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My Strategies to Learn and Collaborate Online

2. Content


When learning online you need to be deliberate in your efforts to establish your presence. To do this, you will need to engage regularly and effectively with your peers and instructor.

This engagement can take place through email communication, posting in the discussion board, or by the way you show up and participate in the Zoom synchronous sessions.

Start by listening to the audio clip below. You can also read a written transcript and access an activity handout by clicking the links below the audio player.

Individual and collaborative learning spaces in D2L 

Communicating and collaborating online can feel different than doing so in-person. More than in a classroom setting, online learning requires a variety of communication tools to share and collaborate in a successful way.  

You are probably familiar with email and social media, which can be great communication tools.  

With advancements in technology, new tools have been developed and utilized within education to greatly help in online communication and collaboration. Some of these include: 

  • Collaborative document software such as Google Docs and Word Online. 
  • Synchronous learning environments such as Skype, Zoom, or Google Hangouts. 
  • Website development tools such as Wordpress, Weebly, and Wix. 
  • Learning Management Systems such as D2L, Blackboard, Moodle, and more. 

Most learning management systems have numerous communication tools built into them, and D2L is no exception.  

Under the Discussions tab, you will find a discussion board where you can discuss course topics and questions with your peers. 

Under the Communications tab, you will find a list of student and instructor emails to use when you need to contact group members or your course instructor.  

Your D2L course will also have a Zoom page under the Communications tab which will act as a portal to Zoom if your course has any synchronous sessions. 


Your presence in the virtual classroom 


When learning online you need to be deliberate in your efforts to establish your presence. That is, you will need to engage regularly and effectively with your peers and instructor. This engagement can take place through email communication, posting in the discussion board, or by the way you show-up and participate in the Zoom synchronous sessions. 

By establishing your presence in your virtual classroom, whether it is D2L, Zoom or a combination of both, you will be co-creating with your peers a safe space that allows for open communication to express your ideas “based on the knowledge that your peers will be respectful and supportive.” (Kwantlen Polytechnic University Learning Centres, 2018).  A space in which “all members of the course commit to support[ing] each other in their learning.” (Kwantlen Polytechnic University Learning Centres, 2018) 

Here are seven tips to keep in mind when stablishing your presence when learning online: 

Tip number 1. Read the instructor’s welcome message to the course to learn about the expectations for communication, course rules for what is and is not acceptable, and where to find a guide to “netiquette” used in the course.  

Tip number 2. If asked, post your profile or introductory video or audio clip about yourself and your interests. Be authentic and let your true self shine 

Tip number 3. When applicable, attend as many scheduled office hours by your instructor as possible to provide a progress update with a checklist either alone or with your team members. 

Tip number 4. Participate and respond to each other in discussion boards following the netiquette and expectations set out by your instructor. 

Tip number 5. Participate in Zoom synchronous sessions either through the use of the chat, reactions, or orally.  

Tip number 6. If in doubt, ask for model postings and responses on discussion boards. An example is worth a thousand words of explanations!; and 

Tip number 7. Get inspiration from your peers’ ways to engage! They will appreciate your willingness to try new things and to engage with them the way that works best for them. 

Finally, most of the digital tools you can use to establish your presence in the virtual classroom imply doing so by using written language. Hence, brushing up on your knowledge of grammar, and always keeping in mind your course’s netiquette when composing emails, posting or replying will increase your level of confidence. 


Your contribution to the team 


The more you know about the tasks you enjoy doing as well as your role when working in a team, the easier it will be for you to complete group or team assignments when learning online. This, in addition to communicating frequently with your team members. 

Effective teams: 

  1. Maintain open communication 
  2. Identify the diversity of skills each member brings to the table 
  3. Clarify the role each member plays and the expectations associated to each role. 
  4. Trust each other. Every member must value the success of every other member and understand that for the team to succeed, everyone must succeed. The team “sinks or swims together.” and 
  5. Have strategies in place to deal with conflict respectfully and professionally.  

The effective team infographic provides more details. 

When collaborating in online learning spaces, communication is key. Discussion boards, virtual group meetings, and collaborative documents are all useful tools for you and your group to use to communicate.  

Make sure to get in touch with your team members and your instructor early on to determine a plan that works best for you and your team. If you need assistance with this, your instructor can help your team create collaborative online spaces such as a private group discussion board or a private group meeting over Zoom.  



Click HERE to see the Effective Teams infographic

Question 1:

Which online tools are supported and secure by UCalgary? 

a) Google Docs, D2L, Skype 

b) Word Online, D2L, Zoom 

c) World Online, Blackboard, Skype 

d) Google Docs, Blackboard, Zoom 

b) Word Online, D2L, Zoom 

Question 2:

Where can you find the dates and times for any live synchronous Zoom lessons? Select all that apply. 

a) Zoom page under the Communications tab 

b) Course Outline 

c) Class list under the Communications tab 

d) Content page for the week 

a) Zoom page under the Communications tab 

b) Course Outline 

d) Content page for the week 

Click HERE to view the Study Strategies for Online Learning video transcript

Question 3:

Which of the following are study strategies for successful online learning? Select all that apply.  

a) Create flashcards or checklists regularly 

b) Read over course material the night before an examination 

c) Pretend to teach or explain the material verbally 

d) Work on multiple tasks at the same time to get more done quicker 

a) Create flashcards or checklists regularly 

c) Pretend to teach or explain the material verbally 

You have learned several study strategies suited for online learning, however there are many more. Different study strategies work better with different learning styles. Visit the 'My Online Learning Journey' module of this course for more information about learning styles. 

Create a list of study strategies that will work best for you and your learning style. Consider whether these strategies are effective in both in-person and online learning environments. Feel free to expand on the strategies available by searching on the internet. Refer back to this study strategy list throughout the course and in any future online courses you take.


Digital Skills for Learning Online is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.