Faculty Development & Learning Assessment

Learning & Teaching Topics

Leading Successful On-line Discussions


On-line discussions can be utilized in both distance-learning courses as well as traditional face-to-face classes. Discussions can be synchronous (where everyone meets for discussion at the same time) or asynchronous (where people access the website and comment at any time within a specific time frame).


On-line discussion allows quieter students to have their voices heard and gives all students more time to formulate insightful and thoughtful commentary and opinions, enhancing critical thinking and in-depth engagement with course material. Tracking participation is also simplified with on-line discussion, as the asynchronous forums are archived for the semester and can be easily accessed and tabulated.


Topic References

Penn State Learning Design Community Hub. (2008). Introduction to Crafting Questions for On-line Discussions. Retrieved May 15, 2009, from Penn State Web site: http://ets.tlt.psu.edu/learningdesign/crafting_question

University of Washington. (2002). Engaging Students in Online Discussion. Teaching and Learning Bulletin 6(2). Retrieved May 15, 2009, from Center for Instructional Development and Research Web site: http://depts.washington.edu/cidrweb/Bulletin/OnlineDiscussion.pdf

Vanderbilt University. (n.d.). Online Writing. Retrieved May 15, 2009, from Vanderbilt Center for Teaching Web site: http://www.vanderbilt.edu/cft/resources/teaching_resources/technology/online_writing.htm#threads

HSU Connection

Moodle offers ways for instructors to set up asynchronous forums and synchronous chats. Chats allow students to receive instant feedback and responses while forums allow for more insightful and thoughtful responses as students can spend much more time formulating responses.