Online Discussions – Tips for Successful Discussions

Successful online discussions involve a number of considerations or features not unlike those for discussions a face-to-face setting. However, online discussions also have some unique features that require different strategies, such as the following:

  • Provide simple yet easily accessible instructions so that all learners understand the expectations held of them regarding each discussion.
  • Define several mini-deadlines that structure the conversation. For example, a few days after an initial post, require students to respond to at least two or three other students.
  • Consider assembling smaller group discussions to encourage depth of conversation and relationship building, while minimizing the overall number of posts to read.
  • Model interaction in online discussions and provide clear expectations about message content and frequency.
  • Develop questions that provide room for students to personalize their post in a way that encourages responses from peers.
  • Award credit. Discussion posts will not get a student’s best effort if points are not awarded in alignment with the time and energy invested.
  • Pose questions and scenarios that invite learners to draw on their own experience.
  • Use open-ended questions or issues to stimulate divergent viewpoints and multiple perspectives.