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Online Discussion Success Strategies

Definition

Online Discussions (discussion board forums in Blackboard) are a form of online communication where an instructor posts topics or questions and students can post responses. Discussion forums provide a common “meeting place” on the Web. They also provide an opportunity for student-student contact and student-instructor contact at a time and place of convenience.

Strategies

Orientation:
In class, provide orientation and time for students to practice and master the technologies, particularly the online discussions they need to interact with each another.

Goals/Objectives:
Be certain about what you want to accomplish with any given Forum Assignment. What type of work do you want your students to do? Have a course goal/objective in mind.

Shirley Nuhn - Professor, ESL

Instructions:
Write clear instructions:

  • List all resources/equipment needed.
  • Provide specific sequence of the steps in process.
  • Tell students exactly what they must do to get full credit.
  • Make sure all grading criteria are clearly defined.
  • Give exact due dates and time required to complete tasks.
  • Speak personally to students; use a less formal tone.
  • Give examples of assignments if possible.

Expectations:
Clearly communicate your rules and expectations for participating (ex. frequency, length, number of responses, grading criteria, etc.).

Netiquette:
Clearly communicate “netiquette” rules.

Comments:
When you comment on student discussions:

  • Use the student's name.
  • Be positive; reassure and encourage him/her.
  • Be helpful; point out what’s working well and make specific observations.
  • Be challenging; ask clarifying questions and make suggestions.
  • Be dispassionate; don’t get angry!

Blending:
Blend the online discussion and face-to-face class by using student's responses, discussions, words or definitions to start a face-to-face discussion.


Some material adapted from Bim Angst Penn State Schuylkill: http://berks.psu.edu/hybrid/sessions.html

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