Online students often feel isolated from anyone who can share their immediate learning experiences. This is the reason one of the best practices for online courses recommends that a discussion forum focused on introductions is one of the first activities of any course to support the emotional component of learning (Boettcher & Conrad, 2016). This introductory discussion forum lays the foundation for student-to-student conversation, interaction, and support, creating a comfortable and trusting social presence (Garrison, Anderson & Arche, 2000).
Use it when you want...
Students to interact with others to form social connections
Students to develop a broader understanding of other students’ experiences and backgrounds
Identify aligning with discussion with course outcomes or unit objectives.(ex. Course Outcome: Students will work collaboratively to develop proposals for community development
Develop the discussion prompt.(ex. Share your personal experience with community development efforts in your town or city.)
Identify when the discussion should take place./desired elements and depth of the post. (ex. A good post should name an experience, define the depth of the experience, and provide some judgment on the value or success of the experience.)
Identify the kind of feedback or response is necessary to accomplish the desired outcome. (ex. Students will respond to one other student’s post and make a connection or contrast to their personal experience.)
Determine what your role needs to be in this discussion. (ex. I will summarize my experiences in the following in-class session.
Identify what activities will occur before and after the discussion. (ex. Students will review examples of past community development proposals in the Canvas Modules tool prior to the discussion. Following the discussion, I will take the feedback and use it to form the groups to be used for their community development proposals.
Create the discussion post in Canvas
In the discussion description, include statements on how the discussion supports specific course outcomes.
Develop and post an example of a successful post.
Guide students on how they should interact with the discussion post. (ex. By Wednesday at midnight, students should post their own responses. By midnight on Thursday, students should read and respond to one other student’s post.)
Identify how/if the post will be graphed (ex. This discussion will be worth five points. I will use the following rubric to evaluate your post: 1) the post clearly identifies a community development project, 2) the post summarized their experience or role in the project, and 3) the post makes a judgment on the effectiveness of the project.)