E-Learning Online Discussion Groups for Student
Seminar: Learning (E-Teaching Principles:
Communication, Community & Etiquette)
FOCUS How can instructors design Web-based discussion activities to
QUESTION promote and extend classroom discussions?
RELATED What are the similarities and differences in face-to-face and online
• Are online discussions appropriate for college students?
• What resources are available for instructors to use Web-based
• Should discussions be synchronous, asynchronous, or scheduled
• What are the important design features of online discussion activities?
• How can instructors manage discussions as instructional activities?
• How can instructors facilitate discussions as instructional activities?
WORKSHOP Participants will be able to utilize workshop concepts and worksheet to design
OBJECTIVES and write a prompt for a simulated discussion activity.
EXTENDED Instructors will be able to design online discussion activities to:
• obtain information from learners about themselves or about their
thoughts, opinions, and experiences;
• disseminate information to or among learners;
• provide an opportunity for creating community among learners;
• provide an environment for learners to make decisions;
• allow learners to share knowledge and learning;
• assess learner understanding while observing;
• validate learners’ understanding by providing feedback; and
• document discussions for possible extended use by students (e.g.,
content analysis, portfolio artifact, or referenced, argumentative, or
RESOURCES Worksheet (download and print ahead of time).
Lesson Plan (download and print ahead of time).
Wikiversity Course in Online Facilitation
Tips and Pointers on Discussions
Electronic Class Discussion From a Learning Perspective Handbook
Three important ways to nurture discussion
ACTIVITY Introduce the idea of using discussion forums in college education to promote
DESCRIPTION and extend classroom discussion. Teaching strategies: PowerPoint lecture &
• List and describe key online learning activity design characteristics, including
assignment instructions (prompt), method (e.g., asynchronous), time allowed
and scheduling, student motivation, instructor facilitation, feedback, and
assessment. Teaching strategies: PowerPoint lecture & worksheet
• Demonstrate online discussion activity design for sample student outcome
using discussion group planning worksheet Teaching strategies: worksheet &
• Collaborate on writing and refining prompt appropriate for sample student
outcome. Teaching strategies: oral discussion, e-board.
• Assess learning with one-item quiz. Evaluation strategy: open-ended question
• Report and debrief. Evaluation strategy: PowerPoint lecture & oral discussion
with hand raise.
• Evaluate the success of the E-Learning Workshop. Evaluation strategy:
emoticon polling & quiz.
EXTENSION Survey participants to find out what web-based discussion tools are available
IDEA in their educational systems, and what policies govern use of those systems.
• Have participants design and try out similar discussion group activity for
colleagues at own institutions.
TEACHING Underline the importance of E-Learning Principles of communication, community, and
TIPS (What netiquette
workshop Manage time carefully to include active participation through polling, Q&A, group
leader need to work and end-of-workshop evaluation.
be sure to do?)