For the next couple of weeks, COLRS will be sending out a Teaching Remotely Tip of the Day that comes from the most frequently asked questions by faculty.  All Remote Teaching Tips are archived on the COLRS blog. The Teaching Remotely at UIS website is another starting point for faculty who are converting their courses to alternative formats.  This week, open Office Hours will be hosted by COLRS staff daily at 10 am for faculty to ask pedagogy-related questions.  In addition, you may call COLRS at 217-206-7317 or e-mail to schedule a one-to-one meeting with any COLRS staff member.  

In online courses, and now with “remote delivery” of previously face-to-face courses, discussion forums provide a place for student-to-student and instructor-to-student interaction. Within discussion forums, students share thoughts and review the ideas of others modeled through collegial, dialogic exchanges. Research shows the benefits of discussions for student engagement and learning.

To help alleviate discussion board burn-out, here are some recommendations and resources that will help us keep our discussions fresh and prevent excessive workload:

  1. Post the rules of netiquette and behavior expectations at the start of class.
  2. Encourage students to introduce themselves and meet one another to form a learning community where they will feel safe to share and discuss.
  3. Develop discussion questions that allow the student to critically reflect on the material and synthesize it with their own experiences.
  4. Encourage students to participate early and often.
  5. Create their presence in the classroom but not interfere with the flow of the discussion.
  6. Intervene when the discussion is veering off in the wrong direction and help move the discussion back on track.
  7. Ensure that the discussion forum is a safe learning environment.
  8. Promote further thinking and reflection by posing more thoughtful and engaging questions within any given discussion.

Additional resources:

Successful Strategies for Creating Online Discussion Prompts.  

CREST+ Model: Writing Effective Online Discussion Questions by Lynn Akin and Diane Neal.

Peer Assessment. A Module Lesson .

Student Peer Assessment by Louise Lutze-Mann