17 Student-to-Student

We are all social creatures. One of the most important soft skills that students learn in university is how to interact with their peers in both professional and personal contexts. Students often look to their peers to establish social norms, and often particularly value the feedback and judgments of their peers. Since online courses separate the students physically from one another, we need to work harder to bring the students back together to create an online learning community. For online learners to be fully engaged, they need to feel like they are participating in something that extends beyond themselves.


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Read a great summary of peer-to-peer interactions that increase student engagement from the Centre for Instructional Technology and Training at the University of Florida. Peer-to-peer engagement can and should be centred in peer learning. When learning becomes collaborative, it becomes something that happens between students. We can’t rely on students to do this on their own. Collaboration needs to be meaningful and to deepen the learning experience. If possible, students should have multiple ways to interact with each other in order to create meaningful connections among them.

Student-to-Student Strategies

  • Take advantage of online collaboration spaces like Zoom, Blackboard Collaborate and Microsoft Teams.
  • Incorporate collaboration software into group work projects (e.g. OneNote, Planner, OneDrive)
  • Create online discussion forums around open-ended questions
  • Include group work
  • Use icebreakers and create a virtual space for introductions
  • Create a central learning place where students go each week that includes a space where they can see their learning and their peers’ learning (e.g. OneNote, Moodle)
  • Set clear rules for how students are expected to communicate with each other in online discussions
  • Engage in multiple opportunities for peer feedback

Your Engagement Strategy


Download the Engagment Strategy Template to write out the three components of your engagement strategy.

Guiding Questions

  • How are you going to present material in your course? Is there a way to make passive learning into active learning?
  • How will the instructor of your course show students they are present?
  • When do students get to collaborate? What components of the course allow them to work together?



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