Course Discussion: Management
It's great teaching in a bathrobe. However there's more to managing courses than designing cool activities.
Once you have a sense for the discussions you wish to hold, think about how they will be organized and presented within your course management system.
Some instructors prefer to setup all discussion forums at the beginning of the semester. Others add new forums as they emerge on the course schedule.
Check out the Book Buzz Virtual Book Club from the Toronto Public Library. Examine how they manage their program and the online discussions.
Categorize Online Discussions
Categorize discussions within a course by function such as general area, introduce yourself, practice, post/reply forums, or collaboration.
Class Discussion Areas
Consider a general discussion area that can be used throughout the course. Discussion topics might include:
- Introduce yourself
- Practice posting assignments – HTML practice area
- Peer assistance and help
- General sharing areas (by need, by interest, by topic)
Designate an area for collaborative planning and discussion. Discussion topics might include:
- Plan a project (i.e., write a paper, build a webpage, design project)
- Solve a problem (i.e., WebQuest)
- Work as a committee (i.e., build consensus, vote, make decision)
- Use collaborative areas to:
- Ask meaningful questions
- Stimulate new questions
- Promote sharing of process and products
- Encourage alternative ideas
- Promote interaction
- Ask meaningful questions
Identify an area to be used for formal, graded discussions. Discussion topics might include:
- Read/view (i.e., article, photograph, video) and respond (i.e., summarize, ask questions, reflect, take a stand, trace idea).
- React to a question.
- Locate and share a resource.
- Compare and contrast to things (i.e., reading, approach)
- Share a plan (i.e., action plan, lesson plan, strategy).
- Repurpose or adapt (i.e., lesson, idea, approach).
- Evaluate or critique a reading.
- Pose a problem and respond with alternative solutions
- Review or summarize and discuss.
- Conduct an interview (i.e., webmaster, professional, community member) and share results.
Tips for Students
Provide tips for students making postings:
- Use a descriptive SUBJECT line
- Separate long entries with blank lines
- End an entry with a challenge or question
- Include hotlinks, citations, and other materials to support your perspective
- Be sure to sign your postings
- Add an attachment for long entries (i.e., Word)
- If you attach file, be sure to indicate the format (i.e., Inspiration, Microsoft Publisher). When possible, make it a PDF.
Read the Forums in Online Courses (PDF) for a review.
Categorize forums by function.
Consider whether to setup forums at the beginning of the course or add them as they are encountered on the schedule.
Create an organizational system for course discussions.