What Is the Purpose of Online Discussion?
Nearly all online faculty use discussion in their courses, often simply because everyone else does or their institution’s course development model assumes they do. But like any course content or activity, we need to ask about its purpose. There is no law that all online courses must have discussion. Often the best-intentioned online discussions fall flat, with students making superficial comments or repeating what others say in different words. Meanwhile, students wonder about the purpose of the discussions in their classes, often concluding that it is to “tell the instructor what they want to hear” by making their perfunctory original posting and two replies using formulaic responses.