Tips from the Pros: Reducing Instructor Workload in Discussion Forums

Keith Restine, associate director of distance education, and Allison Peterson, senior instructional designer, both at Texas Woman’s University, offer the following tips for reducing instructor workload in discussion forums:

  • You don’t have to be an active participant in every discussion. Let students know that although you will monitor all discussions, you may not be an active participant in each one.
  • Have students summarize the discussions. Summarizing discussions is an important part of facilitation. The instructor does not need to be the one who performs this role.
  • Grade discussion facilitators rather than each student. Tracking individual participation in discussions can be difficult. An alternative to grading individual participation is grading students for their work in facilitating and/or summarizing discussions.
  • Have students collaborate in small group forums to craft a single post that they will share with the entire class. This cuts down on the number of posts the instructor needs to read and often results in higher-quality discussions.

Reprinted from Online Classroom (July 2011): 1.