Chickering and Gamson, who authored the widely distributed "7 Principles for Good Practice in Undergraduate Education," argue that one of the principles of good practice is to "encourage active learning."
In an active learning environment, whether it is online or face-to-face, learning is centered around the student. Active learning engages students in creating knowledge. Rather than watching video or listening to a lecture, they are working on projects collaboratively, doing simulations and inquiry-based work.
Instructors often struggle to add interaction to a discussion board. Online discussions can go beyond just asking a single question and having students respond. To find out more, visit the Teaching Commons page on:
Supporting Online Collaborative Learning
- Technologies That Enhance Collaborative, Interdisciplinary Learning from an EDUCAUSE presentation offers a framework for collaborative learning and uses it assess what technologies might support course goals.
- Promoting Collaborative Learning in Online Courses from Faculty Focus reviews an article that recommends making sure every group member knows their role in the group and asking students use online discussion boards to collaboratively create a set of expected group rules.
- Strategies for Effective Online Collaboration from the Rochester Institute of Technology offers advice on how to build strong group interdependence, encouraging peer evaluation, and setting up mini-deadlines.
Providing Feedback to Online Groups
- Using Peer Assessment in the Design of Online Collaborative Learning Environments from an EDUCAUSE conference presentation provides a sample peer evaluation form and product evaluation form.
- Evaluation of Threaded Discussions from Minnesota State Colleges and Universities
Collaborative Learning Online Tools
The following posts from the Instructional Design and Development Blog covers a number of tools and strategies that can support collaborative learning.
- Back to Basics: Free Tools I Can’t Live Without
- Collaboratively Writing about Collaborative-Writing Tools
- Is "Teamwork" an Oxymoron for Online Learning?
- Working with Wikis
Bender, T. (2003). Discussion-based online teaching to enhance student learning. Virginia: Stylus Publishing
This book is a useful contribution to the online learning literature base. It will serve as a pedagogically rich resource for both the novice and experienced online educator. The author offers a very balanced view of online discussion as a teaching tool in education. There is an excellent chapter on assessment.
Chism, Nancy. (n.d.). Handbook for instructors on the use of electronic class discussion.
This website is an excellent, comprehensive resource for online teaching.
- Consultation and resources on developing online, hybrid, or web-enhanced courses.
- Design and development of learning activities enriched by technology
- Resources on developing multimedia curriculum resources