Teacher Tap

discussionCourse Discussion

Class discussions are one of the most popular activities in online courses, book clubs, seminars, and conferences. However without careful planning, they can bore participants and be viewed a "busy" work rather than meaningful learning experiences.

Forums can range from free-flow sharing of ideas to highly structured activities. However it's important to identify the specific purpose of the discussion and design assignments and assessment that reflect this need. To accomplish the course goals, it's also necessary for the instructor to carefully monitor and manage the discussions.

Technology for Online Discussions

There are many online tools for coordinating online discussions.

First, consider whether an existing service might be used. For instance, if you're developing an online book club, you might use an existing service such as LibraryThing or setup group at Goodreads as the forum tool for your discussions.

Second, use an online service that specializes in groups and forums such as Google Groups or Yahoo Groups.

Third, if you want to do more than simply hold a discussion, consider a course management tool for nonprofits such as NiceNet. Or, a social network builder such as Ning.

Fourth, if you have access to your own web server consider a open source software such as the course management system Moodle or the forum tool phpBB.

ExampleExplore Examples
I want to create an online book club. I've been looking at LibraryThing and Goodreads for topic ideas. From discussions about Thrillers and True Crime to a focus on cookbooks, the range of topics is amazing.

The Cs of Discussions

Be sure that your discussions are part of the larger learning experience. Consider the C's of Discussions:

Read the following pages to learn about integrating discussions into your online course:

| eduScapes | IUPUI Online Courses | Activate | 42eXplore | About Us | Contact Us | © 1999-2010 Annette Lamb, Larry Johnson, and William L. Smith