The following is mainly taken from

Facilitating discussions between students is one of those things that is infinitely easier when you’re teaching in a physical classroom rather than online. When the students are all in one room, discussions happen more naturally. Facilitating the same type of productive, useful discussion when teaching online is more of a challenge.

Mia MacMeekin takes a look at some tips and best practices for facilitating discussions when you’re teaching online and these have been supplemented by the findings of the CAPLeD eTeam.

22 tips for facilitating online discussion

  • Never leave a new discussion forum with the “Add a new discussion topic”
  • Use a description that will encourage engagement and make the description visible
  • Always start the discussion forum yourself with an open discussion point
  • Start reading posts early
  • Don’t answer your own questions directly
  • Give constructive feedback, public and private
  • Identify writing issues early
  • Participate frequently
  • Follow the rubric
  • Stimulate conversation
  • Make it real
  • Empower the students to share
  • Keep it alive
  • Praise well written arguments
  • Never criticise publicly
  • Never wait too long to stimulate discussion
  • Never take one side
  • Never discount someone’s experience
  • Never let inaccurate information go unnoticed
  • Give the students the permissions to rate each other’s postings
  • Consider using one discussion forum for the module and link to the individual discussion topics from within the module
  • Where appropriate set the forum such that the student does not see previous postings until they have posted first

11 prompts to stimulate conversation

  • Can you clarify?
  • Do you need anything else to answer this?
  • Do you think?
  • Do you agree with?
  • So are you saying?
  • Have you seen?
  • So on the news, I noticed something similar
  • What do your friends think?
  • Is there someone else you can ask?
  • Where did you hear that?
  • Do you have a reference for that?

Any other tips for facilitating a discussion forum? Tweet to @uwseteam


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