Internal - Faculty & Staff

Using Forums Effectively

State Your Expectations

Explicitlystate your expectations regarding student participation in online discussions at the beginning of the course. This might include:

  • Providing a requirement for how many times or how frequently you want students to post to the discussion board.
  • Specifying the preferred post length (within a range).
  • Providing an example of a response that demonstrates the desired quality of content.

Craft Your Questions

When utilizing discussion boards, it is imperative that you carefully craft your questions in a way that will help foster meaningful discussion. Well-written questions not only help students understand content on a basic level, but also can guide them to think critically about the content.

Opportunity for Varied Responses 

Create discussion topics that provide ample opportunity for students to respond with their personal reflections and insight.

Moderate, Don’t Dominate

To moderate a discussion, look at where the momentum of the conversation heads, and if it isn’t moving in the direction you’;re looking for, then intervene with a comment that brings the conversation back to the content by tying in evidence to the course materials.

Be prepared to moderate but not dominate the conversation. The way students learn best online is when they learn from each other. Sometimes it’s best to take a step back, watch the discussion, and let students answer one another’s questions, rather than chiming in.  Develop and publish strategies that ensure the following:

  • The conversation keeps student-centered.
  • The discussion promotes continued exploration of the topic at hand.
  • Conversations are manageable from a time perspective.
  • Students are aware of your presence.
  • You are able to step in to correct misconceptions where appropriate.

Summarize & Synthesize 

For longer discussions, provide a summary of the important ideas that are presented throughout the conversation to allow for easy synthesizing and review of the concepts covered.

Creative Delivery Approaches 

Mix it up by employing the creative delivery methods for forums. For details and examples see Forums: Creative Delivery Methods and Examples

Forums as Assessment

Provide clear expectations for how discussions will be graded.