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The Study Hall

Harmonize: A New Way to Engage Students in Deeper Discussions

Hello Canvas community! We’ve got some great news for those of you who might be looking for new ways to engage your students in online discussions. We’ve been working behind the scenes with our friends at Canvas for a few months now to deliver an even tighter integration with Harmonize, a next-generation online discussion platform that helps you create the dynamic interactions that support student learning. And we’re thrilled to have this opportunity to tell you all about it. 

Harmonize isn’t just another online discussion board. It’s a social space that helps students and instructors connect and collaborate in new ways. Better yet, you and your students can access it directly from the Canvas LMS. Taking design cues from popular social networks, Harmonize has a modern, visually appealing layout with capabilities that students and instructors tell us they love: they can create posts using rich media, including text, images, video, audio. They can embed links directly into Harmonize from the web without additional formatting. And a very cool annotation feature lets them make comments and draw directly on an image or video--because sometimes an arrow or an exclamation point speaks volumes!

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Because of its tight integration with Canvas, instructors can evaluate discussion board assignments using SpeedGrader and check for plagiarism using Turnitin or Unicheck directly from Harmonize. You don’t need to learn a new tool or log out of Harmonize to take care of the essentials. 

We know a lot of folks reading this blog may be wading into online teaching for the first time. And we get it: you have a lot on your plate. But while Harmonize might sound like a “nice-to-have,” consider this: Harmonize can increase student participation by up to 64% when compared to traditional discussion tools. Why? We think it’s because we’ve created a discussion environment that feels a lot like how they are already engaging with their friends and family every day. 

From TikTok to Instagram to YouTube—students today are using visual platforms to keep in touch. They spend anywhere from 3 to 4 hours a day engaged with social media. And studies have found that young people prefer YouTube over any other media to learn new things. Simply put, students expect their online interactions—especially discussions with their peers—to be visual, easy, and fun.  And that’s exactly what Harmonize delivers.

Before Harmonize, discussion boards really hadn’t changed much since they were launched a decade ago. But the needs of instructors and students did. The weekly check-in has evolved into a sophisticated series of class assignments that can range from the informal, to assigned topics, to graded discussion. Now, with the tools available to you in Harmonize, you can begin to experiment. 

For instance, you don’t always have to ask for written responses to your discussion prompts: have students post a video that others can annotate directly from the platform. Encourage the use of reactions (visual icons within Harmonize) for a quick check in or to vote for the best response. Try out anonymous posting and see what kind of difference that makes. If you have a big class, create smaller discussion groups to help build communities. 

Bottom line: with Harmonize, you can help your students engage in their learning in ways that are familiar and fun. We’re always learning too--and adding new capabilities like milestone capabilities with multiple due dates. We’d love to show you what we’re doing and we always want to hear more about what you need to keep your students engaged and inspired. 

Learn More about how Harmonize can elevate your discussion platform today!

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