing their course site with a landing page, modules, and a limited menu, plus following other
Challenge Working in small groups on activities and assignments can be beneficial even for "routine" tasks, as students have the opportunity to learn from and help one another.
Instructors often use classroom discussions to promote sharing and ideas about a subject matter. Sometimes, discussions can become rote and tedious, or engage only one or a few students and the instructor.
If you plan to use online exams with Proctorio settings to assess and evaluate student learning, please be aware that the Proctorio tool may cause problems for international users.
Challenge Creating videos for courses is time intensive and the process of creating, publishing and sharing your media with students can be overwhelming.
Challenge When using pre-assigned breakout rooms, specific guidelines must be followed to ensure students are routed to their designated Zoom breakout rooms.
Challenge Using Zoom to meet with your students in real-time offers continuity and an opportunity to stay connected.


Content chunking, for instructional design, is the strategy of breaking up content into shorter, bite-size pieces that are more manageable and easier to remember.
In a recent study, researchers identified the design factors that were most valued by participants in terms of promoting an engaging online learning experience.
The best discussions keep everyone active, either by sharing or thinking. Even those students who rarely, if ever, contribute can still participate in other ways.
This presentation will introduce a rubric-based method of auditing online courses for their maturity on three dimensions of development. 
Building branched scenarios with your rapid elearning tools is actually pretty easy to do.  These tutorials shows you how to do so.
Chunking is a concept embedded in the world of instructional and information design.
This source is an example of a branching scenario that provides practice in cultural awareness for noncommissioned officers.
The central message of this book is that there ways of creating learning experiences that can sufficiently impact the outcomes for students and instructors.
This is an example of a branching scenario that provides methods for dealing with office issues.
Chunking is a concept that originates from the field of cognitive psychology.
The key is to design tasks that are truly collaborative, meaning the students will benefit more from doing the activity as a group than doing it alone.
Presence is the most important best practice for an online course. Learn techniques to establish instructor presence.
To be effective, online curricula illustrating communication behaviors need face-to-face interaction, individual role play with feedback and discussion.
Access group work resources from this past Educause concurrent session.
Library Media Services provides comprehensive course support for the integration of media assignments into teaching and publishes related case studies.
Online discussions are a great tool to extend classroom conversations and learning by getting students to engage with class material online.
The use of discussion forums as a vehicle for learning is based on the pedagogical tenets of collaborative learning theory, which call for collaboration between participants, experimentation, and open inquiry.
The Office of eLearning provides faculty and staff support for Quality Matters,
This source provides samples of branching scenarios for different professions.
Tips and tricks to help you record quality videos with your smartphone.
Student media assignments engage students in course content and provide opportunities for reflection and deeper learning. See examples from the College of Education + Human Development.
A resource for students who are assigned group work for their courses.
The College of Education and Human Development (CEHD) created this checklist to help instructors create effective online courses.
Learn how to set up a branching scenario properly, no matter what tool you decide to develop it in.
When should you go to the trouble of designing a branching scenario? See some examples.

User Stories

Why capture a guest expert lecture or presentation on video?
The College of Biological Sciences (CBS) and their Academic Technology team are one of the first units this summer to start the adoption of Canvas at the University of Minnesota.
The College of Food, Agriculture and Natural Resource Sciences (CFANS) is making a big move from Moodle to Canvas this spring. Along the way, they are finding things to learn and like about the new platform.
The benefits of student group work are well documented:
Demonstration videos help students learn because they can both see and hear the proper way to do things at every step.
With one of the biggest jumps in Canvas usage from fall to spring semester, The University of Minnesota Crookston is taking big steps towards the full adoption of Canvas.