Indiana University

How can I effectively manage discussions, including case-study, project, and problem-based learning discussions?

IU supports several tools that create the possibility of teacher-led discussion outside of the classroom. Instructors can use these tools to provide an opportunity for students to elaborate on their thinking and learning, much as they do during class. For instance, instructors can easily post examples they would use in teacher-led discussion or in a lecture to a blog, discussion forum, or wiki tool. They could set a start time for an online chat and start the chat with the example. In short, many of the same examples and questions posed in class are excellent doorways for online discussions.

As instructors move discussions online, they will have to decide whether to move to asynchronous discussions or still try to use the class time for live discussion. Discussion forums, blogs (Oncourse), the wiki tool (Oncourse), the Pages tool (Canvas), and the Collaborations tool (Canvas) allow for asynchronous discussions. Live discussion could take place as chats using the Oncourse or Canvas Chat tool.

As a side note, some research suggests that students who are reluctant participants during in-class discussions are more likely to engage in online discussions. Additionally, when compared to in-class discussions, online discussions are more difficult for students to monopolize. Moving discussions to an online context could, however, dampen the engagement of more extroverted students who thrive on live interaction.

Resources useful for online discussions, communication and collaboration:

Instructors can get help using technology in their teaching at the teaching and learning centers on each campus; see How do I contact the teaching and learning centers at each IU campus?