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Improve Online Discussions Using ABCs

by Janice Florent

image of online discussion

In a recent eLearning Industry blog post, Dr. James W. Brown suggests using ABCs of high quality online discussions as a starting point for feedback that impacts student performance.

Acknowledge the student's input. A quick response by the instructor helps to begin the interaction with the students and keeps them motivated.

Build on students' ideas by adding content, perspectives, experience, reference to the readings, etc.

Conclude with a focused follow-up question as a way to tie off the conversation with all students. Try using a provocative question that facilitates critical thinking that goes beyond the facts.

It is critically important to encourage conditions and behaviors for successful learning in discussion forums.

Dr. Brown offers these additional suggestions for improving asynchronous discussions in your online course:

  1. Build community in your online course from the start.
  2. Actively contact students who don’t show up online.
  3. Go after the lurkers and engage them.
  4. Pick a hot topic.
  5. Use a light hand and encourage other students to take the lead.
  6. Plan for the unplanned.
  7. Timing is critical.
  8. Quality counts.
  9. Employ a "final thoughts" posting to conclude the discussion.

For more information you can read Dr. Brown’s "The ABCs of High Quality Online Discussions" article.

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