Four Types of Discussion Forums in Online Courses

A key component of any online course is the discussion board.  As online courses have matured, we  realize that not all discussion forums are or should be the same.  Some discussions are for building community; other discussions are for exploring new ideas; others are for applying core concepts; and others are for gathering evidence of understanding.  If the purposes of discussion boards differ, then how we structure, monitor, and evaluate the discussion boards should also differ.  Many purposes for asynchronous discussions have been identified (Painter, Coffin, & Hewings, 2003; Grogan, 2005), but in the interests of simplicity, this posting focuses on four types.  It is worth noting that these discussion types build in consistent, regular and substantive dialogue and interaction between faculty and students and between students.  Regular and substantive dialogue is one of the requirements…
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