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  • Writer's pictureHeather Saigo

Using Discord to Feel Less Isolated

Updated: Jun 15, 2022

When COVID-19 forced classes online in 2020, many schools made the quick switch to Zoom or other video conferencing platforms. While these services allowed teachers to deliver lectures to students virtually, they did not provide ready solutions for students to socialize and communicate outside of classroom sessions. There may be opportunities for smaller groups within class sessions, via breakout rooms, but that doesn’t quite replace the experience of hanging out in the hallways, gathering on the quad, or meeting for coffee in the commons.

We miss meeting to chat informally outside of school.

Socializing and Support in Servers

To fill the need for students to develop social relationships, work on projects outside of class, and support each other “off campus,” some groups are using Discord servers. In our graduate program server, we have course-related channels, as well as channels to share photos, funny memes and jokes, professional development resources, and news. We use voice channels and screen sharing to watch required videos together. It’s not quite the same as in-person movie night, but it is better than watching alone.

Some students feel isolated during remote learning.

In my doctoral program, I have come to rely on our Discord server as a way to connect with classmates for emotional support. Without a place to gather and chat outside of Zoom class sessions, I felt isolated and overwhelmed. Doctoral student, Pepperdine University

How Students Use Discord

Here are three examples of how some students are using Discord to connect and collaborate.

  1. At Princeton, university clubs and organizations use Discord to provide a flexible space for students to gather, chat, and share photos. One program director compares it to hanging out in a cafeteria or dorm room, which is quite different from online lectures.

  2. A group of Baltimore students won a development competition for their use of Discord as a tool for supporting mental health during remote learning. They touted the platform as an engaging and accessible tool for preventing social isolation.

  3. Students at the University of Victoria are using Discord to enhance the university experience by providing a sense of community. In addition, campus services such as peer tutoring have been adapted for online delivery on Discord.

Share Your Thoughts

Discord can be a valuable tool for communication and connection, especially when students are prevented from gathering in person. Are you or your students using Discord as a replacement for other social activities during the pandemic? Do you have any suggestions to share?

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