6. Effective Online Discussions | Virtual Learning Design and Delivery (2022)

INTRODUCTION

This chapter will provide the learner with an overview of online discussion management approaches, pedagogy, best practices, and tactics. It also looks at advanced methods of online discussions that help advance student learning to new levels.

CHAPTER OBJECTIVES

After reading and reviewing this chapter, you should be able to:

  1. List benefits of online education
  2. Analyze how online discussions can expand learning opportunities
  3. Understand how instructor presence can affect discussion quality
  4. Evaluate a list of strategies that promote high quality online discussions
  5. Analyze which strategies would work best in your own online discussions
  6. Learn ways of promoting active, engaging and advanced discussions between the students
  7. Evaluate methods of pushing student learning in subtle ways
  8. Analyze Advanced Discussion Methods for creating unique learning experiences
  9. Learn ways of promoting active, engaging and advanced discussions between the students
  10. Evaluate methods of pushing student learning in subtle ways
  11. Analyze Advanced Discussion Methods for creating unique learning experiences

CHAPTER SECTIONS

  1. Benefits of Online Discussions
  2. Instructor Presence
  3. Strategies for Quality
  4. Advancing the Discussions
  5. End of Chapter Resources

By Deakin University

Introduction

There are many benefits to having online discussions even in a face-to-face (f2f) course. From fully f2f to blended to fully online, the students can expand their learning outside the classroom through interactive dialogue with their peers and the instructor. An online discussion is very similar to a f2f talk in that they require moderation and active management by the instructor, preparation time, and summarization of the concepts covered. In this learning guide an online discussion is defined as communication between instructors and students using interactive communication tools. These tools can take many forms, from chat sessions, to discussion forums, to video chat. The value of the online discussion is that even those students who are shy and timid can find the time to express their views, and more in-depth dialogue between students-students can occur.

Benefits of Online Discussions

  • Work Quality. If the instructor makes the expectations and requirements clear then, given that students have time to reflect on their discussion contributions before posting, they can offer more resources and interesting facts than they could in a f2f talk on the same topic, thus increasing the quality of the discussions.
  • Preparation. In a f2f discussion the students may or may not have prepared or read the material, but in online discussions they always have time to look up the information and study the item prior to posting a response about it, particularly useful for ESL students who may need extra time to prepare in advance of discussions.
  • Netiquette. In the new millennium we are all faced with having to learn a whole new set of social communica- tion skills: how to politely discuss topics in the online format. The instructor is integral in helping the students find their online voices and personalities in a polite and socially acceptable manner that is conducive to a warm and inviting learning community for all; a skill the students will use in their personal and professional lives too as technology for communication use expands.
  • Writing Skills. If the instructor has high expectations on the quality of the writing that students post, then students will have the opportunity to improve on their writing skills. This can be an essential practice of writing for ESL students.
  • Active Management. As the instructor follows student discussion threads, they can see misconceptions or logical errors and fallacies right as they occur and offer the information or guidance students need to stay on the right learning path in class.
  • Equal Chances. In a f2f discussion there is limited time for everyone to talk; as soon the class discussion time is over, the discussion is over. The online format is a great place to continue the classroom discussions thus allowing all the students, even the shy or timid, a chance to have their say. This also allows students to participate at the same time in multiple lines of thought (threads) within the same discussion theme.
  • Global Connections. Some online course discussions are conducted across different course sections at the same campus, or across several campuses, or even between the same course at two different universities in the same or different countries. These kinds of online global connections allow the students a chance to improve on their cultural perspectives and to network internationally.
  • Expanding Classroom Learning. A classroom discussion can only last as long as the class hours allow and may take time away from lectures and other activities that the instructor needs to give to the students. Having online discussions on the course lectures allows the instructor to continue course discussions even once the f2f time is over. It can also be a great way for students to integrate learning from classroom lectures into discussion conducted online.

Many students have said that they write their posts in MS Word first to check for grammar and spelling before posting them to be viewed by other students. When asked why, some said they don’t mind making mistakes when submitting writing to the instructor as he/she is an expert in this area, so is used to seeing errors! When submitting threaded posts in the discussion forum however, they feel their writing should be as flawless as possible so their peers will think well of them. – Triona Finucane

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Look over the listed benefits of online discussions. Which do you feel would most apply to your course and why?

A commonly held myth is that technology could replace the instructor, or that online learning does not need an instructor. In reality the instructor is as much of a requirement in online learning as in face-to-face (f2f) learning, just in different ways. The role of the instructor changes from a learning guide to a learning facilitator, and the presence of the instructor to support learning in the online delivery mode is essential to student satisfaction.

There is no one-size-fits-all approach to when an instructor should use online discussions, how often, and how much they should interact within the discussions. The instructor should evaluate their students’ needs on a case-by-case basis. For example, how often the instructor ought to reply in the online discussion forums can vary based on a great many factors, such as:

  • Level of the students: New students and beginners may require more interaction than higher level or graduate students, who may prefer to lead the discussion themselves and to learn from each other as much as from the instructor.
  • Topic: Some topics might require more management and guidance by the instructor than others.
  • Discussion type: You will learn of different kinds of discussions that can be utilized, and different ones would require different levels of interaction by the instructor.

