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Using Online Discussions

Online discussions can be an important part of the interactivity of your course and make a major contribution to the sense of community among students as well as the extension of learning. But building good discussions and managing them requires more than just posting a question for discussion. You need to plan for meaningful discussion as part of your overall course design.

You can think of discussions a little like test questions. Some simply ask for recall of information, like the first level of Bloom's taxonomy, but others require a much deeper level of application and synthesis of ideas and thinking. It is toward this higher level of thinking that you want to build your discussions, and it is with these higher-level questions that students gain the most from your course.

The beauty of online discussions is that your students can build thoughtful responses to questions and other students' posts rather than the off-the-top-of-the-head answers you often get when you ask a question in a face-to-face class. Again, it is these applications of knowledge acquired through other activities like reading assignments that can be the cornerstone of learning in your course.

Some Principles for Using and Managing Discussions

Use discussions for building a learning community

Use discussions to further learning

Some Practical Suggestions