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