The Wisdom Wall

A humanizing element for online courses.

Sends the cue, “Learning is a process of growth.”

shared with student permission

Student-student interactions are an important part of online courses. But instructors are often less than thrilled with the results. One key to fostering authentic student-student interactions is to provide them with meaningful prompts. The Wisdom Wall (Pacansky-Brock, 2017) is a simple activity that can be adapted in several different ways in your course and it provides benefits for students and for you too.

To create a Wisdom Wall, invite your current students to share advice about a topic with future students. The topic should be something they have expertise in – providing advice about how to be successful in a course or on a project or exam are ideas to consider. The example above, designed with VoiceThread, includes advice from students at the end of my online course that is shared with students at the start of my online course.

Exposing students to role models they can identify with increases self-confidence and minimizes the influence of stereotype threat (Steele & Aronson, 1995) by changing the narratives students lean on to anticipate their challenges (Spitzer & Aronson, 2017). Engaging students in metacognition – or helping them to see and reflect on their learning – helps them to recognize their progress and increases self-efficacy. Using an asynchronous voice or video tool like VoiceThread or Flipgrid provides students with multiple means of expression, which is a principle of Universal Design for Learning, a research-based learning framework that supports learner variability. Asynchronous voice/video has also been linked with to increased social presence (Borup et al., 2012), which is an important part of developing a community of inquiry online (Garrison et al., 2010).

When you assign the Wisdom Wall, be sure to inform students that their comments will be shared with future students. Encourage your students to give thought about what they’d like to share before they record.

If you have an example of (or a clip from) a Wisdom Wall and student permission to share, I’d love to include it in a shared collection. Please feel free to share in a comment below.


Borup, J., West, R. E., & Graham, C. R. Improving online social presence through asynchronous video. The Internet and Higher Education, 15(3), 195-203.

Garrison, D.R., Anderson, T., Archer, W. (2010). The first decade of the community of inquiry framework: A retrospective. The Internet and Higher Education. 13(1), 5-9.

Pacansky-Brock, M. (2017). Best practices for teaching with emerging technologies (2nd ed.). Routledge.

Spitzer, B. and Aronson, J. (2015). Minding and mending the gap: Social psychological interventions to reduce educational disparities. The British Psychological Society, 85, 1-18.

Steele, C. M., & Aronson, J. (1995). Stereotype threat and the intellectual test performance of African-AmericansJournal of Personality and Social Psychology, 69, 797-811.

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