*This is a five-part series. Each Monday, we will be publishing the next consecutive part of the article series.
Five Online Discussion Ideas to Apply Learning
Discussion forums. Love them or hate them, they are an essential component of online learning. They give introverted learners a chance to articulate their thoughts. They enrich the learning environment by giving everyone an opportunity to share their experiences. And they are a space for the co-creation of knowledge and meaning.
In their practitioner-oriented review article, Aloni and Harrington (2018) provide practical, evidence-based guidelines for designing, managing, and assessing effective online discussions. These guidelines should be combined with an understanding of when discussions should be used in a course. Discussions aren’t appropriate when trying to meet purely metacognitive learning objectives (for reflections, use a blog or a journal), checking learners’ ability to apply rules (if there is a right answer to a question, assign a problem set), or for co-creating a document (for that, use a wiki). In the words of 20-Minute Mentor Jean Mandernach (2020), “you assign a discussion when there is a conversation to be had.”