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Structuring Discussions: Online and Face-to-Face

I found a nice set of online discussion activities that strike me as good in-class discussion activities as well. One of the reasons discussion so often fails or doesn’t realize much of its potential is the absence of structure. The discussion is too open-ended. It wanders around and is easily sidetracked. I’m not discounting the value of an occasional unstructured exchange, but when students are still learning what academic discourse entails, a structure can keep the discussion focused and on track.

The list of discussion activities are by Laurel Warren Trufant, in the article “Move Over Socrates: Online Discussion is Here.” [1] I’ve added some comments and elaborations (in italics) after the author’s suggestions.

If you’ve devised or use other structures that focus and direct discussion activities in your classes — whether face-to-face or online — please share your strategy below.