Facilitate the Discussion Forum
Even when you set the ground rules and construct a thought-provoking question, there is no guarantee that learning will take place. In addition, you cannot assume that students actually know how to conduct an online discussion. Most students probably approach learning as memorizing facts for a test rather discovering how to apply knowledge to analyze and solve problems. As the instructor, you will need to facilitate the discussion and guide students through the learning process. Facilitating a discussion, however, may be more of an art than a science. There will be times when you need to be very involved in the discussion while at other times you need to step back. You will need to participate in the discussions without dominating them or suppressing diverse ideas and opinions. The video tutorial presented later will provide some good ideas for facilitating discussions. Generally, there is agreement that to guide discussions effectively, instructors will need to:
- Expect to spend more time in the first discussion as you may need to answer technical questions and help students get started with using the discussion board.
- Make sure that you are are competent with the technical aspects of managing discussions.
- Ask follow up questions and provide guidance that keeps the discussion focused.
- Use Socratic questioning to push students to critical reflection.
- Be ready to deal with negative postings and correct misinformation
- Identify students who are not participating and through private e-mail encourage participation
- Acknowledge exemplary contributions.
- Set aside time in your schedule to read and respond to discussions.
Continue to the next page for considerations about assessing discussions.