What the Research Says

Research supports two interesting results that could conflict with each other in practice; that instructor presence is key to student satisfaction,and that too much interaction and posting by the instructor in discussions can lead to reduced posting by the students (Wang and Liang, 2011).

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Students claim higher satisfaction in courses that have higher instructor presence and availability (Picciano, 2002; Richardson & Swan, 2003; Shea, Li, & Pickett, 2006; Blau, 2009). On the other hand, because the instructor is considered an authoritarian figure (Rourke & Anderson, 2002), studies have found that the sooner, and more often, an instructor posted in the discussion forums, then the less frequent and shorter were the posts by the students (Dennen, 2005, Mazzolini & Maddison, 2003). Students require some time to start and to feel confident in expressing their views with each other before the instructor begins to interact with them, otherwise they will just reply to the instructor, and not to each other (Wang and Liang, 2011).

Directed Tactics

Wang and Liang (2011) outlined several methods specifically focused on dealing with this dilemma:

  1. Regulating: The course designer can help regulate student interactions by creating and implementing clear rules and policies related to the discussion board posts and replies. This includes quantitative rules about how often to post, by when, and to whom. It also includes qualitative rules about the content and quality of the posts and replies.
  2. Inviting: The instructor makes it clear to the student how to contact them for help, guidance, questions, and support on the discussion topics. This can be a separate online forum for building discussions between the instructor and students, which is away from the course topic discussions in which the instructor hopes the students will teach each other. This is often called the ’Virtual Office.’
  3. Summarizing: The instructor is integral in summarizing the student discussions and going over main points and important conclusions. Putting in direct examples from the discussion is very useful and gives credit to high quality interactions. This helps the students in summarizing their own learning, as well as lets them know clearly that they were being monitored throughout the process.
  4. Assessing: Formative assessments and feedback help students to improve their performance during the course. Offering feedback on the quality of the posts with examples of expectations helps students to meet the instructor’s expectations and to improve on the quality of their interactions with their peers.
  5. Counseling: The instructor should let the students know they are there to support them, and be in frequent contact with the student through means other than just the discussion forums. They can send out updates by email and give students many ways to contact them, through a special instructor-student Virtual Office discussion forum (as outlined in #2) in the course, by email, phone, chat, in person-to-person office hours, and any other means of communication the instructor is able to offer students.

Avoiding Burnout

In the f2f classroom, the instructor manages 20+ students in a discussion at the same time, in one hour, and then is done. In the online discussions the conversations can go on longer, expand and break up into multiple conversation lines, and the instructor may begin to feel overwhelmed by the number of replies they need to manage. Here are some tips and tricks to managing online discussions that avoid work overload:

  • Save save save! If you write up a thoughtful, well supported and referenced reply on a given topic, chances are you will use it again the next time you teach that same topic and course. Save it in a file to be reused. Save anything you might reuse, and save yourself time in the future.
  • Reply to multiple students at the same time. Do not reply to each student with the same information or weblink. Instead, try to get them onto the same thread and reply to them all there. If you wait a day or twoand reply to a thread between 2-4 students, then you make one reply to four students at the same time.
    • Example 1: Hello John, Jane, Mary and Susan. You have some interesting points about XX, and also about XX. Have you considered XX? What do you think?
    • Example 2: Hello John. I see you are discussing the same topic as I replied to Mary with some interesting facts and sources. Check that out, and reply to let us know what you think.
  • Set Work Hours. Online discussions are always there. It can invade the rest of your life until you find you are logging into the course far too often. Set specific hours when you will login into your online course and check the discussions, and stick to that schedule. Try to not login outside those set hours to avoid burnout.
  • Quality vs. Quantity: Replying to all students in the course with fluff and low quality replies is far less advantageous to their learning than making a few directed, specific, and high quality replies. Make it clear to students that a reply to one student is always open to discussion by the entire class.
  • Pick Your Battles. Don’t spend hours writing up a thoughtful, in-depth tutorial, post, or help guide unless you can reuse it with other students in the future; try to find the same thing online already written and give them that link instead. Finally, don’t spend hours on thoughtful feedback for a student’s post where the student very clearly did not spend even five minutes writing it.

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Review the directed tactics in this section. Which do you think would be hardest to implement and why? Which do you feel would be most essential?

Video: Managing Online Discussions

By The University of New South Wales

Here we provide a list of strategies and methods that help improve the quality of online learning discussions.

Make the Discussion Post Directions Clear and Concise. For example, specify the minimum words or referencing required, and clearly state the due date. Create a high quality discussion question that requires they use critical thinking to integrate course concepts in place of just listing out answers they can copy online.

Make the Value Clear. Explain at the start of the course the reason and value of the discussions, and outline the discussion methods you will use. If students perceive the value they will make them a priority.

