Discussion and Collaboration Strategies

Given that discussion boards appear in nearly every online course, they are obviously universally viewed as useful learning activities. If you are not convinced, you are not alone. Many faculty feel their online discussions rarely elicit the engagement with course content they would like or provoke the type of nuanced conversations they intended. Yet, there are faculty who see discussion forums as a vital, foundational piece of any course. As with most tools, how it is used largely determines the results.

To get a sense of the more pedagogically useful ways to implement this staple of online teaching, along with other collaboration tools, be sure to check out the following resources in addition to our upcoming session.

For a general overview of various aspects of teaching online, see our page on Best Practices. In addition to details on an array of teaching practices and points of consideration, you will find links to useful resources from colleagues in several universities and organizations. Likewise, our wonderful colleagues at the Howe Center for Writing Excellence have put together a helpful list of resources and tips on how to Facilitate Effective Online Discussions.

To get a sense of how you might move beyond the more formulaic use of discussions and other collaborative assignments for your students, be sure to check out the Inside Higher Ed article for a sense of how other faculty are reworking and rethinking their approach, as well as some variations to consider.

Finally, for an informative perspective from a veteran online instructor and instructional designer on why online discussion forums are her favorite teaching tool, see her article in the Chronicle of Higher Education. It is a worthwhile explication of her assertion, "Learning how to use online class-discussion forums to their best advantage is probably the smartest, and easiest, thing you can do to improve your online teaching and your students' learning."

As always, feel free to contact us with any questions you may have. We look forward to seeing you in one of our upcoming sessions.

Discussion and Collaboration Strategies

Join us for the third installment of our series on Flexible Instruction. In this session, we explore ways to facilitate engaging online discussions and create effective opportunities for collaboration among your students. Join the conversation and share your experiences with us on Thursday, November 5, at 3pm.