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Desire2Learn 9.0

Online Discussions: An Overview

Online discussions help personalize the online class experience by building a learning community. Students can begin to form and extend the online community as well as engage with each other over the course content. In addition, discussions aid learners in developing reflective skills and higher level critical thinking skills. Online discussions can improve course management by giving students and faculty the chance to reflect as well as give and receive feedback about the web-based learning environment.

return to topGeneral Discussion Tips

Most of online discussion etiquette is common sense, but making it a course expectation increases civility. See Online Etiquette for some helpful reminders of appropriate online discussion etiquette.

return to topDiscussion Tips for Faculty

Below are some tips to help you make the most of your online discussions.

return to topDiscussion Areas Versus Online Chats

Discussion Areas

The discussion area is for asynchronous conversations. If one student posts a message in the morning, someone else can respond in the afternoon. All posts are in one place and can be read at any time. The discussion area is appropriate when one or more of the following conditions are met:

Online Chats

Online chats are synchronous conversations in which all participants are online at the same time. Depending on the tool used, you may be able to archive chats for future reference. For more information, refer to Archiving Chats. Online chats are appropriate when one or more of the following conditions are met:

return to topRecommended Discussion Areas for Faculty

Creating separate discussion forums can help maintain order. What forums and topics you use depend on your curricular objectives and the class structure. In addition to the content-area discussions, consider creating the following discussion topics:

Introductions
In this area, students can introduce themselves to you and their fellow classmates. This forum can aid in establishing a sense of community early in the course.

Student Lounge
In this area, students can discuss issues not related to the course.

Technical Questions
This type of forum provides a place for students to ask technical questions and look for answers. In many classes, students can and will help each other.

Reference Desk
In this area, students can ask questions regarding where to find or how to use library resources relevant to course assignments.You can arrange for library staff to monitor this forum by contacting the reference librarians.

Virtual Office
This forum provides a place for students to seek clarification about assignments or request additional information. Posting these questions in the discussion area allows all students to see the answers, reducing repeat questions.

return to topConsiderations for Setting Up Discussions in D2L

A well-setup discussion area can aid communication for you and your students. Keep these points in mind when organizing your discussion area:

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