You can have students discuss a digital text in marginalia! Social annotation apps like Hypothes.is and Perusall allow students to discuss PDF texts, websites, and even video asynchronously, by commenting on passages or points on a playtrack, and replying to each others’ comments.
This can be an improvement on the asynchronous discussion, because conversation happens at the site of the passage or point in a video. This spring, two options for this will be available in D2L: Hypothes.is and Perusall. Hypothes.is is more appropriate for having students comment on web page-based content, while Perusall allows students to comment on videos. Both can handle .pdf-based texts.
If you’d like to try these out in your classes, contact the Center for Online Learning & Innovation for details.