Make it Worth Something. If it is not graded, students are not likely to give it enough attention. Discussion can be an important and integral part of student learning and writing practice. Make both the initial posts and their participation replies an adequate percent of the total grade. Experts in the field recommend that discussion participation should equal anywhere from 10-30% of the entire grade if students are to take them seriously.

Clearly State Participation Requirements. Many instructors will specify the minimum number of replies each student should make, how many days a week posts and replies should be made on (to show attendance), and the level of quality the reply content should have (meaning replies of just ’I agree’ and nothing more are not counted as participation). It is very useful to give students examples of what a high quality reply should look like. Giving students a grading rubric that outlines what is expected and how they will be graded allows them to meet the instructor’s expectations.

Promote Interactive Feedback: The instructor should outline that substantive feedback is required for participation points (such as replies of ’I Agree’ and nothing more will not constitute a part of graded participation). Note that not all replies will be substantive, and sometimes all we need to say is “Great job, I agree.” Don’t discourage this kind of positive support, just inform students that they must also have a minimum number of substantive replies as well. Giving students examples of what substantive feedback looks like can help them interact at the discussions in an advanced way. Substantive feedback usually includes one or more of the following elements:

• Asking questions about the original post

• Pointing out (respectfully) possible errors in the original post, and offering up a source of information on the topic for further discussion

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• Sharing of links, videos, and other online resources on the topic to expand further discussion

• Sharing of personal experiences relevant to the topic

• Respectfully disagreeing, and then sharing an alternative viewpoint

• Using reliable support, facts, and information to support arguments and points

Create a Permanent Discussion Schedule. A professor can schedule regular and consistent start and end dates of discussions to keep students on track. Setting early due dates on the posts allows students enough time to reply before the end of the discussions. Making the discussion schedule a permanent part of the syllabus allows students to plan their time effectively.

Lead by Example. If you expect students to make posts and replies at least three days of the week, so should the professor as the model. The instructor’s posts should be high quality, referenced, and academic, thus becoming a guide of what is expected.

Example: Always make the initial discussion post due on Tuesdays by midnight and the replies due on three days of the week, the final ones in by Sunday night. These permanent due dates week after week help to keep the students organized and able to meet the deadlines.

Alleviate Isolation and Distance. In blended or online learning, students may feel less socially connected to the instructor and course which can lead to higher dropout rates. See the section in this chapter on Building a Learning Community for tips on reducing this.

Encourage Dialogues. Avoid dominating the conversation or telling students ’how it is’ and instead guide learning in appropriate directions through the Advancing Discussion tactics covered in this chapter. Manage dominate students so that timid ones feel they have the space to share.

Appropriate Group Size. Research shows that groups of less than eight people will probably stagnate from lack of interaction, but so too will groups over 15 people as students feel overwhelmed by the number of posts in the forum. If the course numbers allow it, then create smaller discussion groups of 10-15 people. A good tactic is to then employ the ’Cross-pollination’ method discussed in this module.

Mid and End of discussion Summaries. Halfway through a discussion post a review of general conclusions being made by students, as well as to clarify any misconceptions and to keep students on track. Post an end-of-discussion summary to wrap up all of the main points and to make important conclusions the students may not have yet realized.

Align Discussions with Learning Outcomes. Design the discussion questions such that they relate directly back to the course learning outcomes. This way the students are spending their limited time on focused and useful discussions relevant to course learning goals.

In cases where a large majority or most of the students in the course are second-language speakers, this can present a unique challenge for the instructor. The instructor may need to spend a bit more time supporting students in the discussions, or offering summaries of new words and expressions learned via email after the discussions.

The instructor can do pre-discussion work with the students to prepare them for the discussion language needs in advance, such as with a vocabulary exercise, activity, or tutorial on the required vocabulary and expressions that will be required in the upcoming discussions. These tutorials, help sheets, and vocabulary lists can also be posted online in the discussions or learning management system (LMS) where the discussions will take place, allowing for a quick review by students when necessary. Finally, create a glossary of terms in the course, which will be essential so that students can refer often to it when unsure of the language used in the forums.

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Review the strategies in this section. Which would best support student learning? How? Which are best suited to your content area in education?

Video: Managing Online Discussions

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By Dr. Bonk, Indiana University

As we have read in previous sections, the instructor must find a special balance between being too interactive and not being interactive enough. Following are some indirect ways of pushing and advancing student learning in the discussions without always appearing to be directing them.

Questioning Strategies: There are a variety of questioning strategies, such as Socratic questioning, that allow the instructor to help push student learning in online courses. The idea is that through asking the students specific questions about what they say, they will eventually lead themselves to the right answer. The following research paper covers these strategies in detail.

Lead the Horse to Water: You will quickly note that some students have missed the point, missed a needed conclusion, have a misconception, or just do not know their facts. This could be due to prior learning that is a barrier to them learning new information, due to them just reading an erroneous source online, or because they did not prepare for class. It is important to catch these discussion errors and moderate them early so that other students in the same course are not also erroneously led along the same logical fallacies. The problem, though, always rests in that people do not like to be told they are wrong. If you reply “that is wrong” the student is likely to feel publicly attacked in front of their peers and will either become defensive, or close up and not post anything more. Therefore, there are more subtle and indirect ways of leading the student to the right information without directly telling them.

