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  • Increase the channels through which students can contribute and exchange can help with this. For example using Hot Questions, Forums, Choice or Questionnaire in Moodle can draw out students who may be diffident in person at first, and help to make them more comfortable.
  • Has the ice been broken? Setting up a discussion thread in a forum on a topic which brings the personal and academic / professional together often works well. Creating groups if the cohort is large can help to make the volume of messages manageable.
  • Anonymity (i.e. not displaying names with posts) is possible across Moodle (e.g. Hot Question, Forums, Questionnaires, Choice), and is often requested by students. Discuss the possibility with students. It may be particularly useful early in the course, as students find their voices, or for certain situations where you judge it will make it easier for students to participate.
  • Polling, voting with phones.
  • Groups which are diverse / random / well-selected.
  • Glossaries - make sure the fundamental terms are understoodIn larger group sessions, polling, or responding to questions with phones can help to elicit responses from less-confident students. Showing these responses to the group can help to sensitise students to the range of views within the cohort.
  • When grouping students, it may be helpful to actively shape these to avoid recreating marginalisation which already exists outside the groups.

When designing these forms of participation, setting expectations (including instructions) is very important.

  • Be explicit about what is expected for each activity - especially if the activity is new to the participants.
  • Consider negotiating a 'comments policy' or ' code of conduct in discussions' or terms of engagement with students to sensitise them to the possibility of inadvertant negative 'micro messages' (see 2.27) and promote civil engagement.