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Facilitated Social Engagement

Facilitated Social Engagement

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Facilitated Social Engagement

Engaging socially is part of the joy of being a student. Replicating this in a digital world can be a challenge. Whilst you cannot force people to have fun or to engage, sometimes a facilitated approach, whereby you provide the structures or means to engage, is beneficial.

Social tasks

The social task can be a fun way to build relationships and make friendship groups that will support student social wellbeing, mental health, and ultimately each other. You can help facilitate this by setting a shared social goal for students to work towards, either through volunteers or by creating groups and setting them a task.

Some examples of these could be:

  • asking students to set up a virtual common room 
  • getting students to create study/reading groups 
  • tasking students with creating social quizzes outside of class

Quiz nights

Quizzes are easy ways to create a fun and engaging activity. Using a student rep or teacher as facilitator could be a great way to build relationships and get to know people outside of class. 

Movie watch-along

Over lockdown movie watch-alongs became popular where everyone watches the same movie synchronously and discusses it as they watch. You could create something similar with your students getting them to watch a particular film/programme via their own devices and simultaneously have a live chat via a Teams channel. This could be movie/programme linked to their studies or something purely social.

Case Study: US Election night Special

The Law school facilitated a watch along to cover the US election in November 2020. Participants were on zoom chatting about the events while watching on various sources and news outlets to get a better spread of data and opinions on what was happening. It is worth pointing out online etiquette again and respecting others points of view.

Book club

Similar to the movie watch-along, a book club is a great way to make connections and friends with common interests. This could be study-related or something completely different. Nominate a student or ask for a volunteer to create the book club through Teams or a platform of their choosing. You could suggest the first title and then get the students to select their own from then on. You could help further facilitate by suggesting a structure for meeting (e.g. once a week) for discussions and maybe even sitting in on the first one to help students to understand how to host a book club.

Music club

Review new releases, having album listen alongor even a festival club is a great way to find people with similar interests. Students could do this by using the teams chat function to discuss a new release or if they are listening to a piece of music they could use the chat function a bit like twitter to either discuss the music or talk about any live experiences for that piece of music. 

Virtual common rooms

Common rooms are inclusive spaces open to anyone from the school. Students may wish to create a virtual common room where they can meet with fellow students and may ask for suggestions of platforms in which they could host this. There are lots of platforms in which you could use create a virtual common room:

Teams

Create a Teams site that you add all students to. Create separate channels for different aspects of the common room e.g. virtual café, general chat, noticeboards etc. For more information on building a learning community on Teams see the 365 Learning Pathways guide.

Canvas

Create a Canvas Big Blue Button conference room into which students can drop in at any point or specified points during the day/week.

External platforms 

Proximity-based applications like GatherTownWonder, and Remo where you move yourself closer to a group to join a conversation mimic real social spaces in that you can drift in and out of conversations like you would in a physical environment. They can be customised to create your own unique virtual space. Bear in mind the university guidelines for unsupported software.