Example: John writes “Climate change is just a hoax propagated by crazy environmentalists that want to prohibit the smooth running of our economy.”

Problems with the post: Hearsay. Unfounded. Jargon. Not academic. Claims without support. False information contrary to what experts in the field and the textbook say. The issue, though, is that climate change is a sensitive and heated subject. The professor would need to find an innovative indirect way of getting the student to learn the right material on their own because telling them is probably going to make them angry or defensive.

Ways the instructor might reply:

  • Hello John. Thank you for your post. You made some claims but did not offer support or facts to back them up. Can you reply to me here with some specific facts and resources to support your points? What does our book say on the topic?
  • Hello John. Thank you for your post. I would like to direct you to pg XX in our textbook. Read that page. What does the author say on this topic? What do you think?
  • Hello John. Thank you for your post. I think that NASA has some very interesting data concerning climate change. Take a look at this link and tell me what you think? http://climate.nasa.gov/

Create Connections: Reply to student threads with useful resources, information, and relevant topics that help them connect their learning.

  • You wrote about X, and at this weblink/online-resource they say X, what do you think?
  • This reminds me of. . .
  • Did you see that X wrote on this, what did you think of his/her conclusions?
  • Go view this X thread, as it relates to what you say here on X. . .
  • I see you talked about X, how does that relate to X on pg X of our book?
  • See this X thread/link/news as it is relevant to what you say about X. . .

Advanced Discussion Methods to Expand Learning

Following are some advanced techniques for really pushing student learning to new and higher levels of understand- ing. They help take a boring, simple discussion and make it more interesting, fun, interactive, and meaningful for students.

  1. Increasingly challenging questions: Some instructors like to scaffold the discussions in a way that also builds knowledge from the general to the specific or from lower to higher orders of learning.
    • How this works:
      • The instructor may start the students on a simple discussion question that only requires lower levels of thinking, such as knowledge (remembering) and comprehension (understanding) (Bloom’s Taxonomy).
      • This starts the discussion on a lower level of learning so that students begin to build their knowledge and thoughts on the topic.
      • The instructor posts and emails a summary of that discussion.
      • Then a second discussion question, due a few days later, may demand them to integrate and apply the knowledge from the first one in a more complex way.
      • The instructor posts and emails a summary of that discussion.
      • Then a third discussion question may advance this learning strategy further, or require them to summarize, integrate, and analyze what they have learned even further.
  2. Role-play / Conference: Some instructors assign roles or characters to students and then give them scenarios to act out in the online discussion forums. Note that these are great alternative assessment methods and help to really learn how much the students know about a given topic. An important tactic to keep in mind is in conferences and role-play scenarios, it is best to survey the students prior to assigning roles and to purposely put the students into roles that are new or different than the student’s own personal views or values. Meaning, for example, make a democrat play the role of a republican, or young person play the role of an elderly resident. This way the participants are forced to learn about new views and opposite viewpoints than they already had, thus expanding their overall learning on the topic much more than if they only debated, defended, or played a role already in-line with their current worldviews.
    • Examples for Ideas:
      • Middle East Studies Course: The instructor assigns students to be different country leaders in the Middle East, the students study the politics of their assigned country, and then have an online ’United Nations Peace Conference’ in the discussion forums concerning conflicts over land and water rights.
      • Educational Psychology Course: The instructor assigns students to be different famous educa- tional psychologists from different eras and/or disciplines. Students study up on the views and research of their psychologist, and then in the forums ’acts out’ that person’s views on specific questions or debates.
      • Environmental Science Course: The instructor creates a role-play about use of pesticides in a small community. Students are given different roles, such as the concerned house mom, the business owner that sells the chemicals, or the corporation manager that exports the chemicals. They then interact through questions and concerns about the chemicals and learn about different stakeholder interests.
  3. Discussions as a Data Source: Some instructors use the discussion forums as a research area for students. Students generate resources and information, the instructor can moderate it and comment on it, and then students can use that information to formulate essays, work, or assignments.
    • How this works:
      • The instructor creates a discussion forum on a given topic, and assigns students to list one fact and one web resource on the topic.
      • A few days later, the students might then participate in a second forum in which they summarize the information generated in the first one.
      • The students might then be required to complete a project, paper, or essay on the topic using at least three of the things they learned about during the data-driven discussions.
      • This scaffolds their learning and also ensures they use more reputable/approved sources of knowl- edge because the instructor had a chance to review them in advance.
  4. Web 2.0: Many online Web 2.0 tools can be used to create fun and interactive online discussions. For example, Twitter is often used as a live synchronous ’Tweet Chat’ where a question is asked and the participants respond to the hashtag with comments and thoughts.
  5. Leadership Development.: An excellent tactic is to make students a leader in the discussions, which also attends to encouraging students to be in charge of their own learning. This tactic motivates them to learn at least one topic fully, and by teaching others they show their grasp of the subject as well as learn leadership skills.
    • How this works
      • The instructor creates a schedule of important key course topics. This could, for example, take the form of one topic per week of the
      • The students then sign up during the first week to lead one weekly online
      • They are given clear, concise, and precise guidelines on how to prepare for their leadership week. These directions should include a grading rubric outlining how their work and participation will be assessed.
      • A week prior to their leadership week, the instructor connects with them either f2f or online to discuss their The student is in charge of designing the weekly discussion question, but the instructor should review it prior to the student posting it.
      • On the prescribed week, the student posts the initial discussion question and is then the leader for that topic, helping to guide and advance the discussion. They are expected to show that they are a leader/expert in that particular
      • The instructor would moderate and interact as well, but more in the backseat, leaving the student to complete their leadership
      • This is an alternative assessment measurement method that can be easily and conveniently assigned to any
  1. Cross-pollination: Cross-pollination is a discussion sharing tactic from The World Cafe . It is the idea that key concepts, ideas, and conclusions from small groups can integrate into others, all in the confines of more intimate discussions without the overwhelming feeling coming from larger group discussions. This concept is practiced by The World Ca at in-person sessions, however a variation on this method can also be practiced in online discussions.
    • How this works:
      • In a blended course the instructor may introduce key discussion topics in the classroom, get the discussion started, and then continue it in the online
      • In the learning management system (LMS) for the course, the instructor then creates smaller groups of 5-10 people and has them start on a specific question related to the classroom discussions and lectures. The instructor may even vary the question slightly from group to group so that different people obtain different conclusions and
      • Then, after a given time, the instructor changes the groups and puts students into new groups, and continues the same discussion questions, but now with slightly modified group
      • The instructor may do this several times, and slowly the ideas of everyone will cross-pollinate across the groups, but done so through smaller learning sessions easier for the students to

