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Designing Discussion Prompts

Introduction to Crafting Questions for On-line Discussions (Penn State Learning Design Community Hub)

How do I write good online discussion prompts? (DePaul, Teaching Commons)

S and T: Style and Type of Question (from CREST+ Model: Writing Effective Online Discussion Questions): see especially,

  • Pair swapping
  • Pair evaluating
  • Grouping
  • Student-created questions

Analyzing Responses, Moves, and Roles in Online Discussions. Interdisciplinary Journal of E-Learning and Learning Objects Volume 5, 2009.

Message board thread prompts (Scott Warnock, whose Teaching Writing Online: How & Why we read.)

Some Background:

Cooper, Marilyn and Cynthia Selfe. “Computer Conferences and Learning: Authority, Resistance, and Internally Persuasive Discourse.” College English. 52(1990): 847-69.

At their best, these computer conference discussions are what we often hope in-class discussions will be: discussions in which everyone investigates problems and ideas of common concern. The discussions are focused on the topics of the course and explicitly bring in ideas presented in the readings. But because entries in computer conferences are written, students do not have to compete for the floor and can say as much as they want to without being interrupted, although they still must be responsive to the interests of their classmates if they don’t want to be ignored.

Neither must students be as formal in their behavior as they are in class or in written essays: on-line conference entries contain expressive, informal language and show evidence of a frank engagement with content, reminding us in their style of letter exchanges or of journal material. Unlike journal entries, though, computer conferences are public exchanges within a group of participants, and so the entries also exhibit some of the same intellectual synergy of group discussions or conversations in which individuals respond directly to what others say.

And looking ahead to D2L:

Threaded Discussions
Course discussion areas provide a valuable forum for learner and instructor interaction. The discussion tool enables learners to rate one another’s messages, providing a participation incentive and empowering learners to call out key contributions.