Discussion 2: Collaborative Activity 2: Research and Report—Facilitating Discussions

Discussion 2: Collaborative Activity 2: Research and Report—Facilitating DiscussionsDiscussion 2: Collaborative Activity 2: Research and Report—Facilitating Discussions

Peer discussions are the heart of most online courses. This is where much of the learning and interaction happens. One of your roles as an online instructor is to facilitate successful peer knowledge exchange in the discussion boards while maintaining a safe, positive, and productive learning environment. Skillfully facilitating fun and robust online discussions is as much art as it is science.

To Prepare: Call on your personal experiences with discussion boards as a student and/or instructor. Conduct independent research, on the Internet or in the Walden library, to identify three or more useful resources related to best practices for facilitating online discussions.



Facilitating Discussions

Online discussions are inevitable aspects in online learning with the intent to develop social learning skills while sharing knowledge. There are various challenges and multiple advantages that a learner has when interacting in online discourse.

Thankfully the different online tools and technology have removed the geographical limitations in learning; hence, there is the continuum of knowledge impact from anyplace. In any social settings, there are various guidelines in place that make communication run seamlessly observing different ethical and moral obligations. This paper aims to discuss insights from three resources on the best practices to facilitate productive online discussions.

The article by Woods & Bliss (2016), sheds light on some of the ways instructors can ensure learners participate actively in the learning process. Some of the methods highlighted by the authors to facilitate engagement include designing discussion topics, minimize procrastination of discussions, and reflective assignments.

Woods & Bliss (2016) do also suggest that the instructor needs to provide meaningful feedback and at the right time to develop reliability. The scholars do also prefer that instructors use smaller groups that can be managed and give every member an opportunity to participate and can back that by grading discussions for learners to build on their grades actively. While there are different strategies, the authors recommend that the instructor actively play the role of the facilitator to guide on the learning process.

An online platform needs to be appropriately structured, have a purpose, and laid expectations, with timely response to build on knowledge. Chen et al. (2017), suggest on having a protocol that is, having manageable groups guided by meaningful conversations which aim to spark the learner’s creativity, and problem-solving skills, propagate reflection, and enhance a communal aspect. The use of protocols does not only facilitate teaching large classes but also support social, cognitive, and teaching presence in the program Chen et al. (2017).

The study by Joksimović et al. (2015) seeks to investigate the relationship between establishing various indicators of social presence in an online class and academic performance. Instructors have to facilitate social engagements with learners and their peers and propagate aspects such as continuity of discussions past lessons, appreciating and complementing learner’s progress which can have a positive impact on the mindset of the learner and final grades (Joksimović et al., 2015).

Notable is that teaching presence did moderate the association between learner’s performance and social presence by providing instructions for meaningful discussions. The instructor can also use the online platform to assess and note the student’s progress and struggles within the course (Joksimović et al., 2015). A common observation with the three research study is that they recommend small or medium-sized classes where instructors can monitor learning progress and intervene where necessary.


Chen, B., Denoyelles, A., Patton, K., & Zydney, J. (2017). Creating a Community of Inquiry in large-enrollment online courses: An exploratory study on the effect of protocols within online discussions. Online Learning21(1), 165-188.

Joksimović, S., Gašević, D., Kovanović, V., Riecke, B. E., & Hatala, M. (2015). Social presence in online discussions as a process predictor of academic performance. Journal of Computer Assisted Learning31(6), 638-654.

Woods, K., & Bliss, K. (2016). Facilitating Successful Online Discussions. Journal of Effective Teaching16(2), 76-92.

Also check: Reflective Journal