Summary

Online discussions can just be a place to answer some questions and get some points or they can form a part of a transformative learning process for students to enhance their knowledge of the topic through social learning. In a transformative experience one is forced to question his or her thinking, to integrate new information, and to (hope- fully) create new conclusions and thinking processes that include the newly learned information. Through creating high quality discussion questions that engage students, and asking them to think beyond the normal boundaries they are used to, and then moderating interactive and substantive online discussions, the instructor can help students achieve higher levels of learning both inside and outside the face-to-face classroom.

Tweet Chat: #virtuolearn

Review the advanced discussion methods section from the text. Which of the techniques appeals to your teaching philosophy and why? Are some approaches best suited to some learning processes over others, such as inquiry-based learning or project-based learning? Which suit which? Why?

CRITICAL THINKING

  1. Think of a topic you that would be appropriate for an online discussion. Write down the goals of the unit or activity. Then develop three questions that map directly back to the overall learning goals, and that will help guide your students to comprehensively address the topic.
  2. Choose two ’directed tactics’ and two ’avoiding burnout’ tactics from this section, and discuss how you might employ each in your course discussions.
  3. Using the three questions you developed in the first critical thinking question, develop guidelines, policies and a rubric that would help students engage in the discussion and support learning success.

CHAPTER TASK

Chapter Task

(Video) Designing Engaging Learning Activities

Review the Advanced Discussion methods in this chapter. Take your work from the critical thinking questions and expand on it. Use each of the critical thinking questions to guide you though the design of one advanced discussion method to implement into your classroom.

Be sure to include the directions students would need, the grading rubric, resources required, requirements, policies, and other information the students would need to be successful.

RECOMMENDED RESOURCES

The World Cafe: http://www.theworldcafe.com/

Critical Thinking in Asynchronous Discussions: http://www.itdl.org/Journal/Jun_05/article02.htm

References

Bedi, L. (2008). Best practices of faculty in facilitating online asynchronous discussions for higher student satisfaction. U21Global.

Blau, P. G. (2009). Online teaching effectiveness: A tale of two instructors. International review of research in open and distance learning, 10(3), 1-27.

Dennen, V. P. (2005). From message posting to learning dialogues: Factors affecting learner participation in asynchronous discussion. Distance Education, 26(1), 127-148.

Massolini, M., & Maddison, S. (2007). When to jump in: The role of the instructor in online discussion forums.

Computers Education, 49(2), 193-213.

Palloff, R. M., & Pratt, K. (2007). Building online learning communities: Effective strategies for the virtual classroom. San Francisco, CA: John Wiley Sons, Inc.

Picciano, A., G. (2002). Beyond student perceptions: Issues of interaction, presence, and performance in an online course. Asynchronous Learning Networks, 6(1), 21-40.

Rourke, L., & Anderson, T. (2002). Exploring social interaction in computer conferencing. Interactive Learning Research, 13(3), 257-273.

Richardson, J., C., and Swan, K., P. (2003). Examining social presence in online courses in relation to students’ perceived learning and satisfaction. Asynchronous Learning Networks, 7(1), 68-88.

