Other Ways to Use Discussions
Although this module has emphasized discussions to promote critical thinking, online discussions can be used in a variety of ways that build community, promote interactivity, and support active learning. While you may not grade these (other than class participation), they make a significant contribution to the online learning experience.
- Use the discussion board for building community by providing a place for students to introduce themselves, meet, and share questions and ideas. This is especially important at the beginning of the semester.
- Sometimes, instead of formulating a question, have students create two or three multiple choice questions on a chapter or reading. Have them explain why it is important to know the answers to these questions.
- Use the discussion board for collaborative and group projects. In some classes, you may even want to experiment with letting students lead and moderate discussion.
- Use discussions as a "Classroom Assessment Technique." For example, you can have students read a chapter and then by midweek, post the "muddiest point" to the discussion board. This gives you a chance to see where students need additional help. It also allows students to help each other.
- Use the discussion board for brainstorming activities where students come up with topics for research, ways of solving problems, or various ways of looking at topics.
- Set up writing groups on the discussion board where students can review and critque each other's work during the writing process.
- Create a discussion forum for "Online Learning Tips." This is where students with online experience can post tips for success in online. Those who are new to the online envrionment may benefit from the advice of experienced online students.
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