In difference to other communication apps, Discord may not be on many instructors’ screen, but it quite certainly is on their students’. Originally mostly frequented in the gaming community as a separate Voice over IP (VOIP) channel used in parallel to any ongoing game to discuss team tactics in private, it’s since developed into a communication tool with much broader appeal in particular with younger audiences.
Many of the unique features of Discord still cater to particular needs of gamers (e.g. integration with Twitch and Steam (=both gaming platforms); nonetheless, especially the complex possibilities for different communication situations may be of interest for the classroom.
Despite also offering video chats, Discords focus remains on text and voice communication (after all, gamers would visually be focusing on their game). Discord allows up to 50 participants per voice call (originally only 10, but they extended the number to accommodate coronavirus traffic); to govern this potentially confusing array of voices, each participant may be assign specific roles within the communication (i.e. specific rights), or may even be assigned distinct volumes by different participants (e.g. instructor’s feed may be set to always over-lay all others). Other benefits for the classroom may possibly be the familiarity of students with the tool, the very simple accessibility, and the great stability of the service.
Discord may be used browser-based or via a distinct app available for all platforms and devices. Switching between devices is smooth and seamless (e.g. a conversation may start on the laptop, but if a speaker needs to move location it can seamlessly transition to a smart phone).
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