How to get the most of online discussions in education

Athena and Larry lead a discussion on discussions
Athena and Larry lead a discussion on discussions

Larry Jansen and Athena Kennedy led a presentation on online discussions in the classroom.

The online threaded discussion is the most commonly employed method of interactive learning in an online class. Let’s explore the strategies, challenges, and successes of conducting threaded discussions. We’ll also point out alternatives to online threaded discussions, such as web conferences, wikis, or blogs. Come and add your ideas to the discussion.

Answers to question.
Answers to question.

Athena leads off the instruction with a question on what best practices we use for discussions in distance education or face to face. Model good discussions. Create good discussion questions. Set up a “lounge area” for students to discuss off topic. Communicate expectations up front… what is needed for grade. Instructors should be part of the discussion. Facilitate the discussion, let it run when it is active, step in and ask for more. Discussions can be use as a role play exercise.

Larry asked where do online discussions fail. If the discussion is not managed well, e.g., class is not divided into groups. Switching groups during the term is also beneficial to getting to know other students. Important for instructor to participate. Important to establish a rubric for a discussion post. Good discussion about how to form groups and manage group discussions. Good idea is to offer choices of topics to discuss. It is possible to attach additional resources to the discussion. Athena recommends providing a choice to assignment type.

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