An online discussion forum is a web-based communication tool (or activity) that enables participants to post messages and to reply to others' messages asynchronously. Unlike the real-time (synchronous) discussions of chat rooms and instant messaging the online discussion typically lasts longer and gives students time to think about what they are going to contribute. This activity is available in iLearn.
Online discussion forums provide an ideal activity for the facilitation of three types of interactions: learner-learner, learner-teacher, learner-content
You can use the online discussion forum to post important messages to the entire class, generate class discussions, facilitate peer review and evaluate students based on their responses to open-ended questions. You can conduct online discussions with your students in iLearn.
In an online discussion, the participants discuss about a specific problem or situation. Learners discuss a predefined topic and practice arguing in explaining their position.
- The lecturer starts the online discussion by writing a first posting with the topic and the specific task. Ideally, the task creates a lively exchange.
- The students add their thoughts, ideas or arguments to the forum within the defined period of time.
- Moderate the discussion by teacher or tutor, if needed.
Depending on the level of knowledge and complexity of the topic, it makes sense for learners to prepare in advance by collecting arguments and counter arguments as well as justifications. This should be included in the task.
The time frame for implementation depends on the task.
Jokiaho, A. (2016). Virtualisierung didaktischer Szenarien für die Hochschullehre. Dissertation: Pädagogische Hochschule Ludwigsburg.
Orlando, J. (2017). What Research Tells Us about Online Discussion.