Interaction and collaboration in online sessions

On this page you will find information on how to accomodate for interaction and collaboration in online sessions.

Norwegian version – Interaksjon og samhandling i nettbaserte økter

Teaching online does not give the same possibility for face-to-face communication as teaching on-campus, it is therefore important to be aware of presentation techniques and how to facilitate for interaction and collaboration in online sessions.

Presentation techniques and interaction for digital sessions

Planning the course syllabus and learning activites, are the most important sucess factors. For online sessions it is important that the delivery also is able to engage and give clarity for students. The following steps are recommended:

Check-in at the start of each session

The purpose of 'check-in' is to activate the participants from the beginning of the session, to strenghten the establishment of digital relationships and facilitate participants involvement during a session. An informal 'check-in' may also create a safer learning environment for the participants.

For small groups participants may use their microphone for informal check-in activities.

For larger groups we recommend using the chat for communication. Most videoconferencing solutions also incorporates a 'raise hand' functionality, this ensures a good (and fair) way to manage input and questions from participants during an online session.

Examples of 'check-in' activities:

  • Raise hand - to check if participants can hear and se presented content
  • Raise hand - to manage questions and input
  • Ask neutral (harmless) questions in chat
    Place, weather, music, meals, plans for the weekend...
  • Change personal status icons or post emojis in chat
  • Present an illustration/a picture etc. to start a discussion
  • Let the participants annotate on shared content (Map, diagram, statements ...)

Present content - Illustrations and text

Think like a 'teacher' - Use illustrations and carefully consider the amount of text on each slide, to enable the students to take notes during your session. Longer texts should rather be shared with students in other ways.

  • Use relevant pictures/illustrations to keep the attention of the particiants. Visual content strenghtens the cognitive processes and contributes to the learning progression of the participants (cf. Vygotsky ZPD)
  • Use keywords or bullletpoints if you want participants to pay attention to what you are saying.
  • Limit the amount of text on each slide and use bulletpoints. The 7x7 guideline, using maximum 7 lines with maximum 7 words in each, is recommended. Slides with too much text leads to asynchronous reading, and the possibility of losing the participants' attention.
  • Proofread your content to avoid unintentional spelling mistakes. Intentional spelling mistakes can have the opposite effect.

Learn more: Tips til gode presentasjoner (Norwegian)

Presentation techniques

  • Look straight into the camera when you start and regurarly during the session. This increases the feeling of presence for the participants.
  • Use the pointer when you want to highligt something. If you share your presentation as an application, the mouse pointer will be visible for the participants. For some applications it is necessary to activate an embedded pointer, for example when you are sharing uploaded files in Collaborate.
  • Talk with enthusiasm, energy and steadiness. The most impoortant thing is to have in-depth knowledge of what you are going to talk about. Additionally it is important to be comfortable with and show enthusiasm for the topic(s) you are talking about, to better engage the participants. Digital monotony may lead to sleepy or multi-tasking participants.
    Tip: Stand when talking to get more wnwrgy in your voice, if you are a naturally more quiet person.
  • Use 3 or 5 key concepts which are easy to remember for the participants.
  • Add cognitive breaks. Avoid talking continuously in long sequences unless you are talking about something highly entertaining. TED Talks are rarely longer than 18 minutes for a reason...
  • Use different means for variation
    • Reflection questions and short breaks
    • Do or show something that stands out (illustrations, change tone of voice or tempo etc.)
    • Digressions, planned and/or spontanous

Make a light-hearted joke if something goes wrong during a session. Everyone understands that anyone can make a mistake.

Digital collaboration in online sessions

Technology designed for online collaboration can support different collaborative tasks and processes. Choice of technology depends on the purpose you intend to acheive.

Data processing agreements (DPA) and privacy regulations

NTNUs Software overview contains information about available software at NTNU, with approven DPAs. This overview also contains several tools that can be used for collaboration among students.

Do you need software you can't find in this overview? See Software avilable by request.

Digital group work

Some videoconferencing tools do have break-out group functions, to facilitate for collaboration in smaller groups during an online session. Participants can be distributed into break-out sessions, and brought back to the main session. The outcome of break-out sessions will often increase if the participants are properly prepared for the tasks at hand. Presenting something on behalf of a group may also feel safer for the participants, than voicing personal opinions in a large group.

  • Break-out groups in Collaborate
  • Break-out groups in Zoom (link to come).

Digital collaboration for students

For group tasks and guidance we recommend using


Create a set of groups in Blackboard with access to open Collaborate sessions. This gives the students in each group full access to this toll for meetings and group collaboration etc.

Read more about Groups and tools for group work in Blackboard.

O365 Teams

Teams is a useful tool for collaboration in projects and groups. Students can create their own Teams when they are logged in with Feide.

Read more about Teams.

We also recommend the following collaboration and brainstorming tools for online sessions

Check out NTNUs Software overview for the full list of available tools.

Do you want to learn more?

Courses for lecturers


This page is written and mantained by Section for teaching, learning and digital services

Please contact NTNU Hjelp if you have any questions or feedback.

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