“On its face, an asynchronous conversation conducted via a discussion board may not seem as personal or immediate as a conversation that takes place in a more traditional classroom. However, an online discussion can be just as spirited, enlightening, and engaging as one taking place in the face-to-face environment — if it is facilitated well.

How can you, as an instructor, help students gain the full benefit of discussions in your online course? In McKeachie’s Teaching Tips: Strategies, Research, and Theory for College and University Teachers, contributors Erping Zhu and Matthew Kaplan offer these 10 tips to create a comfortable atmosphere for online discussion.

Instructors: Ten Tips for Effective Online Discussions

  1. Be an active participant
  2. Bring your own experiences to the discussion
  3. Use personal anecdotes when appropriate
  4. Do not dominate a discussion or let a few students dominate it
  5. Challenge students without silencing them
  6. Ask questions at different levels (e.g., knowledge, comprehension, application, analysis, synthesis, and evaluation)
  7. Paraphrase a message if it is not clear
  8. Encourage active student participation
  9. Energize the online discussion if needed (e.g., using role playssimulations, and pros and cons)
  10. Bring closure to an online discussion (e.g., summarizing learning points) (p. 248)



  • Svinicki, Marilla and McKeachie, Wilbert J. 2011. McKeachie’s Teaching Tips: Strategies, Research, and Theory for College and University Teachers. 13th ed. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth, Cengage.

The post Building Community via Engaging Online Discussions appeared first on The Cengage Blog.”