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On her website, Online Learning Insights, Debbie Morrison compiled a list of ten common reasons online discussions fail and how educators can overcome those problems. From her experience, Morrison thinks online discussions breakdown because students:

  • Aren’t clear on the expectations: where to post, what post should include (length, content,links, etc.) and/or deadline for posting
  • Feel they have nothing to contribute— are shy, reticent
  • Experience technical difficulties and/or novice user
  • Are offended by a fellow classmates’post, or response to his or her post
  • [Experience] poor discussion etiquette
  • [Are] inhibited by timing of due dates for initial discussion posts,interfere with students’ work schedule
  • [Are] discouraged by discussion questions that appear unrelated to course goals, and/or questions are vague and unfocused
  • [Are] inhibited by certain students that appear to dominate
  •  Initial post and/or responses to classmates are shallow and brief
  • Are just not into it

You can view the reasons for and responses to these issues in Morrison’s document.


10 Reasons Students Don’t Participate in Online Discussions & How to Remedy Each

If you use online discussions in your classrooms, what strategies have worked to keep students interested and engaged?

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