The perfect class discussion can feel like something of an alchemy. From the instructor’s preparation to the students’ personalities, many ingredients can enable or challenge
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online discussion groups
During a recent online class, a student posted in the chat, “We should use breakout groups in all courses.” On the other hand, a faculty
“What are we supposed to be doing?” (said every student at least once in a breakout room). Small groupwork enables students to “compare their current
Editor’s note: This article was featured on The Teaching Professor in December 2018. For more articles like this, learn more about a Teaching Professor membership.
I used to dread online discussions as much as many students do. However, after implementing a simple change, I was as eager to join my
Over the years, I’ve had the pleasure of working with approximately 300 faculty who have developed and taught their first online course. One of the
Faculty use asynchronous discussions to extend and enhance instructional practices in the online classroom. It is widely reported that online discussions play an integral role in facilitating students’ learning, as well as fostering dialogue, critical thinking, and reflective inquiry (Kayler & Weller, 2007; Morris, Finnegan, & Sz-Shyan, 2005). Despite faculty’s knowledge that discussion forums can serve as a useful learning tool, online discussions are not easy to establish and manage.
Online instructors are being asked to accommodate an increasing number of students in their courses. The challenge is to manage the workload associated with these high-enrollment courses. Susan Fein, eLearning consultant/instructional designer at Washington State University, offered some advice on how to do this.
Discussion boards are often viewed as the heart of online courses, and for good reason: the students can interact with one another 24/7, sharing, debating, and offering ideas, insights, suggestions, and information that stimulate the learning process. Yet challenges do happen in discussion, and these can be formidable. Left alone, they can quickly limit the effectiveness of any discussion and create problems throughout the online course.