Shea, P. J., Li, C. S., & Pickett, A. (2006). A study of teaching presence and student sense of learning community in fully online and web-enhanced college courses. Internet and Higher Education, 9(3), 175-190.

Simonson, M., & Schlosser, L. A. (2006). Distance education: Definition and glossary of term (2nd Ed). Greenwich Connecticut: Information Age Publishing.

Simonson, M., Smaldino, S., Albright, M., & Zvacek, S. (2009). Teaching and learning at a distance: Foundations of distance education. (4th ed). New York: Pearson.

(Video) Intro to remote online delivery GCSE and A level

Wang, Y. M., & Chen, D. V. (2008). Essential elements in designing online discussions to promote cognitive presence—A practical experience. Asynchronous Learning Networks, 12(3-4), 157-177.

Wang, Y. M., & Chen, D. V. (2011). Overcoming the dilemma of instructor presence in student-centered online discussions. Journal of Educational Multimedia and Hypermedia (2011), 20(4), 425-438.

FAQs

What are the characteristics of an effective online discussion? ›

Online discussion forums are a major collaboration component in most online and hybrid courses.
...
Here are a few suggestions to keep in mind as you design your online discussion forums.
  • Develop creative questions. ...
  • Define clear expectations. ...
  • Provide feedback. ...
  • Assign peer groups. ...
  • Track student participation.
18 Nov 2019

What is the effectiveness of virtual learning? ›

Online learning is not only more effective for students, but it is also better for the environment. Online courses consume 90% less energy and release 85% less CO2 per student than traditional in-person courses, according to the Open University in the United Kingdom.

What is the discussion of online learning? ›

Online discussion is a commonly used means to promote student understanding of a topic and to facilitate social interaction among students or between students and instructor; however, its effects on student learning in online learning environments have rarely been investigated.

What are some examples of effective online teaching practices? ›

Examples of effective online teaching strategies
  • Humanize late policies for better learning.
  • Scaffold final projects to improve learning.
  • Small things, big impacts.
  • Strengthening human connection to improve online learning.
  • Use Yellowdig to Build Community.
  • Using Repeated Practice.
  • Welcoming Online Students.

What are the elements of effective discussions? ›

Some key elements to consider when planning a discussion include 1) Ground rules, 2) Intentional preparation, 3) A strong start, 4) A continuous flow that stays on point, 5) Full participation by each student in the class, 6) A concise wrap-up.

What is an effective discussion? ›

In order for a discussion to be effective, students need to understand the value of actively listening to their peers, tolerating opposing viewpoints, and being open-minded. They also need to recognize the importance of staying focused and expressing themselves clearly.

How can effectiveness of online learning be improved? ›

Embracing digital communication through emails, student chat rooms, social media channels, online forums, and more, is the key to increasing the effectiveness of online learning. Students can interact with classmates and raise doubts relevant to the course and assignments.

What are the 10 benefits of online classes? ›

What are the Benefits of Online Classes for Students?
  • The “Home” Advantage. Digital learning has made learning interesting and fun for students. ...
  • Escape the Traffic. ...
  • Saves your Time and Money. ...
  • Best Online Guidance. ...
  • Instant Doubt Resolution. ...
  • Increased Convenience and Flexibility. ...
  • Enhances Self-Discipline. ...
  • Optimises focus.

Why are discussions important in online learning? ›

Discussion is a powerful tool for online learning. It can help foster a sense of community and encourage peer to peer interaction and improve learner engagement. Discussion can take the form of debate or reflective sharing, giving learners the opportunity to expand upon and clarify their understanding of key ideas.

Why are discussions important in an online class? ›

The purpose of using discussions in an online course is to provide opportunities for students to interact with each other, the content, and the instructor. A discussion forum is a communication tool for dialogue in an online course. They can be initiated with a structured post and categorized along a message thread.

What are the benefits of online discussions? ›

7 Advantages of Online Discussion
  • Convenience. Online discussions generally can be set for a time convenient for everyone. ...
  • More Focused. ...
  • More in Depth. ...
  • More Introverted Students Participate More. ...
  • More Diverse Perspectives. ...
  • Increased Ability to Limit Remarks That Aren't Constructive. ...
  • More Readily Available Resources.

What are the 8 effective teaching practices? ›

  • Eight Effective. Teaching Practices. ...
  • Implement tasks that promote reasoning and problem solving.
  • Use and connect. mathematical. ...
  • Facilitate meaningful. mathematical. ...
  • Pose purposeful questions.
  • Build procedural fluency from conceptual understanding.
  • Support productive. ...
  • Elicit and use evidence of student thinking.

What are the 9 strategies for effective online teaching? ›

Strategies for Teaching Online
  • Writing your syllabus. ...
  • Working with Teaching Assistants. ...
  • Creating inclusive and equitable online learning environments. ...
  • Engaging discussions online. ...
  • Promote student well-being. ...
  • Facilitating effective online meetings. ...
  • Other resources.

