As we continue to deliver hybrid learning, more of us are using tools like Teams and Collaborate. In this post, we will look at some of the ways in which you can get some interaction with your students. In previous posts, we’ve examined some reasons for barriers between you and the students. You can read more here:

All of the suggestions below can be found within the Collaborate Panel – found by clicking the purple semi-circle in the bottom right hand corner.

Chat Window

The first thing you’ll see if the Chat window. This is a great place to get interaction taking place. There may be many reasons why students don’t or can’t share their camera and/or microphone and so a text chat space can be very useful.

If you have a large or lively group, the chat window can be very busy. In an ideal world there will be two tutors running a session – one to deliver the session, and one to monitor the chat area. However, that may not be possible. If you are finding the chat window is becoming unmanageable. read on for some more ideas.

Raise Hand

At the bottom of the page, there’s a Raise Hand icon. This rather simple tool can be very effective to gather quick interaction. As tutor, you can ask simple questions to students, such as “Can you all hear me?” Students can then respond using the Raise Hand icon. From the Attendees panel, you can see this interaction. In addition, you’ll be notified by sounds (which can be customised in the Settings).

As above, if your group is a large group, this can be difficult to monitor. You can search for individual students in a Collaborate session, but the list of attendees might make it difficult to see at a glance.


Under the Share Content menu, you have the options for Polling. You can create multiple choice polls or yes/no polls. When created, these appear in the middle of the page, allowing students to engage with the session quickly. As moderator, you can see which students have responded and their answer. The responses are collated in real time, providing an engaging interface. The main downside is you can’t create the polls in advance, they have to be done in real time.


Still within the Share Content menu, there’s an option to Share Blank Whiteboard. This tool provides you (and the participants) a blank canvas to interact with. There are some limitations to it. For example, you cannot see who is “drawing” on the whiteboard. Also, be mindful that the Eraser icon will clear the entire board. Another potential pitfall is when you (as moderator) leave However, it’s a fun and quick way to get some brain storming or similar activity going on.

Breakout Groups

Perhaps one of the most powerful things you can do in Collaborate is to create Breakout Groups. This allows you to put groups of students into different “rooms” where they can interact with a small subset of students. As moderator, you can pop into the various rooms to listen in, aid discussions and so on. You can also “push out” content to the groups (such as a PowerPoint presentation). Finally, as moderator, you can bring the students back into the main room when you want to continue with the session.

Remember, Collaborate sessions can be recorded. Breakout group activities are not recorded, but any activities in the main room are. This allows students to revisit sessions at a later date, or for those students who weren’t able to attend to watch the session.

If you have any questions about using Collaborate, the Digital Learning Developers are on hand to discuss any of your needs. They can be contacted by emailing

Hints and tips for interaction in Collaborate

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