Anonymous commenting in Talis Elevate - Staff guide

Why is anonymous commenting a feature in Talis Elevate? 

We have added the anonymous commenting feature to Talis Elevate as a mechanism for lowering the barrier to entry for students. Many of your students will likely not feel confident with their knowledge of the subject matter, or simply don't like speaking out in physical or virtual spaces. By giving the students the ability to self-select if they write a comment anonymously or not, we've found this can enable participation from quieter students. 

How can students use this? 

When a student is writing a comment, they will see a "comment anonymously" button below the comment pane. This is where they can select how they display their comment: 


How does this work? 

Your students will have a different avatar on each resource they access but will be using the same avatar if they return to a previously accessed document (i.e. they will always be ‘Anonymous234’ on a single document). We assign a colour combination and number to each anonymous user, their avatar will look something like this:


To preserve the anonymity of students on your modules, you will not be able to tell who has written a comment or associate a student with an anonymous avatar.  

How does this affect analytics? 

We will still collect and record engagement analytics, but will not display in Elevate any identifiable information. For example, we won’t show anywhere else in the system that ‘Anonymous234’ wrote a comment at 15.15. This is also to ensure we are showing you accurate information about how your students engage with your resources. In analytics emails, we will still show if an anonymous user has been a 'top commenter' just as if the student was showing their name. 

What can I do if I have a problem with this? 

Any student can flag any comment as inappropriate. See our support article on moderating comments for more information. 

Whilst students are anonymous to teachers and other students, Talis retains the technical ability to identify the student if required. This is to ensure we hold the same anonymous user avatar for each student on each resource. Because of this, if there is a comment made on a resource that needs formal follow up or a student continuously abuses the anonymity, we can identify the student to the institution if requested. Please raise a support ticket if you need to do this. 

How can this be used in practice? 

There are a number of use cases for anonymous commenting. The key thing we've found is promoting this as a tool to your students early. If you are starting to get students used to the commenting process, promote this feature to your students as a mechanism for getting them engaged, even if they are not comfortable being involved in discussions. 

Some examples of using the anonymous commenting feature in practice can be found here: 

  • Encouraging interaction for students who are normally hesitant about getting involved in an online discussion for the fear of saying something wrong 
  • Asking students to comment if they don’t understand something / would like more information on a topic or section of a resource, but don't feel comfortable doing so with their name showing 
  • Discussing topical or sensitive content where students may not wish to disclose their honest opinion publicly
  • Peer evaluation 
  • Gathering honest feedback from your students 

We have found that when this feature is used by your cohort, it can remove the barriers to engagement for many students. However, we have also observed that over time on a module, the level of use of anonymity tends to drop. For more information on anonymity in teaching, see our blog post here.

Need further support? Click the 'Raise a Support Ticket' button below.

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