Rules of Engagement; or, How to Build Better Online Discussion | :: The 4th Era :: |

By Pete Rorabaugh


"In an Intro to Psychology course, you might build an online discussion prompt that asks students to compare or contrast the differences between two competing theories. Pedagogically, the purpose of the discussion is to 1) make students responsible for demonstrating their learning and 2) to practice the skill of summary or analysis. However, without any preparation students will probably only type their response, hit submit, and consider the assignment “complete.” It will have lost a crucial dynamic component -- engagement with the ideas of others.


"Let’s take a step back to lively class discussion that happens in a brick-and-mortar class. Participants in a discussion are socially required to attend to the ideas of their peers. If someone blurts something out that was expressed just a moment ago, she reveals that she has not been listening and, thus, is weakening the conversation. There’s a sense of failed responsibility. In the online environment, we should encourage the same sense of communal responsibility by giving our class instructions that lead to engagement. Consider these:"

Via Ana Cristina Pratas, João Greno Brogueira