Tools Designed to Get Students Discussing

Use Harmonize to encourage more frequent and thoughtful engagement in online courses

Getting students to engage online might feel impossible…

Harmonize makes it a cinch.

Increase student engagement

Harmonize shows students and instructors everything that’s happening, at a glance. As a result, it’s easy for students to discover content and for instructors to monitor student engagement. Reactions and tagging make collaborating in online discussions feel easy and natural for students.

Keep students on the ball by providing more structure

Milestones, or multiple due dates, help students remember deadlines and engage now instead of at the last minute. Use them to set clear expectations, remind students of approaching due dates, and pull them back into the conversation.

Chat and polls

Increase interactions between students and instructors

Encourage more vibrant and frequent interactions by giving every student a pathway to participation. Use annotations to provide richer feedback and facilitate peer-to-peer learning. Instructors can also spark new conversations using chat, polls, and Q&A boards.

These features are designed to maximize student engagement. And they do.

Grid view

Gauge student engagement at a glance. The Harmonize layout makes it easy to see which conversations have the most engagement and what students are saying.

flag icon Milestones

Lend structure to your course experience. Milestones help students see what’s expected of them, and when, so they make substantive, on-time contributions.

rich multimedia icon Rich multimedia

Why should students only be able to post text? Harmonize supports video, images, audio, and embedded URLs, so students can finally express themselves.

Q&A Boards icon Q&A

Let students answer each others’ questions. Leave Q&A boards up all term to avoid repeated questions and help students share information in one place.

polls icon Annotations

Adding annotations to content promotes peer-to-peer learning, richer instructor feedback, and deeper engagement with course material.

reactions & tagging icon Tagging

Pull students into the conversation by tagging them directly. Students and instructors have the ability to tag anybody in the class.


Keep students on task and help them meet deadlines with notifications. Add a custom notification for the whole class or individual students.

chat bubble icon Chat

Using Harmonize Chat, instructors and students can communicate in real time. It’s easy for students to see which classmates are online and begin a new chat.


Use polls to gauge understanding, assess students, or review content. You can even use a poll to take attendance. Run a poll on its own or add it to any discussion.


Students can use emojis to respond to their classmates. Reactions lower the barrier to responding to peers and help more students contribute.

Importance Of Student Engagement In Learning

What is student engagement? Student engagement is a measure of a student’s level of interaction with others, plus the quantity of involvement in and quality of effort directed toward activities that lead to persistence and completion. While every college and university defines student engagement slightly differently, and benchmarks evolve over time, one of the key factors to consider when defining what meaningful engagement looks like at your institution is: Involvement & Activity.

A big part of teaching is engaging students. You know this; your best teachers likely did it for you, and you not only remember them for it, but you also now understand the importance of student engagement in learning. When face-to-face, it’s often easier to engage students and encourage them into contributing, increasing student engagement in real time.

The question is, how can you do it when you are not face-to-face with your students? Awareness is a good first step. Understanding your online students means seeking to know them better — to connect, to demonstrate interest in who they are and how they learn best, and to identify what you can do to create a supportive online learning environment for them.

According to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), more than seven million students — that’s 36% of all college-level students in the nation — are enrolled in at least one distance education course at degree-granting post-secondary institutions. As numbers in online and blended courses continue to grow, it’s important to design learning experiences around different student engagement theory and the following:

Types of Student Engagement

Online Learning’s Most Valuable Engagement Tactics

Why Is It Important to Engage Students in Learning?

Why is it important to engage students in learning? Whether it be barriers to participation, like juggling multiple responsibilities and the lack of face-time with instructors, or the sense of isolation online learners may experience, students who participate in online education tend to struggle more than those in face-to-face courses. As a result, courses typically have a lack of student engagement in online learning and a 10-20 percent lower retention rate than traditional courses. As institutions continue to expand their online or hybrid/blended course offerings, it has them looking more closely at the importance of student engagement in online learning.

Institutions now have an opportunity to create more attractive and engaging online and blended learning environments. With a proven set of learner engagement strategies in online class environments, institutions can employ an effective mix of synchronous and asynchronous online learning activities that have improved student engagement in online learning, and contributed to better retention — illustrating the importance of student engagement in learning.