What are the 5 tips to be successful in online learning? ›

  • Create a schedule and manage your time wisely. Keep a semester and a weekly calendar. ...
  • Stay organized and be thorough. Have a designated study space that is free of distractions so you can focus on your work. ...
  • Remain engaged throughout the whole course. ...
  • Take care of yourself. ...
  • Know where to turn for help.
5 Aug 2022

What are the 5 types of discussion? ›

Description These five types of open-ended, level three questions (enduring, critical, hypothetical, metacognitive, & socratic) provide students with structured ways to format ideas and facilitate higher-level discussion.

What are 4 effective group discussion techniques? ›

Do:
  • Model the behavior and attitudes you want group members to employ. ...
  • Use encouraging body language and tone of voice, as well as words. ...
  • Give positive feedback for joining the discussion. ...
  • Be aware of people's reactions and feelings, and try to respond appropriately. ...
  • Ask open-ended questions. ...
  • Control your own biases.

What are 4 types of discussion? ›

Based on direction and tone, I grouped conversations into four types: debate, dialogue, discourse, and diatribe. Debate is a competitive, two-way conversation. The goal is to win an argument or convince someone, such as the other participant or third-party observers.

Why is discussion an effective teaching strategy? ›

Using discussions as a primary teaching method allows you to stimulate critical thinking. As you establish a rapport with your students, you can demonstrate that you appreciate their contributions at the same time that you challenge them to think more deeply and to articulate their ideas more clearly.

How is discussion method effective? ›

The collaborative nature of the Discussion Method teaches students to work as a team to problem solve in real time. In this way, the Discussion Method sharpens students' ability to think on their feet, to ask probing questions, to build arguments and counterarguments, and to learn from opposing viewpoints.

What are effective discussion questions? ›

Start with Open-Ended Questions – these types of questions help begin a discussion because they encourage multiple viewpoints. They also tend to invite students to share their opinions, which can generate additional topics or define crucial issues.

How do you create a successful online learning environment? ›

Main strategies for success in the online learning environment are the following:
  1. Keep Learners Involved;
  2. Keep Content Relevant to Learners' Objective;
  3. Make Learners Get Familiar with Course Outline;
  4. Incorporate Assessments and Quizzes at the End of Every Lesson or Module;
  5. Make Collaboration Work.
4 May 2018

What is the most effective way to engage learners in virtual session? ›

Here are 9 ways to keep the learners engaged during virtual training sessions.
  1. Set Expectations up Front. ...
  2. Engage Within First Few Minutes. ...
  3. Ask for Engagement Every 10 Minutes. ...
  4. Wait for Responses. ...
  5. Create Feedback Loops. ...
  6. Use Technology That Works. ...
  7. Use Pre-Recorded Videos and Games. ...
  8. Be Conversational.
10 Aug 2022

What are benefits of online learning at least 120 words? ›

Paragraph 2 – 120 Words
  • Timing Friendly: Some vocational courses or regular courses provide an option to study online. ...
  • Reduce the Reachability Issue: Students can attend classes from their homes. ...
  • Saves Money: For users and teachers, both points of view online classes are cheaper than traditional classes.
25 Aug 2021

What are the 5 advantages and disadvantages of online classes? ›

Online education must support the social aspect of learning to match the effectiveness of traditional classes.
  • Online Learning Requires Self-Discipline. ...
  • Online Learning Requires Additional Training for Instructors. ...
  • Online Classes Are Prone to Technical Issues. ...
  • Online Learning means more screen-time.
28 Dec 2021

How do discussions help students learning? ›

Whole-class discussions can encourage students to learn from one another and to articulate course content in their own words. While generally not conducive to covering large amounts of content, the interactive dynamic of discussion can help students learn and motivate them to complete homework and to prepare for class.

How do you engage students in online discussions? ›

Nine simple ways to increase student engagement in online discussion forums:
  1. Attach Photos, Images, Videos, Tweets, Links, etc,: ...
  2. Read All the Posts: ...
  3. Respond to Students with a Question, Affirmation, or Feedback: ...
  4. Ask Questions and Challenge Your Students to Think: ...
  5. If a Discussion Is Lagging, Try Re-Framing the Question:
22 Feb 2022

How do you engage online discussions? ›

Create engaging discussions
  1. Quality over quantity.
  2. Provide effective discussion prompts.
  3. Set clear expectations.
  4. Encourage peer-to-peer learning.
  5. Feedback and summarise.
16 Nov 2021

What are the benefits of discussions for students like you? ›

The advantages include: Increases students' interests and engagement – lectures mixed with discussions can help maintain students' focus. As they discuss their answers, they get different perspectives on the topic. Good questions and answers can get students to think deeply and make connections.

What is the purpose of discussion in teaching? ›

Discussion methods are a variety of forums for open-ended, collaborative exchange of ideas among a teacher and students or among students for the purpose of furthering students thinking, learning, problem solving, understanding, or literary appreciation.

What are the benefits of discussion skills? ›

It improves your thinking, listening and speaking skills. It also promotes your confidence level. It is an effective tool in problem solving, decision making and personality assessment. GD skills may ensure academic success, popularity and good admission or job offer.

