Student-Driven Discussions in a Future of Blended Learning

The hybrid learning approach using Parlay.

How can Parlay help?

No matter what version of blended learning your school is pursuing, Parlay is ready to help teachers build a strong and engaging classroom community where students can flourish. Whether inside the classroom or in an online learning environment, Parlay gives teachers the tools they need to facilitate meaningful, measurable and inclusive student-driven discussions. 

These are the ways you can use Parlay at any stage of your blended learning classroom.

Blended learning activities.

1. In-Class Written Discussion

Parlay’s Online RoundTable is a great way to change up your classroom instruction from the traditional lecture format, to a student-centered approach. 

In this activity, teachers create a short discussion prompt for students to read and respond to on their devices during class time. After students submit their response, they take 15-20 minutes to read through and comment on their classmates’ ideas. Once the Online RoundTable has been completed and everyone has shared their ideas, the teacher can lead a class reflection on the summary data.

Tip! Secret identities can be used to make the discussion more engaging and inclusive. These discussions can start and end inside the classroom, or carry on outside class time for a truly blended learning experience.

2. Half Online, Half In-class, Written Discussion

Asynchronous written discussions are an integral part of online and blended learning. The Online RoundTable is designed to make this experience more inclusive, meaningful, and data-driven.

One of the most successful applications we have seen has been when teachers give students a few days to submit their response. This is done as homework and outside of class time. Once all students have submitted their reply to the prompt, everyone logs in together at the same time to provide comments and replies in real time. This approach gives students time to organize their ideas which can help maximize engagement in a synchronous environment. It also leaves for more class time to synchronously reflect on the discussion, where the teacher highlights key ideas and interactions from the discussion.

Tip: Have students prep for this activity by reviewing the 6 Pillars of Discussion which can help to remind students of the best practices for participating in a discussion.

Here are some more examples of how you can structure a written discussion in Parlay’s Online RoundTable.

3. In-Class Verbal Discussion

Parlay’s Live RoundTable is a great tool to teach students how to build on, challenge, and question each others’ ideas together inside the classroom. It makes it easy to ensure that everyone has the opportunity to participate, and it encourages students to be aware of the other students in the class who want to speak up. Teachers also have the tools to quietly encourage individual students to participate, run anonymous classroom polls, and assess/provide feedback to students. 

To use this tool in a blended learning environment, many teachers will start with an Online RoundTable from home as preparatory activity and then transition to a Live RoundTable during class. Teachers can focus on the same questions from the Online RoundTable, or ask extension questions to dive deeper! Check out this great example:

4. Online Verbal Discussion

Use Parlay’s Live RoundTable with the audio functionality turned on to encourage all students to participate in an online environment. Students can take notes during the discussion, click to indicate they’d like to speak, celebrate contributions by giving the hands up emoji, vote in class-wide polls and get nudges from the teacher to speak up. 

Summary Data helps the class debrief after the conversation to improve on skills for next time. Check out what teacher Lenny Dutton had to say about her virtual Live RoundTable experience.

Tip! Learn more about using Parlay’s audio features here.

Here are some more examples of how you can structure a verbal discussion using Parlay’s Live RoundTable.

Supporting teachers beyond tech.

Parlay supports teachers above and beyond simply providing a useful tool for student-driven discussions. Here are the ongoing services we provide to every teacher on Parlay:

  • Real-time chat support with an average response time of 2 minutes.
  • The Parlay Universe with over 3000 ready-made discussion topics.
  • Content Concierge our on-demand creation of discussion prompts aligned to teacher’s specific classroom requirements.
  • A growing library of resources like how-to guides and videos. 
  • 1:1 or group video support for demos, Q&A, and sharing best practices.

Our goal is to help make your blended learning classroom the best that it can be by supporting a variety of student-driven discussion activities that engage students in learning.

Round Up

For more on this topic check out 8 Ways to Use Parlay in Distance and Hybrid Learning.

If you have any questions make sure to reach out to us on our website, click the smiley face in the bottom right-hand corner. We look forward to hearing from you! Or find us on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram for more discussion-based tips.