4 Rules To Make Elearning Online Discussions Organized And Educational

mouse and thought bubblesOne of the ways to make your elearning course interactive is to create an online discussion portal. This is one way for both instructors and learners to interact and share ideas with each other. Take note that this is not only between the instructor and learner. It is also between learners themselves as they consciously or unconsciously help each other in the learning process.

However, instructors must take extra care when they are setting up online discussions. If it is not initiated and monitored correctly, it could end up either leading the discussion elsewhere or making it un-educational. In a worse case scenario, it can even give instructors a false sense of engagement between learners when in fact, it hardly helps them with the course.

To make sure that the online discussion in your elearning course is both organized and educational, here are 4 rules that you need to implement.

Rule 1: Make sure learners know basic posting etiquette

In a time when social networking and digital interaction is so rampant, you would think that everyone would know the basic posting etiquette. That is not true. If you want to use online discussions effectively, you need to educate learners about the proper way to post. For instance, make sure that they can identify when to merely respond to a post or to create a new thread. They should also be taught the importance of a subject line. It will help other learners identify the thread even before they open it. The proper language should also be used. Discourage learners from using shortcuts similar to SMS messages so misunderstanding can be avoided.

Rule 2: Identify the different types of posts

The next rule that has to be implemented is to help learners identify the different type of posts that they can create. The two most obvious are new posts or threads and the post that responds to an existing thread. The other types of posts that they can create includes introducing a new idea (either in a new thread or in response to an existing one), asking/answering a question, expanding on a comment, and providing feedback, examples and motivation in an existing discussion. A post can also be as simple as agreeing to a comment made by someone else or it can be an evaluation of the provided post or idea. Some posts can serve as a summary of what had been discussed or a conclusion.

Rule 3: Define the intended learning outcome

Since you are using the online discussion in your elearning course, it is important for you to define the learning outcome that is intended out of it. The discussion can be a way to reflect what learners have gained so far. For instance, you can initiate the online discussion to determine how well the learners understood the lesson so far. Or it can be used to create a portal by which learners can discuss how the learned concept can be applied in their respective lives. Take note that online discussions do not have to be done after a lesson. It can be a pre-discussion of the lesson that lies ahead of the group. This will help the instructor gauge the level of interest and knowledge foundation of the learners with regards to the upcoming lesson.

Rule 4: Provide a guide on how to create a good post

Obviously, the online discussion will be rated and be a part of the overall score of the learner at the end of the course. That means you need to set a guide or criteria that will help learners create good posts. For instance, inform them that every post will be rated in terms of relevance, quality, readability, appropriateness and understanding. You can make the criteria specific or generalized. This way, learners are encouraged to be more careful of how they will post and participate in the online discussion.

By following these 4 rules, you should be able to set up a more educational and organized online discussion for your elearning course. Not only that, you would have taught learners the proper way of posting – something they can really use in their respective digital interactions.

Image courtesy of hywards for FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Leave a Reply