Student Community Chat

Community Explorer

Hello fellow educators! I'm part of an 8th-12th grade online school, and we're trying to give students more of a chance for community. We have Canvas discussion boards set up in each course for off-topic chat, but we find that the discussion format doesn't work very well for light conversation. What we want to do is set up something like a Discord server for each course, so that students can interact and get to know their classmates. We would want the chat to be a safe and encouraging environment, so it would have to be monitored. The problem is that neither our teachers nor our admins has the time to fully monitor a chat room.

First, has anyone found an online chat system with automated content filtering or flagging of potentially inappropriate content? I saw that discord can scan for NSFW images, but we would need something more stringent than that.

Second, and more generally, what strategies have you used to create a sense of community in online courses? We already have live class sessions that meet weekly, but students want a place to discuss non-academic interests with their peers.