Engaging in Online Discussions to Build Community

Reading Time: 1 minute If it is well facilitated, however, an online conversation can be just as lively, enlightening and engaging as one that takes place in a face-to-face setting.
How can you as an instructor help students get the most out of online discussions? McKeachie’s Teaching Strategies: Strategies, Research and Theory for College and University Teachers is a collection of 10 tips from Matthew Kaplan and Erping Zhu that will help you create a relaxed atmosphere for online discussion.
Ten Tips for Online Discussions that Work for Instructors
Participate actively
Bring your experiences to the discussion
When appropriate, use personal anecdotes
Do not try to dominate a discussion, or allow a few students to dominate it
Students can be challenged without being silenced
Ask questions at different levels (e.g. knowledge, comprehension, application and analysis, synthesis, evaluation).
If a message is unclear, paraphrase it
Encourage active student participation
If necessary, energize the online discussion by using role plays, simulations and pros and cons.
End an online discussion (e.g. summarizing learning points). (p. 248)

Refer to
Svinicki, Marilla, and McKeachie Wilbert J. 2011. McKeachie’s Teaching Strategies: Strategies, Research, and Theory For College and University Teachers. 13th ed. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth, Cengage.