This page features a collection of carefully selected resources specific to fostering interaction and building a community of learning—targeted to educators seeking skill development for creating meaningful online discussions and interaction.
I. Fostering Asynchronous Student Discussions
1. This six-minute video, Conducting effective online discussions from the COFA series Learning to Teaching Online, provides educators with skill development and strategies for managing and facilitating effective online discussions and how to engage students in the process. I can’t say enough about this series from COFA—skill development in a concise format, honed to specific topics, that can be accessed easily by educators for their own skill development when needed.
2. This web article from the Pockets of Innovation section from Ontario Online Learning Portal shares how a professor encourages and ensures that students participate in asynchronous discussions. Not only does he use a rubric, and weight participation heavily, he emails students that are absent from the discussion boards, Supporting and assessing online communications with Faculty of Education graduate students at Nipissing University.
3. Asynchronous discussions that are incorporated into curriculum for online courses can build student engagement and support higher levels of achievement and learning. However in order that forum discussions are successful and not viewed as busy work by students, discussions must be thoughtfully planned before the course begins, and need to be facilitated and monitored once the course is underway. This peer-reviewed article provides the foundational knowledge that educators require to construct the conditions, parameters, and student guidelines for successful and meaningful synchronous discussions: Essential Elements in Designing Online Discussions to Promote Cognitive Presence — A Practical Experience.
I wrote a post about and developing a resource available for download that features the top ten reasons for student non-participation and suggestions for remedying each. We developed several methods to overcome this challenge when I worked as lead curriculum developer for online education at a small university, and many proved effective. I’ve shared these in the following resource. I selected the ten most common reasons by using data from end-of-course anonymous surveys, student interviews, anecdotal feedback from online instructors in my network, and personal experience. Click here to view the resource available on Google Docs.