Tips for Effective Online Discussions

As we close out 2018 and plan for the new year, I like to reflect back on teaching successes and challenges from the past year that can help me improve my teaching practices in my courses for the next year. Except for a few guest lecture spots, most of my teaching has been online since 2008. During this time I can say that I have become very aware of the definite similarities between face-to-face courses and online courses. The most significant similarity being capacity for making connections between instructor and students – and among students themselves – that can be fostered through class discussions. Of course, that is where the differences – and challenges – reside as well. Fostering those interpersonal connections while advancing learning in an online course takes strategic and significant effort on the part of the instructor – especially in the first few weeks as we get students acclimated to the learning environment and our expectations.

I could go on however, I am going to share the article “10 Tips for Effective Online Discussions” by Edwige Simon,┬áDirector of the Graduate Certificate in Language Teaching with Technology at the University of Colorado Boulder. Simon shares her experiences leading and managing discussions in her online courses along with a document that she uses to communicate discussion expectations and grading criteria to students.

Feel free to share your thoughts, reactions, and ideas about Simon’s article and online discussions below. I wish you best of luck as you prepare for your next semester of classes in 2019!