How Do You Effectively Engage Your Students In Learning

How do you effectively engage your students in learning? Learning how to increase student engagement in learning is vital to creating and sustaining an effective digital learning environment. By prioritizing students’ engagement in online learning, instructors can create a more positive experience for everyone involved and help students sharpen their communication skills. It’s important to lay the groundwork for implementing effective engagement strategies in your online classroom.

Many factors affect student engagement , most of which are detailed in leading literature focused on student engagement strategies, higher education. Lack of access to internet-capable devices is among the top factors negatively impacting students’ success in online courses. Institutions should be mindful of the tech-related challenges faced by students. Poor learning habits and lack of self-motivation should also be taken into account. Many students struggle to keep up with self-paced courses, and so providing additional resources and course delivery methods is important.

Other effective student engagement activities include deploying a survey to better understand student engagement and determine how to increase their involvement in online courses. Your survey might touch on topics related to tech accessibility, communication with instructors, and any learning difficulties they may be facing. The results of your survey can be extremely helpful when developing student engagement strategies and planning activities to engage students in online learning.

Other creative ways to engage students include:

  1. Using emotion-based, multimedia & student-facilitated discussions for better student engagement in online learning
  2. Designing online collaboration activities like peer reviews
  3. Creating milestone due dates that guide students through a series of assignments, serving to keep them on track

Other strategies to increase student engagement center around sizes. Different institutions serve different types of students and can benefit from different student engagement techniques. For example, institutions with large class sizes can help get students involved in group projects. Those participating in smaller classes may be put into pairs or small groups for more personal engagement. Small class sizes allow for more one-on-one interaction between students and with instructors.

Regardless of class size, students can benefit from tools like chat and multimedia integration. Being able to converse with their peers and instructors can help keep them involved and engaged in course material. Additionally, by incorporating relevant media into their class discussion posts and assignments, they can more easily convey ideas and help their classmates understand complex topics. These strategies promote student engagement and are shown to be highly effective at keeping students interested.

How Does Student Engagement Impact Learning

With more and more components of learning moving online, designing highly engaging learning experiences is paramount for learning success. But how does student engagement impact learning exactly?

Student engagement research shows that active and engaged learning leads to better outcomes in courses and reduces equity-related performance gaps. One of the most impactful ways to engage learners is by blending asynchronous and synchronous learning activities. Doing so fosters better inclusion among all learners, and that often translates into more engaged students.

To achieve this, instructional designers and instructors have turned to online discussion and collaboration tools — often used as asynchronous tools for learning. Research on student engagement and achievement show that student participation in online collaboration and discussion are related to better course outcomes in traditional courses. In fact, in a pilot study conducted by WGU Labs, the College Innovation Network (CIN) found strong promise for increased course engagement and improved learning outcomes at Piedmont Community College, when online discussion forums were used both in the classroom and asynchronously outside the classroom.

The research indicates that synchronous and asynchronous learning complement each other. Instructors might incorporate several types of synchronous and asynchronous communication in a course to encourage critical thinking and active participation for all types of learners. The combination of synchronous and asynchronous learning within a course lets learners and instructors exchange information, collaborate on work, and get to know each other.

Because students learn in many different ways, incorporating an effective mix of synchronous and asynchronous online learning activities into courses provides increased and varied opportunities to engage — leading to more benefits of student engagement, such as higher likelihood of student retention and success.

Student Engagement Platform

The bottom line is that having access to the right student engagement tool to power effective learning is paramount. Making sure the technology is inclusive of different learners’ styles, fosters social connection and community, and is designed to help instructors track student participation could spell the difference between student success or attrition.

To do all of this, some institutions rely on a variety of disconnected tools that aren’t fully integrated with the LMS — creating additional barriers for instructors and making it more difficult to create a cohesive learning experience that engages students.

A student engagement platform, Harmonize offers a range of online tools for student engagement to improve retention, including rich multimedia discussion and Q&A boards, polling, chat, and more — all of which allow students to participate in the ways that work best for them. Using online tools for student engagement increases the quality and quantity of student-to-student, student-to-content, and student-to-instructor interactions.

Harmonize is a suite of digital discussion and collaboration tools that integrate seamlessly with your LMS to facilitate a more engaging online learning experience. It’s everything an instructor needs to increase student engagement online and promote inclusive learning, while saving time and eliminating manual tasks.

Additional Resources

How Can Harmonize Help You Reach Your Goals?