What are the different types of discussions? ›

These different types of discussions serve different purposes, are useful in different phases of a lesson or unit, and have different characteristics depending on their purpose.
  • Discussion Type Summary. Initial Ideas Discussions. ...
  • Building Understanding Discussion. Purposes/Goals. ...
  • Consensus Discussion. ...
  • Consensus Discussion.

What are the 6 teaching strategies? ›

Specifically, six key learning strategies from cognitive research can be applied to education: spaced practice, interleaving, elaborative interrogation, concrete examples, dual coding, and retrieval practice.

What are the 6 teaching methods? ›

6 effective teaching methods and how to use them
  • Online learning. ...
  • Experiential learning. ...
  • Differentiation. ...
  • Blended learning. ...
  • Game-based learning. ...
  • Student-centred learning.
27 Oct 2021

What are the 6 key points of teaching? ›

Six Principles for Teacher Education
  • Knowledge. Effective teachers possess a well-grounded knowledge of the content areas that are central to their teaching. ...
  • Learning Environment. ...
  • Personalized Learning. ...
  • Community. ...
  • Critical Reflection. ...
  • Growth.

What are the 7 methods of teaching? ›

List Of Teaching Methods
  • Teacher-Centered Instruction. ...
  • Small Group Instruction. ...
  • Student-Centered / Constructivist Approach. ...
  • Project-Based Learning. ...
  • Montessori. ...
  • Inquiry-Based Learning. ...
  • Flipped Classroom. ...
  • Cooperative Learning.

What are the 7 domains of effective teaching? ›

The 7 domains are as follows: Domain 1 – Content Knowledge and Pedagogy, Domain 2 – Learning Environment, Domain 3 – Diversity of Learners, Domain 4 – Curriculum and Planning, Domain 5 – Assessment and Reporting, Domain 6 – Community Linkages and Professional Engagement, Domain 7 – Personal Growth and Professional ...

What are the key factors to improve online learning? ›

All in all, there seem to be five key success factors with regard to online studying. There are the cognitive and social factors, the role of the instructor, self-regulated learning skills, and the platform's ease of use.

What are the characteristics of effective online students? ›

The online environment should be open and friendly.
  • Written Communication. Be able to communicate through writing. ...
  • Support Yourself. Be self-motivated and self-disciplined. ...
  • Speak Up. Be willing to “speak up” if problems arise. ...
  • Commit Time. ...
  • Meet Requirements. ...
  • Accept Crucial Skills. ...
  • Think Through Ideas. ...
  • Embrace Online Learning.

What are the characteristics of online learning? ›

Characteristics of Online Learner
  • Initiative: Online students motivate themselves to learn. ...
  • Persistence: Persistence is holding steadfastly and firmly to a purpose. ...
  • Organization: One of the most vital characteristics needed for online learning is organization. ...
  • Engagement: Online learning does not mean on your own.

What are the characteristics of online classes? ›

Characteristics of an Online Class

Students take quizzes/exams online or through a proctored exam site such a library. Activities are student centered rather than instructor centered. Group projects aid in student collaboration. Discussion boards add peer and instructor feedback capabilities.

What is an effective online learning environment? ›

Online Learning Environment and Strategies for Success. A strong course outline, well-organized content, clear instructions, collaborative learning and timely feedbacks are just some of the many online learning strategies that work as the building blocks for an online course management plan.

What are the benefits of online learning for students? ›

Benefits of Online Learning – 16 Advantages to Learning Online
  • You don't need to relocate. ...
  • Learn new technical skills. ...
  • Enhance your communication skills. ...
  • Develop self-motivation and self-discipline. ...
  • Reduce stress. ...
  • Cook at home more instead of eating out. ...
  • Expand your horizons.

What are the essential keys to success in online learning? ›

The ability to be independent and self-directed in your learning while effectively managing time is key to success in online learning. To be successful, you will need to have self-discipline and self-motivation to regularly login to the course, monitor deadlines, and complete your course work regularly.

What are the strategies in teaching online learning? ›

Strategies for Teaching Online: How to Build Rapport and Community with Students
  • Incorporate purposeful free time.
  • Have a regular show and tell.
  • Utilize a class message board.
  • EdTech Digital Promise Framework.
  • Stay communicative:
  • Continuously adapt your classroom:
  • Keep activities interesting with students:
1 Mar 2022

What are the 8 traits of effective teaching? ›

Eight Essential Traits for Educators
  • Empathy and compassion. ...
  • The ability to let students experiment, while keeping them focused. ...
  • A belief in the power of the arts (and play) for learning. ...
  • A sense of fairness and social justice. ...
  • A willingness to learn from your students. ...
  • A desire for continuous improvement.

What are the methods of online learning? ›

Types of Online Learning
  • Asynchronous Online Courses. These types of course offerings do not take place in real–time. ...
  • Synchronous Online Courses. ...
  • Hybrid Courses. ...
  • Providing Continuity. ...
  • Distributing Materials. ...
  • Creating Content. ...
  • Curating Content. ...
  • Fostering Collaboration.

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