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Online Discussions: Five Kinds of Forums

For Those Who Teach

Online Discussions: Five Kinds of Forums

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Exchanging ideas, sharing information, and voicing opinions in an online course isn’t the same as doing so when the class meets face-to-face. Even so, some of the same problems emerge: not all students participate, and some offer observations unconnected to previous comments in the exchange. Teachers also respond similarly. They often require everyone to post comments and to respond to the contributions made by others. And just like some in class discussions, discussion board exchanges can make students (and sometimes their teachers) yawn. Fortunately, as technology has evolved and teachers gain experience with asynchronous exchanges, increasingly online discussion forums use formats uniquely to suited to what can be accomplished online, and they more effectively engage students. In an extremely detailed and well-written article, Tracy Smith (2019) describes five different online discussion forums she used in a fully online graduate course. The forums illustrate these unique formats and their success at engaging students.

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