Engaging students in online discussions

I hear many comments from teaching staff that students don’t contribute to Discussion Boards or to online classroom discussions. This can be for a variety of reasons; one of the first being that they need to feel comfortable; that it is a safe place for their idea sharing. This safe space needs to be created early in the semester, good teacher modelling, a classroom discussion on respect, and the opportunity for students to have a bit of fun in the online classroom. Don’t dive into lessons, ask how they are going, share a story from the week, act like you would in a face to face classroom. Secondly, questions for discussion need to be carefully planned; good questions don’t always just come naturally. This document has been prepared to help you instigate some robust discussions. Remember though, not all students will discuss; some are quiet and very shy but they will enjoy watching the conversations progress.