to promote online discussions
- Be clear about
your expectations. Many experienced online teachers have found that
requiring online participation is necessary to encourage student participation.
If this type of discussion is an important aspect of your course it
probably warrants marks. State your grading criteria (be specific) for
- Many instructors
specify a required minimum number of weekly student contributions to
the discussions. Assess the quality as well as the quantity of contributions.
- Provide a schedule
of discussion/unit topics. You may find that having end dates to specific
discussions keeps the number you have to read at course end down. In
addition it will help students stay up to date with course materials.
- Students often
need structure so you may find that starting major topic threads (at
least initially) helps get the discussion going.
- Be present in
the discussion. By being present (3 - 5 times per week) your students
will know that you are visible and available and more likely to engage
in the discussion. Lead by example.
- Create a forum
or discussion thread for casual conversation and questions. Use this
forum at the beginning of the class as a place where students introduce
themselves and respond to other students. Take the time to respond to
each student. This type of forum helps build a community of learners
and can alleviate some of the feelings of isolation distance learners
- Don't dominate
the discussion (the goal is dialogue not monologue). Also, if certain
students are dominating the discussion, email them privately and ask
them to back off a little.
- Form small learning
groups or teams. Learning triads (groups of three students) have been
shown to be effective in encouraging participation. As in a face-to-face
setting, group learning provides the learner with peer support and a
sense of responsibility to the group to keep up with activities.
- Consider posting
a weekly or (by topic) summary of the class discussion. You may want
to assign this as a student project, depending on your learner group.
This type of posting provides learners with closure and helps to ensure
a common level of understanding.
out our specific activities to promote
online discussion page for some more ideas.
to "Tips and Strategies" page]
you think of any thing else?
us know, and we'll add them to our list.