Documentation:Learning Platforms/Pedagogies/Discussions/Why would I use it

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Why Would I Use Online Discussion?

  • Encourages collaboration between students by allowing students to review and respond to other work. [1]
  • Builds a community of learners by promoting discussions on formal and informal themes. [2]
  • Deepens students' learning and motivation by propelling them to develop their own views and hear their own voices [3]
  • Engages students in formulating and responding to open ended questions from instructors and peers.
  • Students can respond to the discussion any time that is convenient for them.
  • Faculty members will spend less time answering students' questions via email or office hours. [4]

Effective Practice for Facilitating Online Discussion

Regardless of the format, effective integration and facilitation of online discussions requires some planning. Consider:

  • Highlighting for students why you have incorporated discussion and how you expect it will support learning in your class.
  • Engaging learners in defining a few guidelines for productive discussions. Questions such as "what makes a discussion productive, interesting or exciting?" Conversely, "what makes a discussion unproductive, boring and uninteresting?" The answers generated can be documented as posted as community generated guidelines for your class.
  • Determining the role you will play in discussions. Consider offering to summarize discussions at the end of each week or have students fill this role.
  • Weaving student comments into weekly summaries as a way of highlighting varied perspectives or questions for further reflection.
  • Assessment. How will you assess contributions to the discussion? In order for students to participate, they need to see value in the discussion (related to something they need to learn or accomplish) or it needs to be part of your overall assessment plan.
  • Incorporating peer assessment into the evaluation of discussions. Questions like "What posts or comments made you re-examine your assumptions or think more deeply?" Students can rate posts or comments based on this challenge.
  • Drawing clear connections between the in-class activity or lectures and the online discussions.
  1. University of Washington - Using Online Discussion Boards to Enhance Learning in Your Class
  2. University of Washington - Using Online Discussion Boards to Enhance Learning in Your Class
  3. Vanderbilt University - Center for Teaching
  4. Worcester Polytechnic University - Academic Technology Center